In my early teenage years, one of the first few things I cooked in Home Economics class was a tofu burger, or a vegetarian burger as it was called back then when vegan / paleo / lacto-ovo / pescetarian diets were unheard of, and there were only two dietary specifications in class; meat-eating or non-meat eating. As someone who not only was clumsily nervous in the kitchen, but also detested greens and any incarnation of eat-it-cos-it’s-good-for-yous, I remembered scowling as I worked my skinny fingers through a squishy piece of tofu, some semblance of diced onions, and seasonings I callously threw in amidst fidgeting with my cooking partner’s apron strings. Interestingly enough, I remember being surprised that the end product actually looked like a (meaty) burger, smelled like a (meaty) burger, though I wasn’t convinced it would taste like one, hence proceeded to pack it home for my mom.
Almost two decades on, with a greater courage around the kitchen, and an appreciation for the aforementioned eat-it-cos-it’s-good-for-yous, it struck me one day to give an homage to my first cooking experience, and have that bite of burger that my indignant younger self had denied me of.
“I can’t believe there’s no meat in this!”;
“Hold on a minute, my stomach’s still in shock. It’s like ‘Whoa wait, that’s not right.'”;
“Yay, I can tell people I ate a tofu burger!”;-
Those were courtesy of the mister, in between mouthfuls, after I made him a wholemeal sandwich with the tofu burger patty (recipe below, sans the sauce) after his curiosity was piqued upon seeing my Instagram post. Now this coming from the guy who, like all other manly men, absolutely loves his meat and burger and meaty burger, I take it that I have done the 13-year-old me proud, and probably would have given her a smack at the back of the head for not taking that one bite then.
Tofu Burger with Zingy Tomato Sauce
(serves one or two, depending on size of patty)
1/2 tau kwa (firm tofu)
1-2 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon mixed herbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 – 1 cup wholewheat breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon ginger paste (or 2-3 cm ginger, grated)
1-2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup water (optional)
Pat the tofu dry with a paper towel, then in a bowl, mash the tofu finely with a fork.
Add in the seasonings and 3/4 cup of breadcrumbs. If the mixture is still wet, add in the remaining 1/4 cup.
Shape into one or two patties, depending on your preferred size.
In a skillet over medium heat, pan-fry the patties, till they are golden brown on both sides.
Remove from heat, and prepare to assemble your burger.
To make the sauce:
Heat up the oil in a saucepan over medium low heat. Saute the garlic and ginger together.
Add in the tomato paste and sugar, and add in water (optional) to thin the sauce.
Leave to simmer for about 5 minutes, then serve with your tofu burger.