In Japan, a meat or tofu patty, even without the bun is called "hambaagu" and tofu is often mixed with chicken or mince meat to create patties. It's mild flavour allows any other flavours to shine, whilst ensuring the burger is really moist and tender.
You can buy pre-mix tofu burger seasoning in stores like the Japan centre and I used to make just tofu burgers quite often using these, which made me think- wouldn't they be yummier without all the additives and maybe with some minced mushrooms through them for extra added juicy flavour?
We always have fresh mushrooms in the house, they're delicious, and pack a punch nutritionally, being a great source of B vitamins, as well as being a source of selenium (which is often lacking in vegetarian diets) and potassium, but I had opened a pack of dried shitake mushrooms to make my Gyoza with Mushrooms and Leeks and thought that their extra mushroomyness would really stand out here, so I decided to use a mix of fresh and dried shitake along with the tofu. Extra added bonus is that the texture of the reconstituted shitake is really 'mince' like, which makes for a lovely textured patty.
This mixture is a little delicate- so be careful when flipping, and I have yet to try it on BBQ, but I think maybe it might benefit from a little extra flax seed mix to bind it if you were to. On the other hand - I do think that almost every burger benefits from a bit of flame & char flavour. So as soon as we have some extended sunny days I'll try this out.. and report back.
- 1 pack tofu
- 200 g fresh chestnut mushrooms
- 80 g (around 5) dried shitake mushrooms soaked in warm water
- 5-6 spring onions , finely chopped
- 1 Tbs fresh grated ginger
- 1 Tbs ground flax seeds- mixed with 2 tbs water
- 1 Tbs soy sauce
- ½ tsp konbu (vegetarian) japanese stock powder (or other stock powder)
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
Roughly chop the tofu, wrap it in a double layer of paper towel (or clean teatowel), and put it on a plate with something heavy on it to help it expel moisture.
Squeeze out the water from the soaked shitake mushrooms and finely dice the tops- leave the stems out as they tend to be too woody.
Finely dice the chestnut mushrooms
Combine all the ingredients except the panko breadcrumbs in a bowl and mix to combine.
Add a bit of the water that the shitake mushrooms were soaked in if the mix is a bit dry.
Squish together palm sized burger patties, rolling them in the panko breadcrumbs
Gently pan fry the burgers - about 5 mins each side.
Serve on a bun, or a lettuce leaf with salad and the condiments of your choice.
I really love eating these with Layu (or Rayu)- a Japanese condiment made from chillis, grilled garlic and sesame oil... and maybe a little mayo. Yum!