Recipe courtesy of Susan Vu for Food Network Kitchen

Vegan Pho

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 2 hr
  • Active: 1 hr 30 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
I have enjoyed many bowls of pho in my life, and the best versions have been deeply savory with a slight back note of sweet, extremely aromatic from warm spices and so rich there is usually a slick of beef or chicken fat floating at the top of the broth. I've employed a few tricks here to build a vegan version with those same delicious characteristics. I use mushrooms three ways—mushroom broth for the base, mushroom stems to enrich the base and sauteed beech and shiitake mushroom caps added right before serving — to bring deep umami flavor. Additionally, an easy scallion-garlic oil gets drizzled on top to add that signature unctuousness that makes a good bowl of pho so addictive.



  1. Cut the tofu in half lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick pieces. You should have about 20 square-ish pieces. Line a large plate or small baking sheet with a couple layers of paper towels, then top with the tofu, arranging the pieces in a single layer as much as possible. Lay a couple layers of paper towels on top of the tofu and lightly press down so that the paper towels start to stick to the tofu. Let dry for at least 30 minutes at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Heat a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium to medium-high heat. Add the peppercorns, coriander seeds, cinnamon sticks and star anise and toast, stirring and flipping occasionally, until the spices are extremely fragrant, about 2 minutes. Carefully add 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil to the hot pot. Add the yellow onion, ginger and reserved stems of the shiitake and beech mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and starting to blacken in spots, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Slowly add the mushroom broth, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Stir in the pear, 1 tablespoon salt and 12 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, about 20 minutes, then reduce to a simmer. Partially cover the pot with a lid and continue to cook until the broth is dark brown and deeply flavorful, about another 45 minutes.
  4. While the broth is simmering, add 1/2 cup vegetable oil to a large heavy-bottomed skillet and heat over medium high until the oil is hot and shimmering, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and immediately add the garlic, scallions and a large pinch of salt to the hot oil. Stir to combine, then continue to stir until the scallions wilt slightly but are still bright green, about 1 minute. Transfer the scallion-garlic oil to a small bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
  5. Allow the skillet to cool slightly, then add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and heat over medium high until shimmering. Season the tofu slices with salt and pepper. Add half of the tofu to the hot oil and cook until well browned and slightly crispy, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove to a large plate. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and cook the remaining tofu; remove to the plate.
  6. Tear the beech mushrooms into smaller clusters (some will completely separate which is okay) and add to the skillet with the shiitake mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are well browned and tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then remove to the same plate as the tofu.
  7. Pour the broth through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large saucepan, then discard the solids (you should have 8 to 10 cups of broth total). Taste the broth and season with additional salt if needed. The broth should be deeply savory and highly seasoned since the pho noodles are unsalted. Cover the saucepan with a lid and keep the broth hot over low heat.
  8. Give the stockpot or Dutch oven a quick rinse, then fill halfway with water, cover with a lid and bring to a boil over high heat.
  9. Arrange the red onion, jalapeño, lime wedges, bean sprouts and Thai basil on a small serving plate.
  10. Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook, giving them a quick stir, until they lose their shape and almost wilt down, about 5 seconds. Drain the noodles well. Working quickly, divide the noodles among 4 large serving bowls. If the noodles start to get too sticky, give them a quick rinse under hot water.
  11. Arrange the beech mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms and tofu over the noodles. Raise the heat under the broth to high and bring it to a strong simmer. Pour some of the hot broth into each bowl. Drizzle a heaping tablespoon of the scallion-garlic oil into each bowl, then top with black pepper. Serve immediately with the plate of toppings, hoisin sauce and sriracha on the side. If you have any leftover scallion-garlic oil, it can be stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Cook’s Note

Fresh rice stick noodles can be found in the refrigerated section of most Southeast Asian grocery stores, but you can also substitute 12 ounces of good-quality dried flat rice noodles and prepare them according to the package directions.