Robust, deeply savory broth spiked with equally bold and nuanced spices are the defining characteristics of any successful bowl of pho. Rice noodles are an essential component, soaking in those carefully honed, painstakingly crafted layers of flavor, but never the stars of the show. It all comes down to the soup itself, sometimes simmered for hours, if not days, built upon generations of family secrets.
Celebrated across Vietnam and now the world at large, that same passion for the process sometimes gets lost in translation, especially when searching for a vegan option. Pho Chay, born of Buddhist traditions that take all forms of meat off the dinner table, is all too often a sad, watered-down tease. Plain vegetable broth is not an adequate substitution for this edible art, but if you don’t know any better, how can one possibly get the delicate seasoning right?
With as many recipes as there are cooks that make it, happily, there are no hard and fast rules for building a better broth. That’s why even a blatantly “inauthentic” rendition can still soothe those soulful soup cravings.
Inspired by the uniquely aromatic blend of cinnamon, clove, ginger and cardamom found in Stash Chai Spice Black Tea, Pho Chai is both a crafty play on words and a delicious departure from the norm. The blend of strong Assam, muscatel Darjeeling, and well-balanced Nilgiri found in every sachet add surprising umami flavor along with unexpected sweet Indian spices. Energetic notes of cardamom and ginger brighten this bowl, harmonizing beautifully with the fresh spray of herbs piled on top. Perhaps the concept is dubious on paper, but unquestionably compelling on the tongue.
You’ll want to stock up on this warm, spicy tea for more than just soup. Head over to StashTea.com and use the promo code BITTERSWEET-SC to get discount off your purchase, and don’t forget to follow them on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for both sweet and savory tea inspiration.
Spice up your typical approach to vegetarian pho chay by turning it into pho chai! Black chai tea gives this soulful bowlful of noodles a bold new flavor.
- 1 Tablespoon Toasted Sesame Oil
- 1 Medium Shallot, Minced
- 2 Cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
- 2 Quarts Vegan Chicken Broth or Vegetable Stock
- 1/2 Cup Dried Sliced Shiitake Mushrooms
- 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
- 4 Bags Stash Chai Spice Black Tea
- 1 Whole Star Anise
Toppings and Garnishes:
- 6 - 7 Ounces Rice Vermicelli Noodles
- 8 Ounces Baked or Fried Tofu, Sliced
- 1 - 2 Cups Soybean or Mung Bean Sprouts
- 6 Sprigs Fresh Thai Basil
- 6 Sprigs Fresh Mint
- 6 Sprigs Fresh Cilantro
- 2 Scallions, Thinly Sliced
- 2 Limes, Cut into Wedges
- 2 Jalapeno, Sliced
- 5 Tablespoons Hoisin Sauce
- 3 - 5 Tablespoons Sriracha or Chili Garlic Sauce
- Begin preparing the broth by heating the sesame oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic, sauteing until aromatic and just beginning to caramelize around the edges; about 10 minutes.
- Quickly pour in the broth to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom with your spatula to make sure nothing sticks and scorches later on. Add the dried mushrooms, soy sauce, tea bags, and star anise. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove and discard the spent tea bags and star anise.
- While the broth simmers, set another medium pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. Cook the rice noodles according to the package (typically no more than 1 - 3 minutes) until tender and immediately drain. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking, preventing the noodles from turning into mush later when they hit the hot soup.
- To assemble, divide the noodles between 4 - 6 large bowls and top with broth. Garnish with tofu, bean sprouts, fresh herbs, limes, jalapenos, hoisin, and hot sauce as desired.
- Serve steaming hot!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 896Total Fat: 36gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 169mgSodium: 898mgCarbohydrates: 79gFiber: 9gSugar: 9gProtein: 65g
All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimates.
5 thoughts on “Pho-Nomenal”
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Wonderful pho chai! Love this soup for the beautiful soul-stirring aroma.
This sounds perfect, love the use of chai and can’t wait to try. Thanks!
Oh yummy, I love Pho! I have to try this with the chai:) First time I had pho was in a Vietnamese restaurant in Boston, and I fell in love,
What a great idea, Hannah! And, of course, beautiful, enticing photos.