Vietnamese pho with garlic sesame tofu (Photo: Emma Boyd)
Vietnamese pho with garlic sesame tofu (Photo: Emma Boyd)

FoodJuly 31, 2021

Recipe: Vietnamese pho with garlic sesame tofu

Vietnamese pho with garlic sesame tofu (Photo: Emma Boyd)
Vietnamese pho with garlic sesame tofu (Photo: Emma Boyd)

Hearty and comforting, this twist on a classic is jazzed up with garlicky tofu and beautiful brown field mushrooms. 

If there is one meal my kids would eat every night, this is it. Even if I up the ante and we venture into the big city to a little food alley where the best cheeseburgers are made, pho trumps everything else, every time! So it’s with this in mind that I wrote this recipe for Vietnamese pho. Not the traditional sort with strips of beef, but rather another kind, jazzed up with garlicky tofu and beautiful brown field mushrooms. The stock, however, is made the traditional way with beef bones and heady spices such as star anise, cinnamon and cardamom. Yes, I know the ingredients list is long, but the simplicity of the recipe and the delicious meal you’ll sit down to at the other end make it well worth it.


Serves 4

  • 50g ginger, sliced
  • 1 onion, halved, sliced
  • 1.25kg beef bones
  • ½ star anise
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 cloves
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoons fish sauce (if you don’t have it, tamari/soy sauce is fine)
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 300g tofu
  • 1 tablespoon tamari/soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 4 field mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups mung beans
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 300g rice noodles
  • ½ cup coriander leaves
  • ½ cup Vietnamese mint leaves
  • red chilli, finely sliced

Arrange the ginger and onion on a baking tray in a single layer and cook under a hot grill (turn it up full) until the pieces begin to char. Some pieces will char more quickly than others, so remove them with tongs as they turn and continue until all done. Set aside.

Place the beef bones in a large stock pot and bring a full kettle of water to the boil. Pour the boiling water over the bones to cover then boil for five minutes. This removes any impurities from the bones. Discard the water and rinse the bones and the pot before setting back on the stove. 

Cover the bones with 2.5 litres of water. Add the charred onion and ginger, star anise, cardamom pods, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, fish sauce and sugar. Bring to the boil then turn the heat down and gently simmer for 2 hours. 

Cut the tofu into cubes and put in a small bowl. Add the tamari, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the garlic and sesame seeds and toss gently to coat. Set aside for half an hour or so. Once ready to go, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan and fry the tofu over a medium-high heat until golden on all sides. 

Cook the rice noodles in a large pot of boiling water and once just cooked, add the mushroom slices and mung beans, turn off the heat and let sit for 30 seconds. Drain and divide among four bowls. Pour over the hot stock and top with the tofu, spring onions, herbs and chilli, then eat. 

Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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