“Health starts in the kitchen,” says writer My Nguyen, who created the blog My Healthy Dish based on the goings-on in her own kitchen. All the recipes she shares on her popular Instagram account are first made at home for her family — and this pho shows up on her dinner table at least once a week. Don’t be intimidated if you’ve never made Vietnamese noodle soup. As a busy mom, My is a master of finding ways to take shortcuts in the kitchen — without taking shortcuts on flavor. Make this once and you’ll have the hang of it for future fast pho.
1 (14-ounce) block firm tofu, drained and pressed (see Tip)
1½ tablespoons coconut oil
12 cups vegetable broth
1 ounce star anise (about 4 pods)
2 ounces grated peeled fresh ginger (about 2 tablespoons)
4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
½ medium white onion, diced
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more as needed
1½ teaspoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
8 ounces rice noodles
2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
4 medium heads baby bok choy, quartered lengthwise
Fresh Thai basil leaves
Fresh lime juice
1. Slice the tofu into 8 thin rectangular pieces.
2. Melt the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the tofu and fry for 3 to 5 minutes per side, until crispy and golden brown on both sides.
3. In a large stockpot, combine the broth, star anise, ginger, garlic, onion, salt, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, and simmer, with the lid ajar, for 30 minutes, or until the flavors have melded.
4. Meanwhile, in a separate large pot, bring 10 cups water to a boil over high heat. Dunk the rice noodles into the boiling water for 30 seconds, just until softened, then drain. Divide the noodles among four bowls.
5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer all the solid ingredients from the broth to a medium bowl and cover, leaving only the clear broth in the pot. Add the shiitakes and bok choy to the broth. Season with a generous pinch of salt and cook until the bok choy and shiitakes start to wilt slightly.
6. Divide the cooked vegetables, fried tofu, and hot broth evenly among the bowls. Top each with Thai basil leaves, lime juice, hoisin, and sriracha and serve hot.
Tip: To drain your tofu, pat it dry, wrap it in paper towels, then set it on a plate with another heavy plate or other object on top. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes before cooking.
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