Maple Coconut Granola

Granola is a contentious food. Associated with crunchy hippies and health nuts, it gets a bad reputation for tasting like grass. It’s also tends to be hard to chew, full of hard chunks of ancient raisins and fibrous grains. Who has patience for hard-to-eat food in the morning? Because of all this, people tend to forget that granola can be so full of delicious things that it tastes more like a dessert than a breakfast food. If you don’t believe me, try the Coconut Yogurt Parfait at Resonance Cafe. Thick, creamy yogurt with sweet almond granola and fruit preserves. They include it in their breakfast menu, but I order it as desert- usually to share, because it’s so filling after a meal. Resonance is my favourite cafe in the city- all vegan, delicious and affordable food, plus they double as a jazz club at night. You’ll definitely be hearing more about it this month.

Mile End from above. Crooked 3-story brick buildings, big trees, and a short stroll to the mountain

Mile End from above. Crooked 3-story brick buildings, big trees, and a short stroll to the mountain

During the day, I work as a cook, primarily personal chefing for a small family in Mile End, Montreal. Mile End is a bit like Sesame Street, in that everyone knows everyone else and it’s perfectly reasonable to take a stroll down the street just to stop by local businesses and friend’s houses to say hi on your way home from work. Resonance is in Mile End too, as is Boulangerie Guillaume. Guillaume serves as the baker for many businesses in Mile End, providing bread for Resonance and several small restos in the area. The bakers have a small wooden delivery trike, and early in the morning you can see them peddling along the bike path, basket stacked with row on row of fresh, warm baguette. The sandwich bread at Resonance is provided by Guillaume, perfect squares of thick-cut white bread, perfect for grilling on the panini press. Many mornings, Work Dad will walk over to Guillaume to pick up some fresh bread to serve with coconut-macadamia butter and guava jam. Other days, a quick bowl of cereal is on the menu.

Mmmm granola

Mmmm granola

That is where this granola comes in. Playing to the exotic tastes of my work family, I wanted something with toasted coconut to serve as a quick breakfast to go with fresh mangoes. Brimming with coconut, walnuts and dried fruit, this granola fits the bill perfectly. Large flake oats provide the base and hemp hearts and flax provide added omega 3 fatty acids. I solve the problem of tough, dried-up fruit by presoaking them in hot water before baking. This keeps them much more soft, easier for little mouths to manage. This is the kind of breakfast that will hold you over til lunch. This makes about 8-10 cups of granola, so make it once and you’ll be set for a couple months. I keep a mason jar out for daily use and refill it from an airtight bag int he freezer as needed. Serve it with coconut or almond milk, or maybe coconut yogurt and passion fruit jam.

Soak your dried fruit

Soak your dried fruit

Maple Coconut Granola

3 cups large flake oats
1.5 cups medium shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup hemp hearts
1/4 cup ground flax
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

1) Put on a kettle to boil with a couple cups of water and preheat the oven to 350.

2) Once boiled, pour the hot water over the dried fruits in a small bowl and leave to soak.

3) Toast the pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and walnuts on a cookie sheet in the hot oven until just barely toasted, about 5 minutes.

4) Stir the oats, coconut, hemp hearts and flax together with the cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl.

5) Drain the water off the dried fruit and add to the oatmeal mixture along with the toasted nuts and seeds and the maple syrup and coconut oil. Stir well.

6) Spread granola into two large baking pans. Bake in 10 minute intervals, taking the pans out to stir thoroughly between each interval, for 30-40 minutes, until golden. Cool and store in airtight containers in the freezer. Granola keeps in an airtight container on the shelf for 2 weeks.

Delicious grains

Delicious grains

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Vegan Mofo 2015: La Vie Montrealaise!

Vegan MoFo 2015 has the cutest banner this year!

Vegan MoFo 2015 has the cutest banner this year!

It’s that time of year again! I am not officially registered, mostly because I spent the last two months helping my four siblings and mother move out of my nana’s house in Toronto, moving myself back into my newly renovated work kitchen, and camping in the woods for 10 days with a gazillion people. I will still post along with MoFo at my usual sporadic pace anyway, just with fewer readers to disappoint!

My theme this year is La Vie Montrealaise. Explore with me all the sweet things that make life in Montreal truly fascinating, beautiful, and heartily weird. I have lived here for 4 years now, and I have a hard time imagining living anywhere else ever again. Follow along with me this month and maybe you’ll see why I’m so smitten.

