pho real

"It would have to be something Vietnamese, because my mom's vietnamese and I can't live without Vietnamese food. It would probably be vegetarian Pho. And I don't do dairy but I'm a huge ice cream fan. I'd have to have ice cream before I went!"

Maggie Q - Actor

A Combo To Die For

When she's not kicking ass and taking names on the screen (Nikita, Divergent, Stalker...), Maggie is an outspoken supporter of animal rights and vegetarianism. We wanted to stay true to her values by creating a rich, mushroom based pho coupled with a delicious, dairy free gelato.

The god of food porn, Anthony Bourdain, once called it his death row meal (albeit he changes this often). Pho has taken on a cult-like following over the past few decades in the United States, and its worldwide popularity continues to grow. While Tony might balk at the idea of a meatless version of the Vietnamese classic, we found the deep, earthy flavors of the shiitakes perfectly match the herbs and spices in the complex broth.

We went through several iterations of different recipes before settling on one that we were happy with. This version is an adaptation of David Tanis' meaty recipe. Tanis is best known as the ex-head chef of Chez Panisse, an award winning restaurant in Berkeley that prides itself on using locally fresh, organic ingredients in its cooking. Tanis has a number of mouth-watering cookbooks that showcases how coupling the best ingredients with simple techniques can yield surprisingly rich and succulent flavors. In particular, we recommend the book, Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys, where we found our inspiration for today's recipe. [Note: The link provided is an affiliate link to Amazon. If you want to help support and subsidize the cost of running our website, just click on the link above when you do your regular Amazon shopping. It comes at no cost to you and we get some credit from Amazon for the referral! Furthermore, we only link to items we own and highly recommend.]

Although fresh ingredients represent the keystone of the movement started at Chez Panisse, we at ChowFu are huge fans of the dried shiitake. The bold, concentrated flavor of the mushroom helps to jump start the earthy broth in our pho once we give them a nice soak. If you can't find dried shiitakes at your local supermarket, criminis or portabellos can be used as a meaty substitute.

Dairy free ice cream used to be an oxymoron, but we live in a future where being socially conscious does not have to mean missing out on all the good things in life. Actress Kristin Bauer (Pam on True Blood) pined for some Coconut Bliss for her final meal, and Maggie Q follows in her request for some delicious, dairy free ice cream.

Our recipe comes from an adaptation of something made at the Modernist Cuisine kitchen. Like Chez Panisse did in the 80s, the Modernist Cuisine is a movement that is rapidly changing the face of home cooking. The story of the Modernist Cuisine movement is almost as strange as some of the ingredients they use in their cooking. It all started when a former CTO of Microsoft, Nathan Myhrvold, decided to write a cookbook, but in the obsecenly wealthy software engineer kind of way (i.e. build a lab and hire over 50+ people). What he ended up with was a six volume tome weighing 52 pounds which contained countless recipes along with novel techniques for preparing food. It quickly became the bible of cookbooks and represents an unprecedented achievement in food science and research.

Our recipe derives from a more approachable, home version of the original Modernist Cuisine. Modernist Cuisine at Home follows the same approach as its six volume big sister, but offers ingredients that doesn't require a trip to the local chemical plant and unknowingly friending the NSA on your facebook account. We use a pistachio gelato recipe, but replace both the nut and the oil used for both accessibility and cost purposes. The result was a decadent, nutty gelato that we are proud to give Maggie Q before her final walk to the execution chamber.