Tag Archives: ginger

Easy Vegetarian Vietnamese Pho


If any of you follow the weather or look at your smartphones at the weather map, you already know that it has been ridiculously cold throughout the country this week. With wind chills in the negatives and the highs in the single digits, this January weather has not made my morning commutes all that pleasant.

My coworker Rob and I ride the same bus in the morning, and our mean bus driver refuses to drop us off closer to work like other buses do. She has no pity for us and she isn’t a morning person. With our transit center in town being rebuilt, the buses are lined up across the street from it. Not a huge deal, except it adds about 2 minutes of walking to our normal walk to the office. Also not a big deal, except when it’s -6 degrees with a windchill of -20, so by the time you do get to the office, your legs are nonexistent, as is your face.


And hey, I dress for cold weather. I live in Michigan, I’m not an idiot. But no matter how warm you dress, or how many layers you wear, or how tight you have your scarf, nothing can prepare you for that cold that hits your face gets when you step off the warm bus. Then when you get home your dog, who has a double coat and is made for weather like this, wants to play outside. And since the light is staying out longer each day, you feel guilt if you don’t play fetch with him in the backyard before you feed him.

Routine, people. I’m getting used to it. Cold weather. Also getting used to it. I have to come to terms with the fact that we most likely will not have an unusually warm winter like we did last year. Sad truth. But there are things you can do to help.


And that’s to make soup. Not just any soup. Vietnamese soup or Pho. So that’s exactly what I did. I’ve never made pho before but I have had it and if I didn’t live in Ann Arbor – the city where hippies and yuppies coexist harmoniously – I might not be able to find decent vegetarian pho that isn’t made with meat broth. There are several places that make some decent pho around here, but I decided to try making it myself.

And you know what? It was PHOnomenal. See what I did there?

Try it. It’s delicious and while I did use a shortcut to make this version, it turned out great, reheated great (for REB after class), and kept me warm while watching Full House reruns. Don’t judge me. I’ll never tire of Uncle Jesse and the whole gang.


Vegetarian Vietnamese Pho
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Easy Vietnamese noodle soup to warm you up this winter.
Recipe type: soup, noodle soup, vegetarian
Cuisine: Vietnamese, Asian, Soups
Serves: 4
  • 1 carton (4 cups) Vegetarian Pho soup base (Pacific natural foods brand or similar)
  • 1 small ginger root, peeled and cut into discs
  • 2 Serrano peppers (jalalpeno is fine), sliced into discs
  • 2 tablespoons Lite soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 12 oz. Shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean, stems removed and sliced
  • 8 oz. (half a block) extra firm tofu, sliced thin into strips or squares
  • 8 oz. Stir fry rice noodles
  • 1 lime, sliced into wedges
  • Garnishes: cilantro, basil, Serrano peppers and lime wedges
  1. Start by bringing a large pot of water to boil – about 20 minutes
  2. While the water comes to a boil, pour the entire carton of soup base into a large saucepan or pot over medium heat. Add the soy sauce, ginger discs and sliced Serrano pepper and heat through stirring occasionally.
  3. In a separate pan or skillet heat the olive oil.
  4. When it is hot, add the sliced mushrooms and cook until browned and tender, about 5-8 minutes.
  5. Remove the mushrooms, transfer to small bowl and set side.
  6. In the same pan, add the tofu slices and cook until browned on all side, another 8-10 minutes.
  7. When cooked, add the tofu to the simmering broth
  8. When the water is boiling, remove from heat and add the rice noodles. Let them sit/soak in the hot water for 8 minutes until softened.
  9. When done, drain and rinse noodles under cold water.
  11. Divide noodles among all bowls.
  12. Ladle some of of the broth over noodles, enough to slightly submerge them.
  13. Top bowls with tofu slices and mushrooms (about 2-3 pieces of tofu per bowl, a few mushrooms)
  14. Add your garnishes and squeeze lime wedge before serving
  15. Enjoy!


What foods are keeping you warm this winter?





Stir Fry on the Fly

Being vegetarian can sometimes be hard. Since we don’t eat meat, we have to find other ways to get protein into our diets.

Good thing we love tofu.  (^_^) Tonight REB and I felt a little Asian (a little easier for me than him. Bahahaha) and made a super easy tofu stir fry for dinner. If you’re not a big fan of tofu, you can of course use chicken, beef, pork, whatever you want.

