2 large onions
6 cloves shallots
4 oz whole ginger (about 2 large)
16 whole cloves
1 stick cinnamon
8 whole star anise
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
4 medium parsnips (about 1.5 lb total)
Better than Bouillon No Beef Base for 8 cups water
4-6 oz TVP slices, Japanese beefy style (1 pkg) or beefy seitan strips
6 oz oyster mushrooms, optional
1/4 cup vegetarian fish sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos or soy sauce or Toyomansi
12 cups water
1 lb rice noodles for pho (1/4 inch wide) 1/2 medium onions 1/2 cup cilantro sprigs 1 1/2 cups bean sprouts 1 bunch fresh mint leaves 1 bunch fresh Thai basil leaves
Chili Garlic sauce or Sriracha hot sauce Vegetarian Hoisin sauce Freshly ground black pepper Lime wedges from 1 lime
Charring the vegetables:
- Peel the outer layer of the onions but not all the way, leave the last layer of the onion skin. Then, cut them in halves. Take each half and stud it with 4 whole cloves. There will be 4 halves studded with 16 whole cloves.
- Pound the whole ginger (unpeeled) with something heavy like a pestle or the back of a cleaver, two or three times. Leave the skins on the shallots but rub them with paper towels to clean the outer parts.
- I use my oven broiler on high to bake the onion halves studded with cloves, smashed ginger roots, whole shallots on oiled baking pan. Turn them over after 10 minutes. Keep turning until most of the surface are charred. This process takes about 30 minutes depending on how hot your oven is. They don't have to be all blackened and charred but the onions and shallots should become soft. Let them cool and set aside. At this point, they can be refrigerated in a container.
- Dissolve the bouillon paste in 12 cups hot water in a large soup pot or a 7-quarts pressure cooker pot.
- Take out some of the blackened skins of the onions, ginger, and shallots. Put them into the prepared broth.
- Wrap the star anise, cinnamon stick, and black peppercorns in a cheesecloth and then tie it tight with a string. Put this spice bag in the broth pot too.
- Peel the parsnips and cut them into 1-inch chunks. Put them into the broth pot. Boil this mixture for at least 1 hour. The faster method is to pressure cook them on high pressure for 30 minutes (this is what I did). Then use the quick release method when it is done.
- Get another large pot ready and strain the ingredients that were boiled in the broth by using a colander or cloth. I throw away all the parsnips, onions, ginger, shallots, and the spices.
- At this time, add the 1/4 cup vegetarian fish sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos or soy sauce. I found that I didn't have to add salt since the bouillon paste is salty enough.
- While the broth is cooking, reconstitute the TVP slices in warm water (don't need to do this if using beefy seitan). Soak the rice noodles in warm water. Wash oyster mushrooms and tear them apart in large pieces. Slice the 1/2 medium onion very thin and soak them in warm water (to remove their strong juices).
Wash the bean sprouts thoroughly and then drain them in colander. Wash the mint and basil leaves thoroughly and then drain in a colander. Cut the mint and basil leaves from the stalks. Serve them raw on top of a serving plate (see picture above).
Assembling the noodle bowl:
- Boil 8 cups of water and throw in the soaked rice noodles and let it boil again, then drain quickly. Do not overcook the rice noodles which is done quickly in 2 to 3 minutes. It is not like pasta.
- Divide the drained noodles among large bowls. Drain the thinly sliced onions and divide them and put them on top of the noodles.
- Ladle the hot and boiling Pho broth with the TVP slices/beefy seitan strips and mushrooms on top of the noodles and serve them immediately with cilantro sprigs on top and the raw vegetables and condiments on the side. Tips: the broth needs to be boiling hot before you laddle it on the noodles.