The verdant hidden terrace of Cafe Santropol captures the quintessential Montreal aesthetic. Combining tiny spaces and small, tightly packed tables with enough height and low light and detail to create intimacy. The perfect place for sipping iced tea and enjoying lunch with someone you want to (re-)connect with. Or some solo reading or journaling. Or maybe grabbing take-out on your way to Tam Tams at Park Mont Royal next door.

The verdant hidden terrace of Cafe Santropol captures the quintessential Montreal aesthetic. Combining tiny spaces and small, tightly packed tables with enough height and low light and detail to create intimacy. The perfect place for sipping iced tea and enjoying lunch with someone you want to (re-)connect with. Or some solo reading or journaling. Or maybe grabbing take-out on your way to Tam Tams at Park Mont Royal next door.

How To Cook Over A Fire

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If you’ve never had to cook on a fire before beyond opening cans and skewering things, it may seem rather mysterious. Where do you put the pot? Can normal pots withstand the heat of the fire? How do you control the temperature? How do you prevent burns? Where do you keep all the ingredients? 

Here, I am going to break down my method for fire-side cookery. It may need to be adjusted, depending on what you’re cooking and what tools you have available to you. But I think this is a good, basic guide to get you started. 

Step One: Know how to build a proper cooking fire 

I tried to find you folks a basic guide to building a campfire, but I couldn’t find anything suitable online. All the articles were written by manly men talking about fire like it was some sort of erectile dysfunction aid, or else were written by people who have never tried to cook anything bigger than a marshmallow over an open flame before. You want a cooking fire to be long-burning, stable, mostly coals (instead of big flames) and relatively flat (if you’re going to be setting your pot on the coals, vs. hanging it from a tripod above the fire).

  1. To start, build a basic tee-pee fire in a ring of rocks- the rocks are your fireproof counter, where you place the hot pots when adding or removing ingredients.
  2. Once you have logs big enough for your hand to grasp around it completely burning to coal in your tee-pee, build a log-house around it of four proper fire logs.
  3. When the logs are coal on the interior side and the tee-pee is a smoldering pile of hot coals in the center (approximately one hour in good weather without too much wind), arrange the logs as pictured above, with three logs perpendicular to the biggest log, with the coal side facing up. This will be your cooking surface.
  4. The bottom, uncharred side of the log will heat up as the top, charred side is cooking your food, so you can rotate the logs as needed to keep consistent heat. Check your food often and do not leave the fire’s side as you cook. This is the only method I know of to prevent burning your food. 

If you haven’t any beautiful, evenly split logs to make your cooking surface, you can still make do. In the picture below, we only had access to a giant limb of dry cedar and smaller branches. So, we built a teepee and put the cedar log over, the center of it directly in the middle of the hottest part of the fire. This way, we could burn through the log, rather than chopping, and later combine the two halves as long-burning fuel for the fire. In the meantime, we were hungry, so I made a pot of camp soup by collapsing the teepee under the ceder limb and straddling a few small branches across the logs. They were very dry, but held up long enough for me to boil a whole pot of soup in a heavy cast iron pot before collapsing. 

You can see the big ceder branch is almost ready to be split, meanwhile the pot has a nice, sturdy place to rest as the soup boils

You can see the big ceder branch is almost ready to be split, meanwhile the pot has a nice, sturdy place to rest as the soup boils

Step Two: Have the right tools for the job

You really don’t need to buy fancy, special camping cookware. You’ll want to use all metal or silicone construction utensils with long enough handles for you to safely reach your food. You can use wooden spoons, like I do, but be careful not to leave them in the pots. Wood handles burn as well as any stick. I used 3 wooden spoons, a metal spatula, a pair of tongs, and a ladle all week, and that was enough- it likely will be for you, too. Aside from that, a couple chef’s knives, a paring knife, and and bottle openers, two cutting boards and three dish basins (soap-rinse-sterilize) were all we used. The only special “utensil” you’ll need is a heavy stick with a crook or knot you can use to pry under the handle of your pot to move it about. Even then, sufficiently strong oven mitts (such as welder’s gloves) will do the trick. A smaller, sturdy stick can be used to loop into the pot lid to lift it off.

