Vietnamese pho with spicy tofu

November 23, 2014

Pho is another one of those dishes I used to take for granted when I lived in the states and now can’t seem to find anywhere in the East Mids (sorry, Wagamama doesn’t count). It’s the perfect food for a cold, a hangover or when you just need a big, warming, slurpy bowl of noodles.

Pho is traditionally made with meat, but you can still get all the same great flavors without it. I like to add my usual spicy baked tofu that I use for miso bowls, but you can also chop up some pre-baked tofu, pieces of seitan or just sauté up some meaty mushrooms instead. Or, let the noodles and toppings speak for themselves. That’s what I love about this dish – it really lends itself to being customized.

Here is my recipe for pho – my idea of the perfect winter weather meal.

Serves 4

  • 1.5 liters vegetable stock
  • 2 star anise
  • 4-5 whole cloves
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 inches ginger, peeled and chopped into coins
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp tamari
  • 1 packet dry rice noodles (225g)

For the tofu

  • 1 block of firm tofu, drained and cut into cubes
  • 2 tbsp Tamari or soy sauce
  • Juice from 1/2 a lime
  • 2 tsp sriracha
  • 2 tsp sesame oil


  • Large bunch of bean sprouts
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • Large handful each of: mint, basil, coriander
  • 1 lime cut into wedges
  • 1-2 red and green chilies, sliced
  • Sriracha to taste
  • Hoisin sauce to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 220c. Combine the sriracha, lime juice, tamari and sesame oil in a bowl and add the tofu to marinate. Place to the tofu on a baking tray and bake for 20-30 minutes, tossing once or twice.
  2. Cook the rice noodles according to the packet. Drain and rince under cool water and set aside.
  3. Heat a large pan over medium heat and add the star anise, cloves, coriander seeds, ginger and cinnamon and dry fry for 4-5 minutes until the spices start to become fragrant. Add the vegetable stock and tamari, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Divide the noodles between 4 bowls. Top with the bean sprouts, herbs, chilies, tofu, sriracha, hoisin and serve with a wedge of lime. Enjoy!
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