Pho and Mock Beef

Around two months ago, I tried this seitan beef recipe from Vegan Dad's blog to use in a stir fry and a salad.  It was really quite tasty, and had a great texture and flavour.  I modified it a bit, cutting out the oil, and I dry-fried them instead of using oil.  It was so wierd how they almost smelled like real beef when they were cooking!  I never would have guessed that something like that was possible with non-meat ingredients.  Incredible recipe, Vegan Dad!  Only, the first time I made them, the pieces seemed pathetically small after frying, so I researched setian a bit more (it was my first time working with the stuff).  It seems that most recipies call for boiling the setian in broth, so I decided to try that.  It was quite... cool.. to see how much bigger the pieces got,  and how much of the water they absorbed.  So, if you are unframiliar with setian and are more than slightly dismayed when you see how small the pieces are, never fear.  Just boil it!

And now about the Pho.  When I was visiting my aunt and uncle, my aunt highly recommended trying this soup.  She told me that it was Vietnamese, and was usually made with beef, but it could be made vegetarian.  Well, of course I had to eventually give it a shot, and yesterday was the day.  I thought there were quite a few interesting ingredients in the few recipes that I looked at, and the one I finally settled on looked like it was authentic enough, without having to chase all over for ingredients in bags that neither M nor I can read.  The one thing, though, that we couldn't find at that certain store was anise, which made me really mad because I had seen it before.  Murphy's law, I guess. 
But the soup was quite fun to make, and rather easy too for the amount that it made.  I used official pho noodles, of course, which seemed rather bland until I added chili garlic sauce to my serving of the soup- M thought they tasted just fine as is.  The broth was rather interesting I though, especially with the cinnamon stick and the five spice powder.  It was sweet, but it fit just right with the soup.  Most certainly, it was not a heavy broth at all, and very clear.  And the veggies were, of course, great, as was the beef..!  This is a very unique soup, and unlike anything that I have ever had before.  I really should try more of this Vietnamese stuff... you know?

Mock Beef

Adapted from Vegan Dad

Makes enough for two recipes, I guess

1/4 cup TVP (textured vegetable protien)
2 tbsp vegetarian stir fry sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp bbq sauce sauce
1 tbsp vegan worcestershire sauce, or something similar
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
3/4 cup vital wheat gluten
2 tbsp water (if needed)

Mix all the wet ingredients with the TVP and let sit for five minutes or so.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until everything hold together, adding water as needed.  Roll the dough into several long snakes, as thin as possible, and cut into pieces.  Keep in mind that they will double in size when boiled.
Heat a large frying pan coated with nonstick spray over medium heat.  Saute the beef for 5 minutes or so, until browned. 
Boil a large pot of broth, and then add the beef and let simmer for about an hour.  Remove from broth.  They can be frozen, but I don't know how long- atleast a couple weeks, probably.
The broth can still be used later, it tastes really good!

Vegetarian Pho

Serves 6-8

Adapted from Gastronomy

• 7 oz flat rice noodles
• 1 1 inch piece ginger
• 1 stick cinnamon
• 3 vegetable bouillon cubes
• 8 cups water
• 1 ½ tablespoons Chinese five spice
• ¼ cup soy sauce
• 1 ½ tbsp sugar
• 1/2 recipe mock beef
• 1 leek, top tough part removed
• 1 onion, chopped rather large
• 1 ½ cups bean sprouts
• 8 oz. mushrooms (any variety, but something with a heavy flavor would work best like king oyster or shiitake)
• Extra soy sauce
• Chili garlic sauce
• ½ tsp Black pepper
• Limes, cilantro, and/or basil, to serve

Cook the rice noodles in boiling water for 1 1/2 minutes, remove from heat, and let soak for 45 minutes or more, until they stop expanding.
Bring the 8 cups water to a boil in a large soup pot.  Add the ginger, cinnamon, bullion, five spice powder, soy sauce, and sugar.  Stir to dissolve the bullion cubes, and simmer for atleast 45 minutes, the longer the better.  When ready to use, remove ginger and cinnamon.
Heat a wok over high heat.  Add a few tablespoons of water, and saute the onion and leeks for 5 minutes, adding water as needed.  Add the mushrooms, saute for 2 more minutes, then add the bean sprouts and pepper.  Cook until all veggies are tender, about 3 more minutes.  Then add the beef, and stir.
To serve, place some noodles in the bottom of a large bowl.  Top with the veggie mixture, and then ladle the broth over everything.  Add extra soy sauce and chili garlic sauce to taste, and garnish with basil, limes, and/or cilantro.

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