Bear in mind that camp fires are really, really hot. Unless you are confident you can get within arms reach of your pot without burning your face or hair, play it safe and keep your pot near the edge of the fire, and simply turn it often for better heating. Trust me, you especially do not want to accidentally burn yourself when you’re off in the woods and out of cellphone reception. 

Cast iron is perfect for campfire cooking for a few reasons. First, it’s heavy enough to withstand the incredible heat of the fire without warping or scorching. Second, it insulates food from the irregular flame, distributing the heat evenly across the pot and deterring hot spots. Third, if you burn it or burn something in it or wish to get rid of the char marks on the outside of the pot, you can safely use steel wool and re-season the pot as needed. If you use something other than cast iron, be careful, and be sure it’s not dual-metal construction (such as a copper-bottomed aluminum pot), since campfires can easily break the bond between the metals leading to spilling accidents. I used a 10-inch cast iron dutch oven, and my grandmother’s old 8-inch fry pan. Additionally, I had a stock pot, smaller pot and nonstick griddle for the Coleman stove- you won’t need those if you’re cooking for fewer than 4 people and without the stove. The Dutch oven doubles as an oven, so you can bake in it by putting coals over and under the fire. I successfully made strawberry rhubarb crumble for 15 in this pot, but I want the 12-inch as my next purchase. You can actually stack Dutch ovens on top of each other, with layers of coal in between, for more efficient and controlled heating. How cool is that? I learned everything I know about Dutch ovens here, so take a gander before you buy. 

Lots of folks talk about cast iron like it’s sacred- Never soap it! Never let it touch water! Never cook tomatoes in cast iron! Seasoning is an onerous task that takes hours and hours and must be done by the light of the full moon with extra-extra-certified-virgin coconut oil mixed with one part baby tears! Sorry to tell you folks, but none of this is true. So long as you use your pan regularly- every day or two- and don’t leave it soaking in water for a day, there’s no special care required for cast iron. Seasoning means oil cooked onto a metal. You can do this by heating any oil in the pot- i.e. swirl that tablespoon of olive oil around the pan before adding your onions, just like you normally would. Ta-da. That’s it. You can wash it off after and reapply oil each time you cook. No biggie. Don’t let all the dire warnings and stories of rust-ringed counter tops deter you. Cast iron only demands one thing- that you use it. Even if you don’t, it’s a simple thing to scour it with steel wool and re-season it. I pulled my grandmother’s cast iron out from under her stove ten years ago, covered in rust and untouched for 40 years. Fifteen minutes of scrubbing and an hour in the oven slathered in canola oil, and they’re still the main pans I use.

Nana's cast iron, being put to good use!

Nana’s cast iron, being put to good use!

Step Three: Prepare your mise en place and set up your cooking nook

Find a good place to sit, level with your fire. You don’t want to be above the fire- heat rises, it’s hot up there. So, park yourself on the ground, perhaps with a sit-upon to protect from the cold. Wear long sleeves and pants in materials that don’t melt, such as denim or canvas, to protect from sparks and heat. Bring your chopped ingredients all on your cutting board next to you, separated into piles if not all being added at once. Bring any utensils you need, plus your oven mitts and pot/lid moving stick and a fire-poking stick. Lastly, bring any ingredients that you might want to add to taste as you cook, such as seasoning, oil, water, wine, herbs or spices. In the picture above, you can see I have Magic Vegan Bacon Grease, Earth Balance, tamari, red pepper paste, minced garlic in the plastic container (don’t forget spoons to get things out of jars!) and a glass of wine for me/the pot as needed. Once you are parked with everything you need at your disposal, cook away! Keep friends around the fire with you to keep you in good company, pass you anything you forgot, and poke the fire when needed. 

Step Four: Enjoy your meal

Bring your pots and pans out of the fire and onto flat rocks of the fire ring as they finish cooking, then when everything is done bring the whole lot to a safe, lit place away from the fire to serve. Take your time and enjoy your meal around the lovely warm coals, or else by the lake to watch the sunset. Be sure that everyone else takes care of the washing up and putting away leftovers. The biggest pot can be emptied of food, rinsed, filled with water and put on the stove to heat water for washing up as you eat. You can let the fire die out on it’s own, but always douse with water, stir well, and douse again before leaving it unattended. We use the waste washing water for this job. 

I hope this little guide is helpful and encourages some of you to try campfire cooking beyond the vegan marshmallow and veggie dog next time! Let me know if you have any tips for outdoor cookery. 

