Vegetarian Pho

100–150 grams beef seitan, sliced and seasoned to taste
1/4 cup canola oil
1 large onion, quartered
2 teaspoons garlic, chopped
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and cut in chunks
1 large carrot, peeled and cut in chunks
1 large thin-skinned potato, peeled and cut in chunks
3 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
3 star anise
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon vegetarian shrimp paste
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetarian fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt

handful fresh green beans, trimmed but not chopped
1 carrot, sliced diagonally
1 package small tofu puffs, sliced in half diagonally
200 grams wide rice noodles

For the table:
mint, cilantro, and/or Thai basil
chopped scallions
thinly-sliced Thai chiles
dried onions or shallots 
lime wedges
bean sprouts
Hoisin sauce
Sriracha sauce

Heat the oil in large heavy soup pot. Brown the seitan thoroughly, then remove and set aside. Add onion and garlic to pot, and cook until translucent. Add ginger and stir briefly, then add 6 cups of water and carrot, potato, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, peppercorns, and shrimp paste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Let simmer for 2-3 hours. 

When done, strain and return broth to pot, discarding solids. At this point, add soy sauce, fish sauce, and salt. Add seitan along with beans and carrots, and simmer until vegetables are slightly cooked. At this point, you can add 1-2 cups water as necessary to increase the broth. Just before finishing, add tofu puffs. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil, and briefly cook rice noodles. Drain and set aside.

Put a portion of noodles in each bowl, and top with soup. Serve with choice of toppings. 

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