Slow-cooking is a great way to develop the deep, rich flavor of pho, the Vietnamese noodle soup. Traditionally made with beef, this version is made with seitan or “wheat-meat.” Rice sticks, miso paste, seitan, and hoisin sauce are all available in well-stocked supermarkets, natural food stores, and Asian markets. Look for star anise in supermarkets and Asian markets. If unavailable, you can leave it out without seriously altering the flavor of the soup.
- 1 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 small green chile, seeded and chopped
- 3 slices fresh ginger
- 2 whole star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 tablespoons tamari or other soy sauce
- 5 cups vegetable stock (see Notes)
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 4 ounces seitan, cut into strips
- 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 1½ tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons barley miso paste dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water
- 6 ounces dried rice sticks, soaked 15 minutes in cold water to soften, then drained
- ½ cup fresh bean sprouts for garnish
- 4 scallions, chopped, for garnish
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
1. In a 4-quart slow cooker, combine the onion, chile, ginger, anise, cinnamon stick, tamari, and stock; cover, and cook on Low for 6 hours.
2. Meanwhile or beforehand, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the seitan strips, and brown on all sides. Remove from the heat and set aside.
3. Strain the stock and return the broth to the cooker.
4. In a small bowl, combine the hoisin, lime juice, and miso paste mixture, then add to the broth. Stir in the drained rice sticks and seitan and cook 5 to 10 minutes longer, or until the rice sticks are soft.
5. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the bean sprouts, scallions, and cilantro.