Easy Tofu Pho
Pho is a delicious Vietnamese noodle soup made with rice noodles, broth, meat, seafood or a vegetarian alternative, and herbs. Beef and chicken are the most popular flavors but you can make a great vegetarian pho with tofu. This easy tofu pho is just gorgeous and you’ll love the flavors.
This is a well-loved street food in Vietnam, and the Southern Vietnamese enjoy it for breakfast or lunch, while those in the north of the country have it at any time of the day or evening.
History of Pho Soup
This dish dates back to the early 1900s and refugees introduced it to the rest of the world after the Vietnam War. There is no proof of the cultural influences responsible for this soup or where the word pho comes from, because it is not well documented. There are Saigon and Hanoi styles, each made with different width noodles, herbs and broth sweetness, and other types of pho such as fusion varieties in experimental restaurants. Try our easy tofu pho recipe if you’re new to pho and don’t want to use meat.
In the late 1920s pho vendors experimented with a cinnamon, star anise, clove and sesame seasoning but this didn’t really take off. Rare beef pho was popular by 1930 and it’s believed chicken pho came out in 1939 (maybe because you couldn’t get beef on Mondays or Fridays during this era).
More than a million people fled North Vietnam for the South in 1954 which is when pho really took off in the South of Vietnam. Various garnishes like bean sprouts, cilantro, lime, hoisin sauce, chili sauce and cinnamon basil were experimented with and soon became incorporated into the standard recipe. Privatized pho restaurants in the North started making pho noodles from old rice, while street vendors had to use noodles made with imported potato flour.
Our Recipe for Easy Tofu Pho
The following easy tofu pho recipe is made with tofu along with onions, ginger, broth, hoisin sauce and more. There are some optional ingredients in the list, along with some serving suggestions. This makes 4 large portions of easy tofu pho or 6 smaller ones.
- 64 fl oz (2 liters) meat or vegetable broth (preferably homemade)
- 1 tablespoon peeled, grated fresh ginger root
- Salt, to taste
- 6 thinly sliced green onions
- 1½ tablespoons butter
- 1½ tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 7 oz (200g) uncooked rice noodles
- 7 oz (200g) firm tofu, chopped into blocks
- 8 oz (230g) bean sprouts
- 6 oz (170g) shiitake mushrooms, tough stems removed
- 2 thinly sliced jalapeños
- Fresh cilantro, basil, hoisin sauce, lime wedges and chili-garlic sauce or hot sauce
- Put the broth in a large pot with the ginger, salt and green onions.
- Bring it to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer 15 minutes.
- Cook the rice noodles in the broth, for the amount of time stated on the package.
- Melt the butter in a skillet over a moderate heat.
- Add the mushrooms and sauté them for 6 minutes or until tender.
- Stir them often.
- Now stir in the tofu, sesame oil and hoisin sauce.
- Cook for a minute or until the sauce has thickened.
- Take the pan off the heat.
- Divide the rice noodles between 6 large bowls.
- Fill each one with the broth.
- Add bean sprouts, mushrooms and/or jalapeños if using.
- Garnish with cilantro and basil.
- Serve hoisin sauce, lime wedges and/or chili-garlic on the side if liked.