The veggie burger saga continues

This time I try tofu burgers…. with not much success.

Translating our cultural love affair with burgers to a plant-based burger just isn’t easy.  Burgers originated using meat, which has a distinct texture and (IMPORTANT!) holds together.  It’s the nature of ground meat to do that.  It’s not the nature of plant foods to do that.  Which is why processed veggie burgers have to be manipulated with a variety of additives to achieve something approaching a meat-like consistency.

My third attempt at a veggie burger recipe was this recipe for Spicy Thai Tofu Burgers.  I was hopeful, because tofu has a very different texture than cooked beans.  Not to mention it’s a more concentrated protein source, so these burgers would fulfill another attribute of meat burgers: significant protein.  This time I pretty much followed the recipe exactly, with all the requisite ingredients: quinoa, tofu, panic, peanuts, Thai red curry paste, carrot, etc. Check the recipe page for the exact list.

The instructions call for you to slice the tofu block and press out excess water using paper towels.  Which started me wondering how these rather dried and chewy bits of tofu were going to blend with all the other dry and/or chunky ingredients.  After cooking the quinoa and crumbling the tofu, you blend everything together, along with 2 beaten eggs (meaning — not a vegan recipe).  Refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour, divide into 8 balls and press into burger patties.

tofu, panko, quinoa, peanuts, carrots and seasonings

At which point it became obvious that this was not going to work.  The mix was too chunky and crumbly.  I added another egg, which didn’t help at all.  The patties fell apart in the pan while cooking.  I had to carefully arrange the bits onto a bun for serving.  They at least tasted good.  The recipe calls for 1/4 cup of Thai curry paste, but that wasn’t too much.  However, for all the mess and fuss of making a burger recipe, it would have been easier to just sauté some sliced tofu with curry paste, garlic and scallions, and garnish with carrots, peanuts and cilantro.  Serve some steamed brown rice on the side.  And that would have been vegan.

What went wrong?

In my opinion, too many chunky and dry ingredients.  I wondered how it would have turned out using silken tofu and perhaps peanut butter rather than chopped peanuts.  I did see a different tofu burger recipe that used peanut butter.

So far my conclusion is that the best veggie burgers are made with cooked beans (pinto, kidney, cannellini, etc, NOT chickpeas), and most or all of the batter is puréed in a food processor.  I’m not giving up however.  I have a line on another recipe that was recommended to me, so Bean Burgers Part 4 will be coming soon.

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