Being an Anglo Vegan in Montreal

The absolutely delicious Lola Rosa vegan poutine. Sweet potato and Yukon gold fries with a rich black bean/mushroom gravy and Daiya, garnished with green onion.  This is the small, which is what I recommend you order if you're going to get the chocolate/avocado/coconut tart for dessert, as I always do.

The absolutely delicious Lola Rosa vegan poutine. Sweet potato and Yukon gold fries with a rich black bean/mushroom gravy and Daiya, garnished with green onion. This is the small, which is what I recommend you order if you’re going to get the chocolate/avocado/coconut tart for dessert, as I always do.

When I came to Montreal three years ago, I learned very quickly that food is culture, and I couldn’t presume that the way I had grown used to handling eating out as a vegan would be the same. I fell in love with the city before I knew much about the local food scene, or the veg scene. The way of life here is slower, smaller, and more relaxed than other cities. Picnicking is a favourite weekend pastime, and they have a special term for going out for drinks before a late supper at home throughout the week. Biking makes more sense than driving almost every time here, and public pianos are set out at subway stations for citizens to entertain each other during their daily commute- and they do! My life here is idyllic- I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be. But as a vegan, it took some work to adapt to the local food climate. While Montreal has a few excellent vegan and vegetarian establishments, by and large, omni restaurants- especially of the pricier variety- refuse to cater to vegans on principal. It’s just not the Quebec way, I’m told; ordering off-menu is an insult to the chef, vegetarianism itself is insulting to the lard-laden palate of the Quebecois. While some of this can be accounted for by the difficulty of catering to vegans on the spot (since lard and butter is in eevrything, even the beans), not all of my experience can be accounted for by this. It was shocking to me to experience being literally turned away at the door of restaurants, since the chef refused to simply omit cheese from a menu item. Since I am not a native speaker of Quebecois and am conscious of the threat of English imperialism in the Quebec nation, I am not sure how much of what I have experienced was a result of nationalist indignation- perhaps the experience of native quebeckers is different. One can never tell if the ire of the barista is the result of asking for soy milk or asking for soy milk in English, or both.

By comparison when I lived in Edmonton, while there were very few vegetarian establishments, I had enjoyed the American-style hospitality that larger omni restaurants offered, including reduced prices for cutting meat out of menu items, and vegan meat and cheese substitutes for almost any dish. While sometimes I encountered hapless waiters and chefs who would offer me fish or chicken broth when I specified ‘vegan’ (I even had a pizzeria inform me that none of their pizzas could be made vegan, since there was flour and oil in the crusts), everyone was happy- even relieved- when I explained what veganism entailed and offered suggestions for vegan fare off their menus. Managers and chefs would invite me to come back on a quiet afternoon to review the menu and ingredient lists with them to help make their establishments more accommodating to vegans. I couldn’t ask for a more accommodating, friendly dining experience.

In other ways, too, Edmonton values seemed more open and commensurate with vegan values. They have one of the best (if not the best) no-kill animal shelters in the world, and it’s entirely funded by the community operating in harmony out of the same building complex as the city animal control service. Meanwhile in Montreal, city animal services are entirely privatized, sometimes run by for-profit companies who have a horrific track record of killing first and answering questions later. Public outrage at lost family pets being killed by unqualified personnel without being scanned for microchips or giving owners an opportunity to retrieve them first has inspired some interest in improving the state of things. However, by and large, Quebec remains a very dismal place for animals.

As an outsider, of a sort (I had two bilingual grandparents, one of whom was Quebecois) I realize that my capacity as an advocate for veganism is reduced here. First, because of the linguistic barrier- my French is barely passable. Second, because in an environment where the francophone majority militantly protects a culture threatened by English (and by extension, anglophones themselves), any attempts to promote veganism are seen as yet another presumptuous and imperialistic attack on Quebecois values and culture by les Anglais. As such, I just avoid eating out except at expressly vegetarian-friendly establishments. However, there is some evidence that the situation here in Montreal is improving. A few of the newer eateries that have popped up in the Mile End area have veg options, and new veg establishments are opening up or expanding regularly. I have hope for this little city that I love, and hope for the millions of animals that are farmed for their fur, flesh, secretions, and entertainment value in Quebec.

With that heavy post, here are some of my ridiculously adorable (and available for adoption) foster kittens.

