Vietnamese food is notoriously meat based and can be problematic for us ethical eaters. With such a varied diet the Vietnamese aren’t afraid to try anything and when they eat meat they eat it in abundance. Literally no part of the animal goes to waste. This means it’s hard to find a dish that doesn’t have and animal products in it. We’ve created this vegan Vietnamese pho recipe so you can enjoy the famous national dish in all it’s glory whilst keeping it vegan. With Tết (Vietnamese New Year) being celebrated this Friday it’s the perfect opportunity to whip up this cultural favourite. This dish is flavoursome, fresh and warming and can be enjoyed all year round. Let us know what you think in the comments below and tag us with #veggievagabonds on social media.
History began in Vietnam in 12,000 BC when people settled around the Hong River Valley as they could sustain themselves through hunting and harvesting crops. It’s come a long way and with a population of 92.7 million people, Vietnam is now one of the most densely populated countries in the world. A former colony of China, Vietnam adopted Confucianism and Buddhism and whilst retaining its own character has also taken a lot of influences from Chinese cuisine.
Vietnamese food has long been influenced by different cultures and countries which has given its dishes an eclectic and distinct flavour. In the 10th century the region was invaded by Mongolia and with them they brought cows. The Vietnamese would use the cows to harvest rice and the wealthy would eat them as they were expensive. The introduction of beef gave way to dishes such as bo bay mon (beef cooked seven ways) and pho bo (beef noodle soup).
Between 1858 – 1954 Vietnam was colonised by the French and their presence influenced the cuisine and culture significantly. The French introduced baguettes, pâté, coffee, cakes and are believed to have inspired pho. All these foods can be seen in many regions of Vietnam today.
Vietnam’s food history has not always been so flourishing. Historically and still in parts today people live off the land. This can be problematic as conditions are not always favourable and can result in food shortages and famine. When the American and Vietnam War ended in 1975 rice production in the country was at an all-time low. A change in the structure of farming meant people lacked motivation, coupled with land damage due to mines and agent orange resulted in widespread food shortages. As a result Vietnam was listed as one of the poorest countries in the world in 1980. Although some parts of Vietnam are still very poor, today the countries’ economy is on the rise and it’s now the 5th largest rice exporter in the world.
Food is a massive part of Vietnamese culture and they are very proud of their cuisine. Rice is a staple ingredient and is used to make rice wine, rice noodles, rice paper and much more! Northern Vietnam being close to China has more culinary similarities, using soy sauce, black pepper and frying as a method of cooking. In contrast the south predominantly uses fish sauce and simmers food instead of frying.
The exact origin of Pho (pronounced fur) is unknown as there’s no written record, instead recipes have been passed down orally through generations. It’s believed to have been created in the 20th century when the country was under the rule of France. The name pho sounds similar to the French word feu which means fire. Pot au feu translates as pot of fire and it’s thought this is where the name pho comes from. The dish is believed to have originated when the French killed cows for their meat, the Vietnamese would then use the discarded bones to make the stock for the broth.
Being close to the Chinese boarder the original recipe has influences from Chinese cuisine such as the addition of soy sauce. Noodles had been consumed in China long before they found their way to Vietnam. With rice always being a staple part of the Vietnamese diet, after the introduction of noodles it wasn’t long before the two merged to make rice noodles.
Pho was born in the North of Vietnam, near the capital of Hanoi as it was originally peasant food sold by nomadic food vendors on the side of the road. Boiling the broth for a long time was a sure way to get rid of any bacteria and the flexibility of ingredients made it appealing to people across the country. The French who occupied the country at the time grew very found of pho because of its subtle flavours and aromas of beef. Traditionally it was also enjoyed by Chinese migrant workers as it reminded them of home. Fast forward hundreds of years and pho has made it way across the world and is now enjoyed globally as the national food of Vietnam.
Pho differs across the nation but some staple ingredients include cinnamon, star anise, cloves, bean sprouts, basil, lime, spring onions, mint, carrots and depending on where you are in the country soy or fish sauce.
This vegan Vietnamese pho recipe is our take on the classic and it’s encompasses all the authentic flavours whilst keeping it cruelty free. Based on the scrumptious pho we gobbled up whilst living in Hanoi we keep this recipe true to its roots. With subtle flavours of cinnamon, star anise and cloves this recipe is based on the traditionally pho recipes from the North. The addition of mint and coriander give this dish a fresh, vibrant taste. With Tết on the horizon this recipe is a great way to mark the occasion, or just to whip up when you fancy something warming and flavoursome. Let us know what you think of this recipe in the comments below and as always #veggievagabonds us on social media!
Vegan Pho Recipe
1 white onion
6 cloves of garlic
2 cinnamon sticks
2 whole star anise
Thumb sized piece of ginger
1.5 litres of vegetable stock
2 tablespoons of garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons of soy sauce
100 grams of mushrooms
2 nests of rice noodles
1 large carrot
3 large handfuls of bean sprouts
A handful of fresh coriander
A handful of fresh mint
Half a lime
2 spring onions
1. In a pan dry toast the cinnamon, star anise and cloves stirring often to stop them burning for about 5 minutes.
2. Add the sliced onion, garlic cloves, sliced ginger and vegetable stock to the pan. Bring to the boil then cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.
3. In the meantime lightly fry the mushrooms with some crushed garlic and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Then prepare the noodles by boiling them until there nearly cooked.
5. Distribute the noodles between two bowls.
6. Strain the bits from the broth and distribute between the two bowls.
7. Add the garish of bean sprouts, shredded carrot, mushrooms, spring onions, coriander, mint and lime.
Serve and enjoy right away!