A steaming bowl of pho isn't just a delectable treat during the chilly winter season; it's also a nutritional powerhouse brimming with anti-inflammatory spices and functional ingredients that bolster our immune defenses.
Consider the remarkable Star Anise, for instance, which is not only known for its unique flavor but also as the source of a compound called shikimic acid. Shikimic acid is a crucial component used in the manufacture of oseltamivir, a well-known antiviral medication marketed as Tamiflu®.
Meanwhile, ingredients like shiitake mushrooms, garlic, and ginger contribute their own immune-healthy benefits, and Kombu adds a mixture of enriching mineral like iodine and that delightful umami flavor to the mix.
1 yellow onion, peeled and cut into big wedges
1 sweetcorn corn, cut into 2 inch segments
4 1-inch pieces ginger
2 heads of garlic
1 carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 small daikon, cut into 1 inch chunks
5 dried shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
1 cinnamon stick
10 cardamom pods
4 star anise pods
1 tbsp whole cloves
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorn
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
1 long piece of Kombu (5+ inch)
1 sachet Umami Dashi (link this product) - if you are not vegan, you can use fish sauce
7 ounces extra-firm tofu, cubed, rub with garlic powder, five-spice powder, salt and pan-fried
8 ounces rice vermicelli or glass noodles, cooked according to the instructions on the packaged
1 cups mung bean sprouts (optional)
1 lime, sliced into wedges
½ cup cilantro
½ cup thinly sliced onion
Sriracha in a side dipping dish
Optional but nice to have: Thai basil leaves, mint leaves, Lime slices
In a frying pan over medium heat, toast the star anise, cinnamon, cardamom, black peppercorn, fennel, and coriander seeds until aromatic, about 2-3 minute, moving them frequently in the pan. Turn off the heat and let cool for a few minutes, then transfer the toasted spices into a spice bag and set aside.
Preheat your oven to 500 broil, place the yellow onion, garlic and ginger on a rack and broil until brown, turning them so almost all sides are browned (depending on your oven, this can happen quickly, so keep an eye and don’t burn them!) Turn off the oven and let these cool before handling
Peel the browned outer layers of the onion, garlic and ginger.
Fill a pot with 16 cups of water. Place all the soup ingredients and the spice bag, charred onion, garlic and ginger into the pot, cover and bring to boil.
Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until broth is golden in color and fragrant, about 60 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and return back to your stock pot. Add the Umami Dashi sachet. If you are not vegan you can use 2tbsp fish sauce to replace the Umami Dashi sachet. Taste the broth and adjust saltiness by adding more salt if needed.
While the broth is simmering, sprinkle garlic powder, 5-spice powder, and salt over your sliced/cubed tofu pieces, and pan fry these on both sides until golden brown.
Cook your noodles according to instruction, and slice up the herbs for garnish
To serve, divide the noodles into 4 bowls. Place the herbs, onions, tofu, and then ladle the hot broth into the bowl. (Optional) Add a squeeze of lime and dip the tofu pieces into Sriracha