Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Perfect (Tempeh) Burgers

The boys informed me today that while the cabbage roll filling from last night was "thumbs up," cabbage itself was "thumbs down." That means, overall, the cabbage rolls were "thumbs sideways." So, rather than make them suffer through mediocre leftovers, I let them choose the meal tonight. They went with burgers. A few days ago, Vegan Linda posted a comment on my Perfect Burger recipe asking if there was any alternative to the TVP I used. I really didn't have a good response until tonight. Tempeh! In fact, I think these burgers are better than the TVP version. To make them absolutely perfect, I topped them with sauteed onions and mushrooms.

- 1 8.5 oz pkg tempeh, coarsely grated
(If you find tempeh has a "taste," simmer it in boiling water with 2 tsp soy sauce for 10 mins to cut down on the bitterness. Cool before grating. This will increase the water content of the tempeh, so you might want to increase the wheat gluten to 1/2 cup, or not add any extra water.)
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 1/3 cup vital wheat gluten
- 2 tsp ground fennel seed
- 1 tsp sage
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp parsley
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp HP sauce
- 1/4 tsp browning sauce (optional)
- 2-4 tbsp water
- oil for frying

1. Mix grated tempeh, bread crumbs, flour, and spices in a bowl. Add in soy sauce, HP sauce, and enough water to make a firm yet pliable dough. Knead for a few mins to mix everything well.
2. Divide dough into 6 pieces. Shape into patties by pressing into a metal ring.
3. Cook in a thin layer of oil on med-lo heat for about 5 mins per side. The trick is to make thin patties and to fry them low enough to cook them through before burning the outside.
I have played around with the recipe a bit--see this post.


Anke said...

hehe, your burgers look so real... yumm.
btw: Over at Lucullian Delights you can now vote for your favorite recipe containing potatoes, swede, plum tomatoes and (faux) bacon. There is one vegan contender (moi) as well as a fellow vegetarian. So, if you think any of the veg recipes are any good then flock over there and vote and make the veg voice be heard :-).

mustardseed said...

YAY! I have the lost list of ingredients you stated except...HP sauce? What is that??

WHat does browning sauce do? Will I miss anything great if I leave it out?

robiewankenobie said...

i'm so going to try this...but HP sauce? and browning sauce? pleasetobe explaining.

Vegan Dad said...

I really must remember to keep posting the link to the HP website. HP sauce is a brown sauce, or steak sauce. It adds a little zing and flavour to the burger, but is not necessary. Browning sauce is used to brown gravies (Kitchen Bouquet is one brand)--it adds colour but you don't need it.

robiewankenobie said...

thanks for responding! i'm trying hard to bring my husband over from "the dark side." this recipe looks to be a real winner.

the pleasantly plump vegan said...

i NEED to make this soon. those onions look perfect. and what a good dad letting yr kids pick the dinner.

Annie said...

I think cabbage aversion is a kid thing. I remember pulling all the filling out of my grandmother's cabbage rolls.

I love your blog!

VeganLinda said...

Thanks Vegan Dad! I will make these this weekend. We are on a mission for the perfect homemade vegan burger and this looks like a good possibility.

Vegan Dad said...


Let me know what you think, or if you come up with something better. These are the best I have come up with (maybe not perfect, technically, but the still pretty good). They have the right "bite" and the flavour is good, and I dare say they could be BBQed.

mustardseed said...

I think I'll use another kind of steak sauce or barbecue sauce or worcestershire sauce?

Vegan Dad said...

Yes, any kind of steak or BBQ sauce would work well to give the burger a more complex flavour. Worcestershire sauce has anchovies in it, but there are vegan versions available (just not anywhere near here).

Anonymous said...

we just made this tonight. man alive. if i weren't already happily married? i'd be hopping in my car this very minute. my meat eatin' husband thinks they're awesome, too.

robiewankenobie said...

oh, and we used vegan worcesthoweveryouspellit and a vegan beefy bouillon in place of the hp and such.

AdvisorKarin said...

