The kitchen was well equipped - gleaming knives lay dormant on the magnetic strip next to the seasoned pots, pans, and plates.
To the left, endless jars of spices and dried herbs just begging to be used.
In front of me, a beautiful Soma and the newest addition to her kitchen - a Pacojet that “allows chefs to ‘micro-puree’ fresh, deep-frozen foods into ultra-light mousses, naturally fresh ice creams and sorbets or aromatic soups, sauces or fillings without thawing.” These aren't on Amazon, I already checked.
First, Daphne began working on the broth with Soma-filtered water and spices.
While the broth simmered, they began slicing tofu for the pho.
For the banh mi, bread was procured for $.85 each at a local Vietnamese restaurant. I was in charge of sauteing the two proteins; tofu and Gardein chick’n breasts. These meatless patties contained pea protein, soy protein and carrot fiber yet still looked and tasted like meat. It was my first time trying a meat substitute but not my last time.
After the bread was toasted, we began piling on toppings: a generous spread of mushroom pate and Vegenaise (instead of the traditional chicken/pork liver pate and fat-laden mayo), fresh cilantro, sliced onions, paper-thin ribbons of carrots pickled with Szechuan peppercorns for a numbing zing, and red mustard microgreens for a subtle kick.
For a stronger kick, a spoonful of chilies proved more than adequate.
After the banh mis were assembled, Deborah quietly ladled a glass with liquid from a 5 gallon pail. Huh?!?
Turns out it was the best apple juice I have ever had. Devoid of the artificial colors and cloying sweetness of the processed big brand juices, this crisp elixir was packed in Sunnyside WA and meant to be used by restaurants for flavoring dishes, not so much for drinking. Unfortunately, it’s not for retail sale.
The second beverage was prepared by Daphne with the help of a machete. After a few hacks, coconut juice sprayed all over us but the delicious liquid gold inside was worth it.
After the noodles were ready, we assembled everything into giant bowls and added toppings to customize our bowls: lime juice, basil, mint, sriracha, chili peppers, pickled carrots, hoisin, bean sprouts etc.
Every single element was delicious - crispy bread, strong mushroom flavor from pate, loved the sweetness of the carrots as well as the peppercorn heat. Both the tofu and Gardein were great meat substitutes, hearty and flavorful. The pho broth was seasoned well even without the use of beef bones.
Somehow…..somehow they both polished off their sandwiches and pho before me in under 18 minutes. Impressive feat considering the gigantic bowl was 2.5 portions. After sitting motionless and recovering from eating way too fast, we naturally began talking about dessert - mango sorbet.
I watched as Daphne took a canister of frozen mango, popped it into the Pacojet and pressed a button. Easier than using a microwave. The texture was still too chunky so we put it in for another round. After 30 seconds, what came out was the smoothest, creamiest sorbet ever, packed full of bold mango flavor.
So good, we didn’t bother getting bowls and just ate straight from the canister itself.
Many thanks for a fun and healthy meal to prepare with friends.
If you are interested in attending Daphne's upcoming Pho Parties, email me!
- Get a group of friends and throw your own Pho Party. All the ingredients are affordable and easily available in Chinatown or Whole Foods/Trader Joe's. Click here for Daphne's vegan-friendly recipe. It will result in a less fatty broth and decrease chances of food coma.
- Stick with the skinnier noodles. The flatter, broader noodles will soak up the broth too quickly, leaving you with a bowl of mush.
- Getting the right bread will make or break your banh mi. Don't make it from scratch - just get it from you local vietnamese restaurant. Remember to heat it up in the oven until crispy. It's all about the crunch.