Tofu Burgers

When I was thirteen and first decided to become a vegetarian, my mom’s response was, “Well!  Don’t expect me to cook anything special for you!  You can just eat whatever I make, or you can cook dinner for yourself!”

My mom and I didn’t have the best relationship for most of my teenage years.  This is quite the understatement.

But at some point, relations thawed and we began to cook together (and to look forward to cooking together) and it turns out she actually enjoyed cooking—and eating— vegetarian meals—it was just that back then she couldn’t handle the stress of cooking a separate entrée because cooking one meal for the whole family was stressful enough for her.

This is one of the first recipes I remember cooking together with my mom.  It has endured over the years (nearly ten since I got this cookbook), possibly because of the accompanying ginger sauce, or the fact that this is a recipe for tofu that actually tastes like something, instead of the nothing that tofu usually tastes like.

The original recipe was for ‘batter-dipped tofu,’ and it tasted—with the ginger sauce— amazing.

However.

As leftovers, the batter coating tended to get soggy and/or fall off of the tofu, leaving you to eat (separately) a fried batter coating and plain tofu (and as you know, I love good leftovers).

This, combined with my laziness, caused me to adapt the ‘batter-dipped’ to just a ‘burger.’   I liked the flavors, but the process of dipping them in the flour, and then in the egg mixture, and then back in the flour, and then frying them was just sort of overwhelming.

So I thought, why not just put it all in a food processor, form it into patties and be done with it?

Voila.

No more batter-coating falling off the tofu, no more ‘club hand,’ no more plain tofu cubes.  Win-win-win.  (Is that the appropriate amount of wins or should there be more?)

So, here it is, the batter-dipped-but-no-longer-dipped-tofu recipe that brought my mom and I back together.

Totally worth it.  Just don’t forget the ginger sauce.

Tofu Burgers Recipe
adapted from The 15-minute Gourmet Vegetarian
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried dill
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 egg (vegans: substitute 1/3 cup flax meal, but be forewarned that the texture will be slightly gummy)
1 container firm tofu (Mine comes in a 19-oz. container, but 12-, 14-, or 16-oz. is fine [p.s. it’s way cheaper at the asian market])
2 Tablespoons toasted wheat germ (or flax meal)
Bread crumbs for coating
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
Drain tofu.  Combine all ingredients (except bread crumbs) in food processor, and process until well mixed.  If mixture seems too watery (i.e. not able to form into patties), add bread crumbs until mixture is of proper consistency.  Form mixture into patties and coat in bread crumbs.
Heat oil over medium heat in large saucepan.  Fry tofu patties in oil for 3-4 minutes per side until lightly browned, approximately 3 minutes per side.  Serve with ginger sauce and rekindle your broken relationship with your mother.

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