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| October 23, 2018

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Pho, What’s Not To Love?

Pho, What’s Not To Love?
Eirene Buckle

Since the rise in popularity of Vietnamese street food, the humble bowl of noodle soup has firmly established its place on the list of healthy food trends to follow.

Vietnamese restaurants are usually unpretentious, encouraging you to look beyond the decor and focus on the food. A simple bowl of pho (traditionally pronounced “fuh”) speaks for itself; it’s fragrant, full of flavour and more than enough to satisfy your appetite.

You might be thinking that pho is the kind of food you eat when its cold outside and you’re craving comfort food. In fact, pho is such a versatile and light dish that it can be eaten at any time of day. The Vietnamese traditionally eat pho as a breakfast meal as the bone broth, vegetables and rice noodles provide them with the energy source they need to start the day.

Although a bowl of pho may seem quite modest, its popularity can be attributed to the fact that it’s healthy, cheap and easy to recreate at home. A typical pho will include a fragrant broth (usually made out of beef or chicken bones), rice noodles, beef, chicken, tofu or mushrooms, garnished with spring onions. It’s common to receive a side plate of fresh mint or thai basil, bean sprouts and a slice of lemon so you can season your soup according to personal preference.

If you’re looking for some of the most authentic and affordable pho in Brighton, then it’s worth checking out Milk No Sugar, located on Trafalgar Street. The Vietnamese-style café prides itself on serving up traditional Vietnamese street food that’s full of flavour and easy on the hip pocket. The café provides an easy-going atmosphere combined with good service and quality food that has proven to be quite popular with the locals. The smell of the broth boiling away in the kitchen is enough to entice you to walk in, making it almost impossible to resist.

At the moment, Brighton currently has three Vietnamese eateries: The Big Bowl, Pho Brighton and my personal favourite as mentioned above, Milk No Sugar. This may seem modest in comparison to the number of Chinese, Thai and Indian restaurants, however, they have all proven their worth by serving up consistently good food that is full of well rounded flavours.

If you’re keen to try something new then it’s worth paying one of these venues a visit. A bowl of comforting pho coupled with a side of spring rolls or asian slaw will have you coming back for more.

Image by Jeff Gunn

Image by Jeff Gunn

RECIPE: Vegetarian Pho with Tofu and Shiitake Mushrooms                                                  Serves 2

A good quality pho will usually be made up of a stock that has been simmering away for hours. Unfortunately not all of us have that extra time up our sleeves, so if you’re looking for a quick and easy midweek meal, then why not try our version of vegetarian pho with fried tofu and shiitake mushrooms.

What you will need:

For the broth

  • 5 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 shallot finely diced
  • 5 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Salt to taste

For the soup

  • 2 handfuls of shiitake mushrooms (If you can’t find fresh shiitake mushrooms then you can substitute them with the dehydrated variety)
  • 2 handfuls of fried tofu or seitan
  • 2 spring onions thinly slices
  • 2 portions of rice noodles (prepare according to packet instructions)
  • 1 fresh chilli finely sliced or sriracha sauce
  • 2 wedges of lemon or lime
  • 2 handfuls of fresh mint, coriander or thai basil
  • 2 large handfuls of bean sprouts

Method:

  1. In a large pot, combine vegetable stock, freshly grated ginger, finely diced shallots, soy sauce and salt. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Prepare rice noodles according to packet instructions. Usually you will need to place noodles in boiling water for about 2 minutes or until they have softened. Drain noodles and rinse in cold water
  3. Place shitake mushrooms and fried tofu in broth and simmer for a further 5 minutes, or until tender
  4. Divide noodles into two bowls, filling each with the vegetable stock, tofu and mushrooms
  5. Garnish with spring onions, bean sprouts, fresh herbs and a slice of lemon or lime. If you’re looking for an extra kick then add some freshly cut chillies or sriracha hot sauce.

Note: For a more complex flavour you can add star anise, coriander seeds, cardamon, whole cloves or cinnamon to the vegetable stock. It’s worth making a big batch of stock and freezing it to use at a later stage.

Bon Appetite!

 

Rene Buckle

rene@bjournal.co

Feature image: DeaShoot via the Creative Commons License

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