Puff, Norbert and Toothless

Puff, Norbert and Toothless

Vegan MoFo 2014 – The Outdoor Cookery Edition

vegan mofo 2014

Today we start another month of writing about vegan food! Today is also my first day back from 9 days of camping in the woods with 20 people, no oven, no microwave, and no dishwasher. The coolers are still packed (why did I buy all that salad?), I’m eating cold leftover vegan mac and cheese for dinner, and there’s a giant bag of empties waiting to be returned to the depanneur (Quebecois for convenience store). Everything, including me, still smells like campfires. The cats are giving everything the cursory sniff-down and threatening to never let us out of sight again.  

Over the next month I’ll be sharing my outdoor cooking adventures with you, with a substantial dose of nostalgia and recipes on the side. If you ever went on family camping trips or were a member of Guides or Scouts (I was both), you’ll probably get a kick out of these veganized versions of camping favourites. If not, hopefully the methods and recipes will inspire you on your next foray into the wilderness (or your local urban park). Mixed in with the camping stories will be the usual collection of random recipes from work, pictures of foster kittens, and insight into la vie Montrealaise. 

Ratatouille and fried portobellos in the making

Ratatouille and fried portobellos in the making

Taking in strays/Kimchi part 1

It’s been a whole week since I’ve written, and I feel pretty crappy about it. But I have the best excuses. Plus, I have several legitimately exciting food stories to share over the next few days, so that makes up for some of it, right? Well, you be the judge,

The first reason I was away last week is that we took in a stray kitten. If you’ve ever done this before, you know how those adorable fluffballs can just eat up any spare time you might have. This little one was part of a feral colony, but decided she wanted to adventure off on her own and consort with humans. She cried and cried outside my guy’s back door til we were finally able to trap her and get her spayed and dewormed and all those good things. She’d 4.5 months old and doesn’t know how to do anything other than snuggle and hide. But that’s ok. The rest will come with time.

World, meet Betty Boop (Boop for short, or sometimes Bloop, or McBlooperson)

World, meet Betty Boop (Boop for short, or sometimes Bloop, or McBlooperson)

The second reason I’ve been busy is that I have taken in a stray tourist from Japan! A friend of a friend’s lodging arrangements fell through just a couple of days before she was scheduled to fly to Montreal. Rather than cancel her trip, I gave her my room and am staying with my guy for the next couple of weeks. Needless to say, the sudden nature of this made things a bit hectic for a few days there- lots of scrubbing and packing and laundering happened. But now Tomoko is happily doing her thing out of my tiny little Plateau pad, and life is somewhat returned to normal.

In the midst of all this upheaval, I have managed to find some time for cooking, too. Mostly because if I didn’t, I’d go mad. Last Sunday, I had a fermenting/pickling day with a few lovely friends. We made kimchi and dill pickles. I won’t share all the deets until I get to taste the final product, but I’ll woo you with some pictures in the meantime.

Ladies at work

Ladies at work

It was actually a lot of fun, putting together all the little jars and stirring up big bowls of veggies with chili sauce for the kimchi. It would have been more fun had we made it through the day without one of us cutting herself and another squirting ginger juice in her eyes (that was me!) but, you know. The hostess graciously provided us with wine and baguette, which helped immensely.

Dividing the dill and garlic for the jars

The little countertop that could! Dividing the dill and garlic for the jars, grating turnip, carrots and ginger for the kimchi.

Pretty little jars all in a row, ready for their brine.

Pretty little jars all in a row, ready for their brine. Can’t forget the wine. Not for the pickles, for the pickle-makers.

I will report back with the finished results in a couple of weeks. I hope it will be delicious. I am sure it will be.

Pho/Air-boat street food/etc.

Big bowl for pho for big Bear, little bowl of pho for little kitten.

Big bowl for pho for big Bear, little bowl of pho for little kitten.

When I was in my undergrad, I took a bunch of courses in the evening. There were two reasons for this, mainly that I refused to take morning classes, but also because the part-time studies department’s Philosophy classes tended to be more interesting. In those cool in-between months after the term started but before Winter came, I often failed to dress appropriately for the weather and would find myself shivering alone in the corridors waiting for evening classes to begin while sometimes falling asleep over my readings. It was at this time that I would get one of two things: a coffee and a chocolate chip oatmeal muffin from the only cafe that remained open for the night students, or a steaming-hot Styrofoam bowl of Pho from the little Asian vendor in the cafeteria.

