“Faux” Pho

From Melissa Joulwan, Author of Well Fed Weeknights

This recipe begins with the simplicity of Chinese Five-Spice Pork Ribs that basically cook themselves in the slow cooker. They’re easily transformed into a nourishing bowl of broth spiked with plenty of ginger, oh-so-green bok choy, and morsels of spiced-just-right pork—if you’re in a hurry, you can replace the ribs with any cooked pork, beef, shrimp, or chicken. (Even rotisserie chicken will do!). Give thanks for the Zucchini Noodles that let you twirl, splash, and slurp to your heart’s content.


For The Ribs:

3-4 pounds baby back or St. Louis pork ribs

salt and ground black pepper

2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder

3/4 teaspoon coarse (granulated) garlic powder

1 fresh jalapeño, cut into rings

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons coconut aminos or homemade substitute

1 tablespoon tomato paste

For The Soup:

1 tablespoon coconut oil

2-inch piece fresh ginger, grated (about 2 tablespoons)

3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)

4-6 cups beef broth

4-6 cups chicken broth

1 head fresh bok choy, coarsely chopped

4 medium zucchini, julienned with a julienne peeler or spiralizer

4 teaspoons ghee

4 hard-boiled eggs, cut in half lengthwise

8 scallions, thinly sliced

garnish: chopped fresh cilantro, fresh jalapeños, fresh lime juice


Cook the ribs. Cut the ribs into pieces that will fit standing up in the slow cooker. Lay the ribs on a cutting board and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix the Chinese five-spice and garlic powders together, then massage onto the meat to coat the ribs. Toss the jalapeño rings into the bottom of the slow cooker, and add the rice vinegar, coconut aminos, and tomato paste. Stir until the tomato paste is combined with the other liquids. Add the ribs, standing up so they’re not lying in the liquid—or use a roasting rack inside the cooker so the ribs are not lying on the bottom—cover, and cook 6 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low. When the ribs are fall-apart tender, remove them from the cooker and set aside.

Prep the broth. Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat and add coconut oil. When it’s melted, add the ginger and garlic, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the beef and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, about 10 minutes. Add the pork ribs and bok choy to the pot. Stir and simmer until the bok choy is tender and the meat is hot, about 5 minutes.

To serve, place some raw zucchini noodles in the bottom of a deep bowl. Add pork, greens, and broth. Drop 1 teaspoon of ghee into the bowl, place 2 hard-boiled egg halves into the broth, and sprinkle with the scallions. Garnish with cilantro, jalapeños, and lime juice, if that’s how you slurp.

Want to order in instead? Here’s where to get Chinese foods delivered from in NYC and Los Angeles. Try making these dumplings from Mimi Cheng’s.