What you’ll need:

For the stir fry:

•1 cup red bell pepper, thinly sliced – we just used one medium red bell pepper
•1 cup red onion, thinly sliced
•1/2 package of firm Tofu – this specific tofu we used was actually made and manufactured here in A2! All about supporting our local people!
•1/2 bag of frozen stir fry veggies
•2 cups brown rice (get that going before you start making your stir fry. Even with my awesome rice cooker, it took about 40 minutes for the brown rice to cook. It takes a lot longer than regular Basmati white rice)

For the sauce:
•1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
•1/2 tablespoon Hoisin sauce
•1 tablespoon minced garlic (I have the jar kind. Feel free to use fresh though, if you’d like!)
•1/2 tablespoon grated ginger (give or take. I love ginger)
•1 1/2 teaspoons Siracha (about 4-5 good squirts)
•3 tablespoons peanut butter
•1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
•1 1/2 teaspoons honey (I love my honey bear!)

Now, we didn’t have any peanut butter. …But we did have peanuts and we did have vegetable oil. So we used about 1/2 cup of dry roasted peanuts and about 1/2-to-1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Then we used my handy dandy mortar and pestle and ended up with this:
Prettttttty amazing!

Along with peanut butter, I loooove ginger. I’m pretty sure I’m having a secret affair with ginger (and garlic…….and Siracha. I’m thinking of seeing someone about this…). REB tells me that ginger looks like little babies or humans.
Hmmm, he may be onto something here…

Here’s a tip about ginger. If you buy a bunch of it and aren’t sure if you’re going to use it all within a week, have no fear! Peel the ginger and cut it up into medium-size pieces (like the one pictured above). Then you can put it into a food storage container and put it in the freezer. It’ll keep for up to a month! Then when you’re ready to use it, take out a piece, let it sit on the counter for about 5-10 minutes, then you can cut it, or grate it, and use it in your recipes! The more you knooooowww!! -star-

OK, enough rambling, let’s get stirring already!

Like I said earlier, get your brown rice going before you start making the stir fry. You can, of course, use white rice, but brown rice is high in fiber, the oil in it is very low in cholesterol and it’s vitamin-rich!

Heat a large, deep skillet on medium high. Put about 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil on the bottom of the skillet and wait for it to get warm. While that’s happening, cut the tofu into 1-inch strips about 1/4-inch thick. You don’t need to use the entire tofu container! You can use half, and store the rest to be used at another time.
Carefully place each tofu piece in the skillet. Be reaaaaally careful because the pan will be hot! But you want that kind of heat.

So while that’s spittering away, make the sauce:
Pour the vegetable oil, minced garlic, grated ginger and Hoisin sauce into a small bowl. If you’ve never had Hoisin sauce before, it’s got the consistency of ketchup so it’s a little thick, but it’s really sweet and savory in taste. A must-have in Asian cuisine!

Next, add the honey, Siracha and the peanut butter. Give it a good stir.

Last, add the soy sauce (since it’s your salt ingredient) and stir. You may need to grate more ginger into the sauce, which you know I fully support. Stir the entire sauce and taste it. It should be sweet and spicy, which ours was. You shouldn’t need to add any salt to this sauce since the soy sauce more than makes up for it.

Don’t forget about the tofu!

You want the tofu to be golden brown. This will take about 4-5 minutes on each side

Transfer the tofu to a plate that has a little water on the bottom. This will help keep the tofu moist while you continue making your stir fry

In the same, hot skillet, add in your red bell pepper and red onion. Let them cook for a few minutes so the onions start to get translucent

Add in the frozen veggies and let them heat through – will take about 5 minutes or so

Scoot the veggies to the side of the skillet, making a little “hole” in the middle. Pour in your stir fry sauce

Stir the sauce around to mix all your veggies. Since you’re keeping the skillet on higher heat, it’ll start kind of bubbling away – you want this!

After about another 5 minutes, add the tofu back into the skillet

Carefully stir it into your stir fry. You want to be careful so the tofu won’t break apart. You shouldn’t really have to worry about this too much with firm tofu, though. If you’re a fan of silken or soft tofu, you’ll want to be extra sure not to tear or mush it up while stirring!

Serve it over brown rice and…om nom nom nom!

Told ya it was easy!