Posts Tagged ‘spicy’

Faux Pho: Vegetarian Pho

And we’re back. (the royal we, that is, since you have little to do with these posts.) This is part two of our pan-Asian feast, and you should still be hungry after the TVP egg rolls, considering they were over a month ago.

Below is my recipe for faux pho, or vegetarian/ vegan pho with seitan. If you knew me in the last year before my veggie turn, you know that I wanted to inject pho directly into my veins; I used it to celebrate, to mourn, to energize, to relax, to turn on, and turn off. I used to live in a town outside of DC and frequented a place—Pho 75—that looked like a shitty high school cafeteria had a baby with a scene from Apocalypse Now. But they served a huge, cheap, steaming bowl of pho replete with Sriracha and tripe. Wondrous offal aside, the staple beef broth makes pho a no-no, so I had to adapt. Welcome to the adaptation, kids.

And please no asshats who say, “This isn’t pho because it isn’t beef based,” “The noodles/ sprouts aren’t correct,” or any other frivolous critiques. Shut up and, like I say in my about this veg virgin, take my recipe and do with it as your tongue sees fit.

Ingredients for the broth:

7 – 8 cups vegetable broth

1 medium onion, quartered

1-inch hunk of ginger, skinned and sliced

8+ garlic cloves, crushed

2 tbs. ground anise

3 tbs. ground clove

1 tsp. cinnamon

4 tbs. soy sauce

1 tbs. cayenne pepper

1 tbs. olive or sesame oil

Ingredients for everything else:

1 lb. buckwheat soba noodles (or rice noodles)

8 – 16 oz. diced seitan, depending on your protein concerns (tofu also works; just double the amount)

7 scallions, thinly sliced

2 big handfuls of bean sprouts (I used the skinny ones, but the fat are excellent too.)

2 big handfuls of basil leaves, whole

1 – 2 limes, cut into wedges (or a really convenient bottle of lime juice)


hoisin (although I don’t really use hoisin)

Makes 4-6 servings.

To make the broth, heat the broth over a medium to medium-high heat. Use a big ass pot, because it’s a group swim by the end of the recipe. Char—but do not burn!—the onion, ginger, and garlic in the oil. After the broth begins to steam, dump in all of other ingredients for the broth, veggies included. Slowly bring the broth to a boil, drop the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the broth, and keep the solids if you’re feeling economical. For the faux pho, though, you’ll only need the liquid.

To make the soup, cook the noodles appropriately (or inappropriately, if it doesn’t get too messy and weird). Strain. When you’re getting close to serving time, add the seitan to the hot broth to heat it through. Divide the noodles into the desired portions and portion out the seitan with a slotted spoon. Next, cover the noodles with your beefy non-beef broth. Serve with the basil, sprouts, lime (juice), Sriracha, and hoisin. This is an interactive meal, so everyone can dress as desired.

Enjoy, bitches. Make sure to keep chopsticks, a big-ass spoon, and sweat napkin handy throughout.

Non-Veg Friendly Factor: 4.734. Everyone I served this to loved it, from vegetarians to dedicated and stubborn omnivores, two of who aren’t even big fans of standard pho. The dish was just as comforting, tasty, contingently spicy, and satisfying as I remember. It was at my kitchen table instead of a dive pho place with Vietnamese on the menu, but I found some familiar escape in my steaming bowl of noodles. I will be honest about something: I don’t exactly remember what beef broth tastes like; so while I stand by mine as a good approximation—especially of pho broth—I’m not willing to say it will make you forget about bovine liquid (although the phrase bovine liquid might).


Baked Chile Rellenos

Fried food is awesome. Cheesy food is awesome. Spicy food is awesome. Unfortunately, two of the three can he brutal to your health when consumed too often (whereas the third can just be every other kind of brutal). Hence my dilemma with chile rellenos: friggin’ awesome, but friggin’ brutal. Below is a baked version that manages to keep the crispiness, thanks to panko flakes, and cheesiness, thanks to sour cream and fat free cheese.

Here are the ingredients:

6 poblano peppers, as dark and firm as you can find (TWSS)

1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1/2-cup sour cream

1-cup fat free cheddar cheese

1-cup panko breadcrumbs (possibly more, if needed)

1 pinch each salt, pepper, Adobo light seasoning

1 egg

1/2-cup skim milk

Makes 3-6 servings.

Roast the peppers. (I have a section on roasting peppers on another page.) When the peppers are done roasting and the skin is removed, cut a 2-3 inch slit in each—enough to get some stuffing in there. Here’s a really important step: extract as much of the veins and seeds as you can; this is where all of the heat is. I can handle spicy stuff so I only took out about 2/3 of the seeds. I was sweating by the end of my meal and looking for something to cool my mouth off. Any spicier and I probably wouldn’t have been able to finish my meal. So, if you don’t like spicy, be really anal about getting the innards out or use another kind of pepper.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Heat the oil over medium-high heat and add the diced onions. Sprinkle on the salt, pepper, and Adobo light to add some flavor and help the sweating process. Heat the onions until they are soft and translucent. When they’re finished, take them off the heat and allow them to cool. When they’re at room temperature mix the onions, sour cream, and cheddar cheese in a bowl to make the filling. You want a pretty chunky mix, so use as much or as little sour cream as you think necessary (or tasty). All of these steps should be able to happen while the peppers are roasting.

Once the roasted peppers are gutted, gently stuff them with the filling. Seriously, be gentle—the peppers are pretty fragile and any extra tearing can make the whole process really obnoxious. Once they’re all stuffed, use toothpicks to close up the seams. Normally I would recommend a suture type closure, but since the peppers are so slippery and fragile I had to insert the toothpicks across the seam perpendicular to the pepper.

Now whisk the egg and milk in a large bowl. Spread the breadcrumbs on a plate. Cover the peppers in the egg wash and cover them with the panko. Place them in a baking sheet and bake for 15 – 20mins, or until the breadcrumbs are golden.

I served mine with some Goya sofrito lightly spread on top. Of course, you can include anything: limes, salsa rojo, salsa verde, chunky guacamole, etc. In fact, I have a mind to spoon-over some of my Baller-Ass Chili the next time I eat these. I’d even recommend some seasoned rice under the whole mess.

Non-Veg Friendly Factor: 5. This recipe is basically a healthified version of something any omnivore would be happy ordering at a restaurant or eating at a bar. It’s not even fair to have this rating in this case. But then again, omnivores can eat anything vegs eat, not vice versa. If anything, I should give a Non-Healthy Friendly Factor, which would probably be 3 or 3.5. Imitating fried food can be difficult, and anyone craving it probably will have a hard time settling for something less. But for those of us willing to compromise just a bit, this recipe is exactly what belongs on your plate.