Not sure if you’ve noticed, but it’s almost April. Can I get a WTF? (Thanks.) Seriously, when did that happen? Where did March go? Or February for that matter? Weren’t we just polishing off Spritz sugar cookies from the holidays a couple of weeks ago? Oh, just me then? They freeze well…
As much as I typically love the coming of spring, I’ve got to admit I’m a little sad to part ways with winter this year. First of all, we didn’t really see much of it. A little rain here, some flurries there. We tried our darndest to make the most of it, Chris and I, but I guess there’s a part of me — a tiny little scarlet & gray-clad munchkin within — that misses the true winters we once loathed in OH. Yeah, they were gray — more ice than snow, really — and traffic was abysmal and shoveling snow was about as fun as…it sounds. But on a clear night, with a fresh blanket of snow reflecting the brilliant glow of a full moon, the stillness screaming silence, it’s a winter worth longing for.
This is a recipe that honors that winter as we bid it fond farewell in welcome of spring. It’s simple, to be sure, coming together in a swift 15 minutes and made up of no more than pantry and fridge staples. And while I’ve boldly called it pho, I won’t pretend that it’s the aromatic, slow-simmered artistry found within the four walls of your favorite noodle house. It is, more appropriately, a humble imitator (phaux?) — yet it’s satisfying all the same when the craving strikes for a steaming bowl of well-accessorized noodle soup.
Speaking of accessories, let’s do a quick roll-call:
– Crisp, pan-seared salt & pepper tofu? Here.
– Pleasingly greasy fried onions? Here.
– Savory furikake? Everyone’s favorite Rooster’d hot sauce? Here and here.
– And then there’s that golden-yolked, lacey-edged, perfectly popular egg. A cocky muther, I’m telling you, but absolutely essential.
It’s true, I’d take spring over winter any day, but there’s something to be said for the warmth and satisfaction that is so uniquely communicated by foods of the latter. I mean, I’ll totally be eating this soup all year round because, well, it’s delicious, but you get what I mean.
It’s…wait for it: phonomenal.
- ½ yellow onion, very thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 star anise (or ½ tsp fennel seed)
- 1 T light cooking oil, divided
- 2 cups beef stock (or 2 cups water prepared with 2 tsp Better Than Bouillon)
- hoisin & sriracha sauces, to taste (about 1 tsp each, plus extra for serving)
- 3-4 oz dry bun tuoi (rice vermicelli)
- 7 oz firm tofu (about half brick), drained and thinly sliced into 12 pieces
- 2 large eggs
- salt and pepper
- canned crispy fried onions (such as French's or Trader Joe's)
- furikake (Japanese nori seasoning) for serving, available at most Asian markets or online
- Liberally salt and pepper sliced tofu. In a nonstick griddle or frypan, heat ½ T oil until very hot. Add tofu slices in a single layer and fry until golden brown and they release easily from the pan, about 1-2 mins. Flip and repeat on second side. Reserve.
- In same hot pan, fry eggs to desired doneness. (I like mine with a set white and runny, sunny-side up yolk, so I throw a lid over the pan. Technically, I think this becomes a "basted" rather than a fried egg. Does it matter?)
- Meanwhile, heat remaining ½ T oil in a medium soup pot or dutch oven. Add onion, garlic and anise or fennel and saute briefly until onions begin to soften. Add stock, sriracha and hoisin and bring to a boil.
- While soup heats, prepare noodles according to package instructions. Do not overcook. Divide noodles among bowls.
- Divide soup among bowls, pouring over noodles. Top with seared tofu, fried eggs, onions, furikake and sriracha to taste. Slurp to your heart's content!
Good news vegetarians: Make this with veggie stock (something rich with ginger and lemongrass, perhaps), and you're looking at a comforting meal that any herbivore would be proud to call suppah.
OH! before you go…
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