Thanks to Choosing Raw’s wonderful Weekend Reading Series each week, I find new inspiration for eating and thought that I otherwise wouldn’t come across. This strategy in a bowl I’ve come up with creates an almost raw version of this beautiful Raw Pho on Rawmazing. Instead of one way to approach this version, I’m going to give you options to choose from, all stemming from the inspiration I got from the Rawmazing recipe. But first I have to show you a shot of my home-sprouted mung beans in progress:
The first thing I put them in besides my mouth was my latest version of one of these bowls. They are smaller than the ones you buy in the store, but they were oh so sweet and delicious. Of course you don’t need to do this yourself to make one of these bowls, but if you have the will to experiment and the patience to rinse and drain twice a day, it’s a kick to grow your own.
Almost Raw Vegan Pho Bowl
The Rawmazing recipe calls for equal portions of water and dried shitake mushrooms. The water is not boiled, and the mushrooms are left to sit in it for at least 6 hours.
The first time I did this I used about 4 cups of dried shitake mushrooms to 4 cups of water. I boiled the water in the tea kettle first and poured it over the mushrooms. I added a piece of star anise, listed as an option in the Rawmazing recipe, and I highly recommend it. I also added a slice of fresh ginger. I recommend that too.
The caveats to this version: Dried shitake mushrooms, or shitake mushrooms in general, are pricey, unless you are lucky enough to have a log in your yard with some growing out of it, like a dear friend of mine might still have. I was lucky enough to have been given a HUGE container of them by my son, from when I was in Portland last May, and we went on an adventure to the big Asian Grocery store there called Fubon.
The bright side: the broth was delicious. Absolutely. But I should have made more. I only had enough for one bowl, with a little tiny bit left over. I should have followed the recipe and used 6 cups. But I was being a cheapskate.
A dried mushroom caveat: The Rawmazing recipe directs us to slice up the soaked mushrooms and eat in the Pho that way. They were delicious, I admit, but, shall we say, produced more “wind” afterwards than I would have preferred. So next time I tried this:
I soaked 2 cups of dried shitakes in 4 cups of water boiled in the tea kettle, along with the star anise, the ginger slice and a small piece of kombu seaweed. Instead of using the dired shitakes in the bowl, I sauted some button mushrooms and added those. The broth was not quite as dark and knock down drag out delicious, but it was still flavorful.
Another fast option: find a vegan mushroom broth that’s not too high in sodium. heat it up a little with ginger and star anise if you like.
Or another not so fast option: Make a version of Everything But the Kitchen Sink Broth, using dried mushrooms as a prominent ingredient. I just did this with dried mushrooms I gathered last year, star anise, ginger and a little garlic. This might be my favorite version. I left all the veggies raw except for the sweet potato, and just ladled the warm broth and mushrooms out of it over everything, then added some toppings.
Or: See how Ellen does it on her blog, Vegan Day to Day, in this excellent low fat Vegan Pho recipe.
To fill the bowl:
sugar snap peas
mung bean sprouts
lightly cooked veggies (and even fruit):
asparagus spears, cut into pieces (can leave raw if you want)
carrots (can leave raw if you want)
cooked sweet potato (in cubes)
garnishes (use any or all):
Thai Sweet Red Chili Sauce
grated garlic or garlic granules
grated fresh ginger
lime juice/lime zest
paste made with 1 tsp of miso, 1/4 tsp of tamarind paste and 1tbs of broth. mix together and drizzle on top of the full bowl
How I Assemble:
Put mung bean sprouts, sugar snap peas and torn fresh basil in a large soup bowl.
Saute mushrooms either dry or in a little bit of coconut aminos and some kind of sweetener mixed together (I used my homemade date paste a la Chef AJ–both are optional but nice.)
After mushrooms have been cooking a few minutes and have exuded their juices, add some asparagus spears sliced on the diagonal and saute a couple more minutes or less, just until they turn bright green. If you’re using carrots, you can add them in at the same time as the asparagus. (You actually can leave both the asparagus and the carrots raw, along with the bean sprouts, pea pods and basil, if you want.) Add some cubed cooked sweet potato and stir for another minute.
Put the lightly cooked veggies on top of the raw bean sprouts and sugar snap peas in the soup bowl. Ladle some warm broth over them. Garnish with a swirl of Red Thai Chili Sauce and any or all of the following: fresh grated ginger, grated garlic or garlic granules, green onions, lime juice and/or lime zest, the miso-tamarind past mentioned above, and extra coconut aminos, if desired.
Or: if using a mushroom version of Everything But the Kitchen Sink Broth, you leave all the veggies but the sweet potato raw. Put them in your bowl along with warm cubed sweet potato and ladle the broth with simmered mushrooms in it over everything, then top with desired garnishes.
If you don’t want to fool with broth, this Pho-style strategy can also be turned into a quick stir fry, with any vegetables you’d like to use. To keep the mung bean sprouts crispy but warm, add them at the last minute, cover the skillet and then turn the heat off (or take off the burner if your stove is electric) and let it sit covered for maybe another minute at the most.
This Almost Raw Pho Bowl strategy has fed me off and on through the last few weeks of big decisions and paperwork and preparations for all the meetings I had this week (an important one every day). The last one was a meeting of the Moscow Historic Preservation Commission, where I am pleased to say I learned the commission would be happy to write a letter of support to the Planning and Zoning Commission on the historic value of my house, as its intact lot and structure is a perfect example of the first subdivision in Moscow. They were especially charmed by the horse hitch ring I photographed, which is still in the curb out in front of my house:
I, too, have always been charmed by the presence of this hitch. When I look at it, time collapses and the span of the turn of two centuries my house has stood fills me with awe and gratitude. This little hitch is the thing that inspired me to paint Plein Air Moscow last year. I realized I only had to fall out of my front door to paint an historic subject, and so early one September morning when the light was on it, I took my paints and brushes out to the front curb and painted this version:
It looks like this magical old ring is now the portal into a bright future, both for my 117 year old blue house, and me in my “new” house northeast of it, when that day comes in June. I’m happy to have such a hitch in my “get-along,” helping me create the best for all of us. I believe places have souls, just like we do. Perhaps it is simply the sum of all our memories and all the seasons that have passed through them, as the world spins on its axis year after year. No matter the exact matter of the soul of a place, it’s always best to leave one better than I found it, even in some small way. I feel very happy for my part in being able to do that for my little blue house on Asbury Street, and the horse hitch in front of it. Both remind me of slower times and give me hope for what is yet to arrive.