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Backpacker's Pho

Backpacker's Pho

By Dally Tram | Photographer, Climber, Backcountry Chef

In light of the Vietnamese Lunar New Year (Vietnam’s largest celebration), traditionally known as “Tết”, I wanted to share my Backpacker’s take on a Vietnamese classic, Pho. Now this dish normally requires hours of preparation and cook time, but we are on the trail and we have 5 minutes. So, take a trip to your local asian market and let’s get cooking.

This pho inspired recipe is designed for simplicity without compromising on the iconic flavor. Being a Vietnamese-American that is passionate about the outdoors, there is nothing more comforting than cozying up to a meal that defined my childhood. It is a perfect way to combine my culture with my passion. 

All ingredients are extremely lightweight and fit into a small sandwich bag. This recipe is so quick, easy, and delicious that any Vietnamese granny would be proud.

1 small bundle of dry flat rice noodles*
1 pho hoa spice packet*
1 bouillon cube (vegetable, chicken, or beef flavor)
5-10 pieces of soy protein*
1 small piece of rock sugar (roughly the size of a grape or alternatively use 1 tsp of brown sugar)*
1 tbsp of dehydrated onions
Optional garnish: green onions and cilantro can be added

Rice noodles can be replaced with ramen noodles
Pho Hoa spice packet can be DIY by combining ground cloves, ground star anise, ground cinnamon, and ground ginger in a tea bag
Soy protein can be replaced with any other protein
Rock sugar can be replaced with brown sugar

Jetboil Flash Cooking System
Utensil of choice (chopsticks or fork)

Preparations: Add all ingredients to a small reusable bag or sturdy container

  1. Add all ingredients (rice noodles, spice bag, bouillon cube, soy protein, and rock sugar) into a jetboil system.
  2. Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil, once a rolling boil is reached, turn off the flame.
  3. The spice packet will inflate in your jetboil, but have no fear, this is normal.
  4. Stir ingredients until the bouillon cube and rock sugar are dissolved
  5. Cover with lid for approximately 5 minutes
  6. Once the rice noodles and soy protein are soft, remove and discard the spice packet.
  7. Add optional garnish if desired, mix gently and enjoy!

There are many different bundle sizes of flat rice noodles available at most asian markets, make sure you choose a bundle that is compact enough to fit into your jetboil system. (or alternatively portion enough for your serving size)

The soy proteins are a great light weight and dry ingredient, they can have a tough texture if not completely softened by hot water. Make sure to allow the protein pieces to soak in hot water and soften completely before enjoying.

For a more rich flavor, leave the spice packet in your soup to steep longer.

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