Pho chay is a great noodle soup option for those who don’t eat meat. Feel free to add other veggies to the broth if you like, but root vegetables and cabbage tend to result in a more rounded flavour.






Skill level

Average: 4.1 (8 votes)


  • 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) fresh pho noodles (see Note)
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) organic tofu, cut 2 cm (¾ in) cubes
  • 200 g (7 oz) enoki mushrooms, separated into clumps
  • 200 g (7 oz) oyster mushrooms
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch coriander (cilantro), leaves picked


  • 2 carrots
  • 1 small wombok (Chinese cabbage)
  • ½ white cabbage
  • 250 g (9 oz) ginger, unpeeled
  • 1 onion, unpeeled
  • 1 garlic bulb, unpeeled, halved
  • 4 star anise
  • 1 black cardamom pod
  • 1 small stick cassia bark
  • 50 g (1 ¾ oz) coriander seeds
  • 3 tbsp salt, to taste
  • 1 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar, to taste


  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) bean sprouts
  • 1 bunch Thai basil
  • 5 bird’s eye chillies, sliced
  • 3 lemons, cut into wedges
  • hoi sin sauce

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


1. To make the broth, place the carrots, wombok and cabbage in a 10 litre (21/2 gallon) stockpot and cover with water to nearly the top of the pot. Place over high heat, bring to the boil and skim off any scum that rises to the surface. Reduce to a simmer.

2. Meanwhile, roast the ginger, onion and garlic over a gas stovetop or barbecue flame, or under the grill (broiler) until the skins are blistered and aromatic. Rinse off any burnt bits and add, whole, to the broth.

3. Toast the star anise, cardamom pod, cassia bark and coriander seeds in a dry frying pan over medium heat until fragrant. Tie the spices in a square of muslin (cheesecloth) and drop it into the broth. Continue to simmer the broth over medium heat for 5–6 hours until it has reduced by 20–30 per cent. Strain the broth into a clean saucepan and season with the salt and sugar. Return the broth to a simmer. Discard the solids.

4. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Blanch individual portions (see note) of the pho noodles (about 120 g–150 g/4 oz–5½ oz per person) for 10 seconds, then transfer to large noodle bowls. Evenly divide the tofu and mushrooms among the bowls, pour over the hot broth and top with the onion, spring onion and coriander.

5. Place the accompaniments on a serving platter and place in the centre of the table. Serve the pho and invite guests to season and flavour their own dish.



Fresh pho noodles can be purchased from most Asian supermarkets. If you are unable to find them, you can also use dried thin rice stick noodles (sometimes referred to as pad thai noodles). Cook according to the packet instructions, then drain and divide among noodle bowls.

It’s best to use an Asian noodle-blanching basket to cook the noodles. These can be purchased from Asian kitchen supply stores or online.


Recipe from Street Food Vietnam by Jerry Mai, Smith Street Books, RRP $39.99