I admit, sometimes I miss meat. I know what the animals go through and how bad it is for our planet, so I keep refraining from doing so. Nevertheless, I never cease from experimenting in the kitchen, trying to reach results that will ultimately reconstruct the flavor and texture of the real deal, without to operate a full chemistry lab on it.
Hamburger is almost the national dish of Tel Aviv, second maybe only to hummus or falafel. And those are not the thin, industrial patties but the grandiose, hand chopped ones which are an entire meal. And those, which will give you the meatiest experience one can get without having a steak, are the ones I miss the most.
And then this happened. This hamburger is rather not that complicated to make, but the process of thinking behind it was rather complex. Not only the flavor needs to be reconstructed, but also the texture, the fattiness, small hidden flavors like the saltiness of blood, and of course, the blood-red color.
This hamburger was also tested on meat-eaters, which approved it to be the nearest meatless alternative they have tried.
Ingredients (4-5 large patties):
1/2 cup wild red rice
1/5 cup grated jerusalem artichoke
2 cups finely chopped mushrooms (I used portobello, porcini and shiitake)
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato paste (I make my own with just moist sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil and garlic)
50g firm tofu, grated
1 spoon flour (can be exchanged with chickpea or soy flour)
salt, smoked paprika, allspice
The thing that keeps it all together is the rice. You start with cooking the rice with 2 cups of water and the grated jerusalem artichoke, that will give it a nice, deep, earthy flavored. Once it is cooked, take a stick blender and start mashing it to a coarse but sticky mash.
In a pan saute the onion in the coconut oil. Once it starts to become golden, add the mushrooms. Mix well and let them saute as well. Their volume will significantly reduce. Approaching the end of the process, after around 5 minutes of stirring well over the flame, add the tofu, paprika and allspice. Mix well, take it off the flame and add to the rice mixture.
Let the mix cool a bit, and add all the rest of the ingredients. Taste and see if something is missing, correct the seasoning. It should be a chunky and yet sticky mix. If you want a finer burger you can blend half of the amount to paste and mix with the rest. I’d rather keep it the way it is.
IMPORTANT: Let the mixture stand for a while before frying it, the flour needs to absorb the remaining liquids and it will also stick better together once grilled cold.
The best way to grill it is in a non-stick pan with a tiny bit of oil. High flame, until completely grilled from each side. If you want it drier and more solid, you can then transfer them to 10 minutes in the oven.
If you are grilling outside and want to take them with you, it is also possible, In that case you should first bake them for 15 minutes in 200 degrees, let them cool, and take them with you. They will solidify and you can take them anywhere.
Then, hamburger buns, vegannaise, ketchup, relish mustard, gherkins, onions, greens, tomatoes… Some potato wedges on the side. You know the drill. Enjoy.
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