For a while now, Berlin has been dubbed the vegan capital of Europe. After spending a few days in the city, I can attest to this very official title. I went to many great restaurants, cafes and places too cool to have a descriptive title but I’m not going to give you a list of places and names of dishes. Because one, there are approximately a million “vegan in Berlin” guides on the internet, most written by people who know the city much better than I do. And two, what’s the point of talking about food if you can't have it? Instead, this is a “what I ate in Berlin and how can you make dupes at home” guide.
We started off with breakfast like a functioning adult but I am not one; so for this, we’re jumping off to the morning (noon) after a night out in the city. Most will claim a rich brunch with some bloody marys is the best hangover food, but to me, brunch is for sunny afternoons.
In that rainy grey day in Berlin, I had one thing and one thing only on my mind that I was sure would make me feel better; and that was a warm, hearty pho. So I left my groggy self in the trusting hands of Berliner friends and they lead me to SOY. I had the Pho Chua which was exactly the right amount of sour and spicy for my upset stomach and dead brain cells.
In order to recreate that same perfect balance, I went to SOY’s website to see what was in theirs and googled around some vegan pho recipes I could take inspiration from.
However, in true Deniz fashion, I wasn’t about to spend hours on one dish or go to a supermarket for missing ingredients. So here’s my version: The Lazy Vegan’s What’s In My Kitchen Pho (It technically serves four but make it a personal pho and drink it all in one go for all I care).
For the Broth:
Look, I’m usually not into recipes that require separate ingredient sections but this is important. The broth is what makes a pho. Especially when there’s no chicken or beef taste to mask your lack of creativity.
- 8 cups of vegetable broth: This is our starting point, some people make their own but I don’t have the foresight to save my veggie scraps or patience to actually make it so I just buy the veggie bullion cubes. They work pretty well just put a little more than what the package says.
- 4 things of spring onions
1 Cinnamon stick (don’t worry you won’t taste it, I always worry but never happens)
4 cloves of garlic
1 cup of dried shiitake
Some fresh ginger. I grated a piece as big as my thumb.
Stuff to add to the broth:
Rice noodles (this is one ingredient you shouldn’t get too lazy about, you can use any type of rice noodles but if you use regular pasta you’re a cop)
- Tofu, seitan or whatever type of animal protein alternative thing you like to bite into
The How to:
Get all your broth ingredients except the cups veggie broth, shiitake mushrooms and spring onions on a pan and move them around until it starts smelling good. It happens pretty quickly, like a minute. When you smell it, add the broth, spring onions, and the shiitake. When it starts boiling, cover the pot, reduce the heat to low and go watch an episode of The Office for 30 minutes.
As you ponder about whether you will ever find your Jim (or Pam), add the tofu, bok choy and the mushrooms to your broth. You probably hate me if you like order but it doesn’t really matter how much of these things you put in. Just put as much as you want to eat and don’t go overboard and turn this into a pie. Wait another 5 minutes, have a glass of water since you’re probably dehydrated.
Add the rice noodles and wait until they’re ready to eat. Waiting time depends on what type you use. Just check on them too often until you run out of patience.
Put your pho in a massive bowl and add some sprouts, peanuts, and chilli flakes to your liking. Squeeze some lime on top and return to your spot on the couch to finish your 12th rerun of The Office.