Friday, February 18, 2011

Tofu Burgers (Inspired by Junko)

In my English class today we were talking about recipes and Junko told me she made Tofu Burgers last night. I was inspired!!! I asked her how she makes her tofu burgers and got a few ideas from her to combine with my normal way of making them. Suddenly I had a hankerin' for Tofu Burgers! Somehow I don't think "hankerin' " and "tofu" belong in the same sentence ;P So tonight I made them, and since I am officially addicted to sharing recipes, YOU get to see how I made these! Or if you're sick of my recipes, then that's cool too!

I am going to cover my finished burger with a sauce made from a Japanese broth and some veggies. These burgers are yummy with other topping as well. You could mix some catsup and worshteshire sauce (did I spell that right? somehow I doubt it) or just salt and pepper it. I've never tried it but I bet steak sauce would even be yummy. Get adventurous, especially if you can't get the ingredients for my sauce. But I will share the sauce I made below too.

You will need...

For the sauce -

1/4 cup mild soy sauce
1/4 cup hon mirin
1 1/2 to 2 cups of water
konbu (dried kelp) or some kind of dashi (Japanese broth) which is optional
1 Tbsp of corn starch or potato starch (片栗粉)


some carrots (which we will grate and divide later)

some spinach

In a small sauce pan combine the soy sauce, mirin, water and a few snips of the kelp, bring to a boil and simmer for two to three minutes while you skim off any white stuff that forms at the top. Set this aside for later.

For the Tofu Burgers you will need...

~1 and 1/2 packs of 木綿豆腐 (firm tofu) this amounts to about 600 grams or about 22 ounces

1/2 of an onion

1 carrot

1 egg

200 grams or about 1/2 lbs of ground meat (I used an 80% lean combination of pork and beef here)

*1 cup of パン粉 (panko - or Japanese breadcrumbs, the most amazing breadcrumbs in the world)

~1 tsp of oil

*see my note about panko at the end

Place tofu in a strainer over a bowl, and microwave on high for 3 minutes. When the microwave beeps, just ignore it cause as you do other things the tofu is going to drain a lot of water out and that's what we want. Plus we want it to cool cause we are going to get our hands in it later.

Finely chop an onion (this onion was huge and I only need about one cup of chopped onion so I stopped half way through!

make thin slices across the onion like this, leaving the root end together.

now slice the other way

After this I chopped at the pile a bit more to make them smaller. If the pieces are too big the tofu burger will fall apart easily. So chop it pretty fine.

Now grate a carrot on your cheese grater (I use the large holes because my kids love veggies but you can use the smaller holes or even grind up the carrot if you want the pieces smaller)

Set aside a small amount of this grated carrot for the sauce we will make at the end. The rest will be used inside the tofu burger.

Now you've got a good looking group of characters that look like this...

We want to stir fry this a bit so that they are tender and totally done since cooking the final tofu burgers won't take very long and we want to make sure these get their turn in the heat! So prepare a frying pan with about a tsp of oil and go ahead and start frying the onions...

After about two minutes toss in the rest and stir fry until the meat is done and veggies are tender.

I don't want too much oil in my burger so I put this in a strainer and place it over a bowl for a few minutes to drain some of the fat off. However since this was lean ground meat, not much will come off of it.

Now we are going to take these friendly characters...

and get goopy with it!

Lift up your strainer and look how much water came out of the tofu...

Toss the tofu in a bowl.

check out how much oil came off the meat and veggies.

I will use this oil for frying the tofu burgers so I set the bowl aside and dump the meat mixture in with the tofu

along with the bread crumbs

and one egg

CONFESSION time here... I always crack my egg over a separate bowl first because I don't like crunchy little shells showing up uninvited to the party at the dinner table. I know extra calcium is good for you and all, but I'd rather not find it as a gritty surprise inside my mouth. YUCK

So dump that egg on in there and then get your hands in it!!!! THIS is the fun part! Take out all your stress on this poor helpless tofu. Squish it and punch it and stir it, and just make it into some goopy gunk!

It'll start to look like this but keep going a little more...

Now this is probably just right!

Take the oil you drained off the meat mixture and brush some of it into the same frying pan you used to fry the meat mixture (no need to clean it up in between, the more flavor the better) and heat your pan on a fairly low flame. IF you'd like to go SLIGHTLY healthier here, diss the meat mixture drainage, and just use some fresh oil. I won't be offended, I promise!

form your burgers and lay them in the hot pan! If at this point the mixture doesn't seem to want to hold together, add a bit more bread crumbs.

cover the pan with a lid and wait about 5 minutes until the under side is beginning to brown and when you push against the burger with your spatula it is a bit firmer than it was in the beginning.

flip them all over cover and cook for about 5 more mintues. Repeat until all your mixture is used up! I usually end up with about 8 to 10 of these burgers.

While that is cooking, wash your spinach and cut it into small pieces about 1-2 cm long like this...

I always rinse the end of the spinach again after snipping off the root, just to be sure all the grainy stuff is gone.

Now in that same frying pan take these guys (carrots and spinach, mixture of 1 Tbsp of starch and about 3 Tbsp of water, plus the sauce that you prepared and set aside at the beginning)

No need to add any oil here, just clear out any pieces of tofu burger that may be left as a straggler in the pan.

Pour in the veggies and on a medium flame cook until the spinach is just beginning to wilt.

Pour in the sauce that you made (keeping out the pieces of kelp). Bring this to a boil.

As soon as it boils, lower the flame.

Make sure the water and starch you prepared are mixed well and pour this into the pan where it will quickly thicken.

Place each tofu burger on its own plate and pour over some of the sauce!

And there you have it!!!!!! Sorry no pictures of the crew enjoying this one this evening. They devoured it too quickly and I was too busy devouring my own. I DID take pictures of Rocky licking his plate clean but he was too embarrased to let me upload those! LOL!

This is yummy directly on top of some rice with the sauce poured on. It also freezes well, so make a bunch and freeze some for later!

Also, don't be afraid to experiment with what goes in the burger AND on top! This is a very flexible recipe!

*If you can not find Japanese panko, I don't recommend using other bread crumbs. Take a couple pieces of day or two old bread, grate them up on a cheese grater, spread it out thinly on a cookie sheet and toast it in the oven!

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