I always asked for the vegetarian Pho, even before I was vegan, because it seemed like a much better deal- you got so many veggies! Tender-crisp bok choy, slivers of nappa cabbage, whole petals of oyster mushrooms, sprouts, carrots, peppers, and tofu, all in a fragrant broth with warming anise, clove, and black pepper. The whole thing was topped with a mountain of Thai basil and cilantro, and finally a wedge of lime. It was more expensive than the coffee and muffin, and while it had no chocolate in it, it was still the superior choice.

There is some controversy over whether Pho is related to pot-au-feu, the dish common to the French invaders of Vietnam. Westerners like to think of Pho as a fusion food. I think it’s more likely that the French simply assumed that their culture was the epitome of Culture, and thus interpreted the native Vietnamese dish in the only way their fragile egos could manage- as an approximation of the more familiar pot-au-feu. There is something decidedly un-French about traditional Pho as well, namely the way it was vended. No white linen table cloths, wine, or candles. Just hot street food, prepared with taste, nourishment, and efficiency in mind.

Pho was originally sold at dawn and dusk by roaming street vendors, who shouldered mobile kitchens on carrying poles (gánh phở). From the pole hung two wooden cabinets, one housing a cauldron over a wood fire, the other storing noodles, spices, cookware, and space to prepare a bowl of pho. Pho vendors kept their heads warm with distinctive, disheveled felt hats called mũ phở. (thank you Wikipedia)

I wonder if the Chinese food boat scene from The Fifth Element is at all related to the history of Pho? Some days, especially when it’s cold, I wish for certain conveniences out of sci fi like travelling Pho air-boats or teleportation.

It may be too early for you folks south of the border to be thinking of hot soups as an ideal comfort food, but here in the Great White North the nights have been getting quite chilly, and ominously gray skies have brought portents of Autumn and frost. Unless you have a magical Pho Boat coming your way, this recipe is the best thing to keep the chill out.

Come here, boat of tasty! I want all your deliciousness! But you can leave the terrible ethnic stereotypes behind...

Come here, boat of tasty! I want all your deliciousness! But you can leave the terrible ethnic stereotypes behind…

It took me a while to figure out how to make a good vegan Pho, and the trick is to take your time to treat the veggies right, and not worry too much about being traditional. This is your Pho, make it how you like it.

  1. Take a couple big yellow onions, peel the outer layer and halve them lengthwise. Cut a 5-inch stem of ginger root lengthwise. Blacken the outer layer both over a flame (broiler/element/blowtorch). Rinse away any flakes of char and set aside.
  2. Roughly chop five large, peeled carrots, and a couple cups of mushroom stems (any kind, preferably belonging to the caps you’ll use in the soup) and roast them in a pot with coconut oil until beginning to brown. This will take a bit of time, but keep an eye on it and have a beer to keep you occupied.
  3. Add to the carrots and mushrooms a couple of star anise, a couple of whole cloves, a 4-inch stick of cinnamon, a tablespoon of coriander seeds, a three-inch strip of kombu and several black peppercorns. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until fragrant, stirring constantly. Add the onion and ginger, then about 5-6 cups of low- or no-salt mushroom or vegetable broth- enough to cover with an inch or two to spare.
  4. Simmer until reduced by 1/3, then add a tablespoon or two of good tamari and/or vegan fish sauce. Strain well through a fine sieve. This broth can be kept in the fridge or frozen until ready to use.
  5. Cook medium flat rice noodles til tender. Add to big bowls of freshly-boiled broth.
  6. Prepare vegetables. Firm tofu, mixed fresh or dried/re-hydrated mushroom caps, tender greens, snow peas and peppers can be sauteed ever so lightly, then divided among individual bowls.
  7. Toppings should be served on the side, to be added with chopsticks to the bowls by diners. Scallions and red chilies finely sliced on the bias, whole cilantro and Thai basil leaves, wedges of lime and bean sprouts. Vegetarian hoisin, chili-garlic paste/sriracha, and seasoned rice vinegar should be offered as well.

To Eat: Pile on the herbs, sauces, etc. and barely stir them into the piping-hot broth. It will wilt the leaves, while maintaining some of their texture and providing lovely contrast between the spicy/sour/cool/herbal notes of the garnish and the warm/earthy/sweet/savoury notes of the soup.

Bon appetit!