My usual way of making tofu burgers is to pan-fry, then marinate and grill, a slab of tofu, as with Teriyaki tofu burgers.
Another way to make tofu burgers is to mash the tofu with other ingredients, then form into burgers. I’ve tried this type of recipe before, and although the resulting burgers have been tasty, they’ve fallen apart in the pan. No way could you grill or barbecue them.
Although some people like to add gluten to soft burgers to firm them up, I have to admit that I am not enamoured of burgers using gluten as a binding agent. I’ve tried several recipes which use that technique, and the burgers always seem dry and just somehow not very appealing.
However, I have now discovered the secret to tofu burgers that are firm enough to grill or barbecue. Thanks to Sunset magazine for creating this recipe. The only modification I did was to use a homemade vegan substitute for the egg.
You must use a food processor to blend the ingredients into a homogenous sort of dough. (Don’t try a blender; it won’t work.) This dough, which looks far too soft to make burgers, never mind firm burgers, magically firms up when gently pan-fried. After which the burgers can be a) eaten; b) grilled; c) barbecued; or d) breaded and re-fried. I’ve only tried a) myself.
These tofu burgers could be made gluten-free by using gluten-free breadcrumbs.
The original recipe didn’t say to grind the cashews and sunflower seeds before adding to the other ingredients, but I did this anyway. I’ll try it their way next time.
A note on substitutions: if you are going to use a different mixture of nuts/seeds, you may need to adjust the recipe. I tried a variation using all cashews, instead of half cashews and half sunflower seeds, and the mixture was a softer and needed more breadcrumbs to make it firm enough to handle.
About the egg substitute: I came up with a vegan egg substitute that uses gram flour (aka chickpea flour, besan) plus a little arrowroot, mixed with water. It works a treat in this recipe: when cooked, the besan and arrowroot bind the other ingredients together. If you’re not familiar with using besan in recipes, be aware that it has a bit of a odd taste when raw (which disappears when cooking). Keep that in mind if you are tasting the uncooked dough.
Grillable tofu burgers
|Vegan egg substitute|
|2 tablespoons||besan (chickpea flour, gram flour)||2 tablespoons|
|1/2 teaspoon||arrowroot||1/2 teaspoon|
|3 tablespoons||water||3 tablespoons|
|225g||firm tofu, drained & patted dry||1/2 pound|
|40g||dry breadcrumbs||1/4 cup|
|34g||raw cashews, ground||1/4 cup|
|34g||raw sunflower seeds, ground||1/4 cup|
|28g||raw mushrooms, sliced||1/4 cup|
|1-1/2 teaspoons||Dijon mustard||1-1/2 teaspoons|
|1-1/2 teaspoons||soy sauce||1-1/2 teaspoons|
|1/2 teaspoon||ground cumin||1/2 teaspoon|
|1/4 teaspoon||cayenne||1/4 teaspoon|
|1/8 teaspoon||salt, or to taste||1/8 teaspoon|
|olive oil for frying|
1. Make the egg substitute: Whisk together the besan and arrowroot. Add two tablespoons of water and whisk until smooth. Add the additional tablespoon of water and whisk again.
2. Combine all ingredients, except oil, in a food processor until smooth. The dough will form into a ball. It will look and feel too soft to make burgers, but do not despair, as it firms up a lot when cooked.
3. Heat up a heavy cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Add a bit of olive oil and spread it around the pan. You can now either form the mixture into burgers with your hands (lightly oil your hands to keep the mixture from sticking), or simply plop dollops of the mixture into the frying pan and shape into burgers in the pan. Make three or four burgers depending on how big you want them.
4. Cook, turning once, until lightly browned on both sides and firm to the touch, 10 to 12 minutes total.
Can be served as is, grilled or barbecued.
Makes three or four burgers.