pho noodle salad

Reprinted with permission from Neighborhood, by Hetty McKinnon (Roost Books, 2017). Don’t skip charring the onions and ginger, which lends a signature smoky umami to the broth.


  • for the pho dressing:
  • 2 onions, peeled and halved
  • 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and halved lengthways
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 white peppercorns
  • 3 star anise
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 6 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock, or water
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (optional; my addition)
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (optional; my addition)
  • 6 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • for the salad:
  • ¾ pound thick dried rice noodles
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound broccolini, trimmed and sliced diagonally into 1 inch pieces
  • ¼ pound Napa cabbage, finely sliced
  • 7 ounces five-spice tofu, finely sliced into thin strips (or more, if desired)
  • ½ pound bean sprouts
  • 1 cup Asian herb leaves (Thai basil, cilantro, green onion, Vietnamese mint, or perilla)
  • 1 long red chili, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • Sea salt and white pepper


  1. To make the dressing, place the onions and ginger pieces directly on the flame of a gas stovetop or under a very hot grill (or broiler) until they are slightly blackened all over. Heat a large saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the cinnamon, peppercorns, star anise, cloves, and coriander seeds and toast, stirring to prevent burning, for 30 seconds until aromatic. Add the stock, fish sauce, tamari or soy sauce, sugar, carrots, mushrooms, charred onion, and ginger to the pan and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 60–80 minutes until reduced by a third. Strain. Season with salt to taste and whisk in the olive oil.
  2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil, add the rice noodles and cook for 6–8 minutes until tender. Drain and refresh under cold running water.
  3. In a frying pan, add the olive oil and pan-fry the broccolini for about 5 minutes, until just tender and lightly charred. (I added a bit of salt and pepper here.)
  4. Combine the noodles, cabbage, broccolini, tofu, bean sprouts, and herbs and pour over some of the dressing. Mix together well, making sure everything is coated in the dressing and season with salt and white pepper. Serve topped with chopped chili (if you like) and lime wedges.


Five-spice tofu is a delicious, dried tofu that is savory and chewier than what you typically find. Find it in a Chinese supermarket, or look for “baked tofu” in some specialty grocery stores. I found baked tofu at Sprouts.

If you aren’t vegetarian, a little shredded chicken would go perfectly in this, too.