Sunday, June 7, 2009

Pho Faux

Pho Faux

Pho is the national dish of Vietnam, a soup featuring rich complexly flavored beef stock and rice noodles. Our version is vegetarian using neither of the two canonical ingredients, hence we call it Pho Faux.

Soups begin and end with stocks. There are three options for making the stock - with roasted vegetables, raw vegetables or a mix of the two. Roasting brings out depth of flavor, an extra richness, a roundness and sweetness, making for an almost meaty taste. Unroasted vegetables make for a lighter more transparent taste. In this recipe we're roasting all the root vegetables.

3 large turnips, peels on (unless waxed), coarsely chopped
5 large potatoes, peels on, coarsely chopped
6 large carrots, peels on, coarsely chopped
3 large onions, peels on, coarsely chopped
1 head garlic, skins on, chopped
2 tablespoons or more canola or light olive oil
Salt and pepper, freshly ground
2 large stalks celery
1 - 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 pound Parmesan rinds, cubed (optional)
6 peppercorns
4 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1 teaspoon or more hot red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 cup dry white wine
16 cups water
1 medium head bok choy
1 heaping tablespoon garlic, minced and mashed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons dried basil, crushed
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 - 12 ounce can garbanzo beans
1/4 teaspoon liquid hickory smoke flavor
1 tablespoon preserved lemons, minced (or juice and zest of 1 lemon

5 packages ramen

1-1/2 pounds firm tofu, rinsed, pressed and cubed
Tofu marinade
2 tablespoons dark miso
1 tablespoon ketchup
3 tablespoons Vietnamese vegetarian fish sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 425°.
2. Wash, trim and coarsely chop the stock vegetables. The skins may be left on (and in fact add flavor), but peel the turnip if it is waxed. Toss the root vegetables (the first 5 ingredients) in a bowl with the oil to coat evenly. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Spread out in a single layer on rimmed baking sheets. Roast on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour at 425°.
3. Rinse and drain the tofu. Press between two plates to expel excess water. Cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Place in a medium mixing bowl.
4. Whisk the marinade ingredients together in a small mixing bowl. Toss with the tofu to coat evenly.
5. Spread out the tofu in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 425° for about 1 hour, removing when the vegetables are done.
6. Add the roasted vegetables and the rest of the stock ingredients to a large cooking pot. Cover. Bring to a boil over a high flame. Lower the heat and simmer for 1-1/2 hours.
7. Heat the olive oil for the vegetables in a large skillet over a medium flame. Add the garlic and saute for a minute or so.
8. Add the bok choy, basil and ginger. Saute for 10 minutes or so, until al dente or tender-crisp. Add the three remaining ingredients. Cover and set aside.
9. Strain the stock, pressing to expel all the juices. Skim, if needed, to remove any excess oil. Transfer the stock to a large enameled cast iron cooking pot (from which you'll serve at the table).
10. Add the bok choy to the pot. Bring to a boil over a medium flame. Add the noodles. Cook for 5 minutes or so. Add the tofu.