The Sea Salt

Southern California Surfing Food

Vegetarian Pho

1 Comment

This recipe helped me get an A on my Asian Cuisine Final last semester.

Last semester I fell in love with my Asian Cuisine class on Tuesday nights. My professor was the cutest little Thai woman you will ever meet, and I shared a table with a wonderful guy who made the most amazing presentations with his dishes.

Every week we focused on a different cuisine (Chinese, Japanese, Middle Eastern, etc…), but my favorite by far was the class on Vietnamese food. We learned how to make traditional Vietnamese pho, but with big meaty beef bones. Since I’m so over beef, I decided to tweak the recipe and focus on a broth made with Shitake mushrooms.

The broth in this pho (and most phos) is what really makes it special. The mushrooms are simmered with charred onions, ginger and garlic, and the star anise and coriander makes for a complex, meaty soup.

I love pho because it has a sweet, salty, interesting taste. I don’t think that it really needs meat to help with the flavor, and I actually prefer the taste of a mushroom broth to a beef one.

Pho sure!

Vegetarian Pho


  • 1 large yellow or white onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 peeled garlic cloves
  • 4 pieces of peeled ginger, about 1.5 inches each
  • 5 cloves
  • 1-2 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp whole coriander (or bunch of cilantro stems)
  • 2-3 star anise (whole)
  • 7 oz whole, fresh shitake mushrooms
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt (or more, to taste) or a bouillon cube
  • Pour Broth over:
    • cooked rice noodles
    • cilantro
    • green onions
    • thinly sliced jalapeños
    • white onion (thinly sliced and set in ice cold water for about 15 mins)
    • Sriracha


  1. Preheat broiler..
  2. Spread onion, garlic and ginger on a sheet pan and broil until fairly charred (see picture).
  3. In a heavy large stockpot, heat oil over medium heat and add coriander, star anise and mushrooms.
  4. Stir to combine and add charred onions, garlic and ginger.
  5. Stirring frequently over medium heat, cook for about 5-7 minutes. Mushrooms should begin to soften.
  6. Add 8 cups water, fish sauce and sugar. Stir.
  7. Bring to a boil and then cover, and let simmer for 90 minutes- 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  8. Using a fine strainer, strain broth into another pot, (or bowl, and then transfer back to the original pot).
  9. Return to low boil and add salt or bouillon cube.
  10. If desired, chop up mushrooms used for the broth, and add back in to the soup.
  11. Ladle over rice noodles, and add desired toppings.

Vegetarian Pho

Vegetarian Pho

Vegetarian Pho Vegetarian Pho


Author: The SEA SALT

Cooking and surfing in Southern California

One thought on “Vegetarian Pho

  1. if ever i needed a course on anything food-related, it’s asian cuisine. i’ve never even had pho! looks scrumptious, though–very satisfying and comforting!

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