Veggie Pho with Fried Tofu and Bean Sprouts
This vegan pho is light and crisp and comes with all the fixings for a tasty Vietnamese-style noodle soup.
Have you ever gotten veggie pho from multiple restaurants, but the broth at both tasted almost exactly the same? I have, and it wasn’t because they share a chef or a secret recipe and spend hours preparing it the same way. It’s because they use the same instant broth powder. You read that right.
I was shocked too. One day, while I was perusing the local Asian grocery store, I stumbled on a little jar of gold that I thought I’d try — and lo and behold it tasted just like theirs. And now yours will too, now that you know the secret.
What Is Pho?
Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup. The broth is light, crisp, and earthy with a crunch from the bean sprouts and herby from the fresh basil with a bit of heat from the sliced jalapeno, and then you slurp it all down with some soft but delightfully chewy rice noodles. It’s a really refreshing soup that’s great for Sunday brunch.
What Kind of Rice Noodles Do You Use for Pho?
The best noodles to use for making pho are fresh rice noodles that you can find in the refrigerated section of your local Asian grocery store. They often come packed in vacuum-sealed bags and have the Vietnamese words “BÁNH PHỞ TƯƠI” which loosely translates to “fresh rice noodles.” They’re so easy to cook, you usually just toss them into boiling water for 10 seconds and they’re done.
If you can’t find or have access to fresh rice noodles, you can use any dried rice noodles as a substitute. Just make them according to package instructions. Typically this involves soaking them for five minutes or so until they’re transparent, then pouring boiling water over them and soaking them until they’re as soft as you like.
Which Broth Powder Do You Use for Veggie Pho?
The best broth powder to use to make the same great-tasting veggie pho as some restaurants is the “Cốt Phở Chay” brand Vegetarian Pho Soup Base. It comes in a little round jar with a greenish-gold label and is roughly three inches tall and four inches in diameter.
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How To Store Instant Broth Powder
The product’s directions suggest you make two gallons of broth at the same time, but you can just use however much you need for one bowl and freeze the rest of the broth mix until you’re ready to use more. One jar makes about sixteen bowls of pho, so it should last you a very long time.
What Can You Use Instead of Instant Broth Powder?
If you can’t find or have access to Cốt Phở Chay or would rather use fresh ingredients, you can use a lite-tasting vegetable broth made with roasted onion and cabbage, and then add in a bit of salt and mushroom powder or MSG to taste for a similar flavor.
How To Prepare Tofu
Since tofu is like a sponge and is meant to absorb the flavor of what you put it in, you should press it to squeeze out the water to make room for all those flavors. For firm or extra-firm tofu, you can use a heavy pan. You can also get a tofu press which saves you a lot of trouble. I use the one made by TofuXpress and I’ve had it for years now and works very well. It makes pressing tofu so easy, all you do is place the block of tofu in the tofu press and rotate the top down onto it until it locks into place, then you let it do its thing for half an hour to two hours, or overnight if you want to crumble it for something like tofu tacos.
Once it is done pressing out the water you can pour the water out and pat it dry with a towel, then cut it into bite-sized pieces, and then pan fry each side in a tablespoon or two of oil until golden brown. Then just toss it on top of the soup.
Alternatively, you can add a little oil to a storage bag and shake it around with the tofu pieces inside to coat them with a little oil, then air fry them until nicely golden brown. Do whichever way works best for you.
There are a lot of other great toppings you can add in to your veggie pho, here are a few ideas.
- Enoki Mushrooms
- Other Mushrooms
- Plant-Based Meats
- Bean sprouts
- Bamboo shoots
- Bell peppers
- Lime wedges
How To Make Vegan Pho
Gather all your ingredients. Measure out the noodles and other ingredients. Rinse the bean sprouts and basil and slice the jalapeno and prepare any other add-ins you’d like.
Pan-fry the tofu: Add the oil to a non-stick pan over medium heat and fry each side until golden brown, then set the tofu aside and wipe out the oil. Add a few inches of water to the pan and bring it to a boil.
In a separate pot, add the water and the pho broth powder to a pot and bring it to a simmer.
When both are simmering, drop the fresh rice noodles into the plain boiling water and cook for ten seconds. Drain and add the noodles to a bowl, then pour the broth over the noodles.
Add the fried tofu, bean sprouts, basil, and jalapenos to the bowl over the soup. Serve with lime wedges, sriracha, and hoisin sauce if desired. Enjoy!
How To Make Vegan Pho – Video
Vegan Pho with Fried Tofu and Bean Sprouts
Makes One Bowl
- 2 tbsp oil, for frying the tofu
- 1/2 block of tofu, pressed, patted dry, & cut into bite-sized rectangle pieces
- 2 1/4 cups water + more for boiling the noodles
- 100 grams or 3.5 oz fresh rice noodles
- 1/2 to 1 cup of bean sprouts
- 1 sprig of Thai basil
- 1-inch piece of jalapeno, cut into slices
- 1 tbsp Vegetarian “Pho” Soup Base
- Other Toppings, as desired
Add oil to a non-stick pan over medium heat and fry for 3-5 minutes on each side until golden brown. Set the tofu aside and wipe out any leftover oil. Add a few inches of water to the pan and bring it to a boil.
Add 2 and 1/4 cups water to a separate pan and stir in the instant pho broth powder, stir to dissolve, and bring to a simmer.
Add fresh rice noodles to the plain boiling water, then cook for 10 seconds or according to package instructions. Drain the noodles and transfer them to a bowl.
Pour the broth over the prepared rice noodles, then top with fried tofu and the rest of the toppings and serve with any condiments desired. Enjoy!
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