Fragrant pho: The Fast Diet

Fragrant pho

Fragrant pho - Credit: Romas Foord

One man’s health scare led to the creation of a new diet, which is fast becoming a worldwide health movement

Calorie county: 48 - add 15 for 50g for extra veg


When travelling in Laos and Vietnam a decade ago, I came to adore the fresh, vivid taste of pho, served at every truck stop and roadside stall.

This is a deliberately loose recipe – add spring vegetables of your choosing, anything that’s going spare in the salad drawer, the veg box, the windowsill herb pot or the allotment.

The quality of taste hinges on a good stock, so do contemplate making your own.


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Serves four:

2 lemongrass stems, outer leaves removed, inner stem finely chopped

2 tsps grated root ginger

4 kaffir lime leaves, torn

1500ml vegetable or fish stock

1 tsp palm sugar


1 Use a pestle and mortar to grind lemongrass, ginger and kaffir lime leaves.

2 Add to a large saucepan with stock and boil for 10 minutes.

3 Add palm sugar, fish sauce and lime juice, tasting to check for balance.

4 Cook prawns in the broth till pink – about 2-3 minutes.

5 Add herbs and red chilli to serve.

6 To bulk up the broth, add mange touts, sugar snap peas, shredded spring cabbage, ribboned carrots, beansprouts, shiitake mushrooms or baby sweetcorn along with the prawns.

7 3 tbsps Thai fish sauce

8 Juice of a lime

9 8 large prawns, shelled and deveined

10 Fresh Thai basil leaves, mint, coriander and finely sliced red chilli to serve


Note: studies show that soup increases satiation - and stops you over-eating