Great recipe! I didn't want to deal with wheat gluten flour today so I used chickpea flour instead, and baked them instead of frying them. Will definitely make these again!

The Vegan Vagabond said...

These burgers are fantastic! I made them following the recipe exactly but was thinking that ground oats or oat flour could be used instead of the bread crumbs to make them with a whole grain.
I popped mine in the oven for 15 min after frying them to make sure they were cooked through.
This recipe is a winner. Thanks Vegan Dad!

Vegan Dad said...

Vegan Vagabond,
Good suggestion. I use instant oatmeal (does that count as a whole grain? I am not sure) when I make tempeh meatloaf, so I am sure the same would work here. Or, you could use whole wheat bread crumbs.

amanda said...

these look great! do you think they could be made a day ahead and then cooked the following day?

Anonymous said...

HP is steak sauce? I have never seen anyone put it on steak in the UK-eww! Bacon rolls are really what HP is most popular on - well and sausages (my dad puts it in ham sandwiches too -weird). Anyway - I would consider HP to be liquidized Branston Pickle (which is a sweet chutney - you should find some and try it) with a ketchup consistency.

Rachel said...

hey, you left out the vital wheat gluten in the directions!

Vegan Dad said...

No, it's there. I just called it flour, insted of vital wheat gluten (flour).

zerbert said...

Wow, great burgers! I made them for the first time today. I meant to make them long ago, but kept using up my tempeh before I remembered :P I actually baked them instead of frying them, as I find when I fry these types of patties they never get solid enough for my taste. I did bake them a little too long, so next time I'll go shorter on the time. But the taste is awesome! Now my favorite way to eat tempeh!

Chaos Mom said...

still haven't made these yet, as i can't seem to find a reasonably priced source of tempeh near me. i think i might have to start making my own. however, when looking for Worcestershire sauce, i found that one of the generic brands (safeway, i think?) does NOT list anchovies in the ingredients. so, unless it's hiding under a different name...i think you'd be safe. try checking the generic brands.

Ron Australia said...

Hi Vegan Dad,

I finally got around to making these today. They were a hit and there were none leftover (I was looking forward to a burger sandwich for lunch tomorrow).

Anyway, I was expecting the texture to be more like your sausages (chewy and like I remember meat sausages to be). Do you think I may have done something wrong or perhaps it might have been better to bake them first and the finish under the grill or fry them?

And for Aussies (and perhaps Brits), browning sauce, I believe, is known here as Parisian Essence.


Vegan Dad said...

ron australia,
These are "softer" than the sausages because they are not steamed. I have played with the recipe a bit (see the post called "An Even More Perfect Burger?") by upping the wheat gluten and adding chopped sausage. I find it best to keep the burgers thin and to keep the heat low when frying them up. I also found they were best when fried up the day before, kept in the fridge, then BBQ'ed to heat them up.

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

I've been meaning to mention, made these for my tempeh hater (husband) & we enjoyed them! Tonight I'm making the reubens!

Gary said...

Wow, these were great. And there's even a better version? Can't wait to try those also.

Lindsay (Happy Herbivore) said...

i made these today--without fennel seeds and using ketchup instead of HP sauce (we're limited here in the Caribbean!)--anyway DELISH! and so FAST! I could have cried when all the veggie burgers at the store were not vegan, but who needs those when i have these?!

Paula said...

Hey Vegan Dad,
I looove these burgers and I'm teaching a vegan cooking class to a group of kids and their parents. I want to make these with them, but it will be hard to coordinate cooking 15 of these burgers at once. Have you ever baked them?

Susan Fabian said...

I had a half package of tempeh leftover and was wondering what to do with it when I came across this recipe. With so many herbs I knew it would be flavorful. I mash my tempeh with a potato masher rather than grating. I also used just a little less gluten since I like a less chewy consistency. I formed the patties into bread size/shape pieces and grilled them then used them as the "meat" in a reuben sandwich. Super tasy, easy and fast. This is a regular go-to recipe in my house now.

Kath Urbahn said...

I find the original flavour of HP brown sauce is very similar to Heinz 57 sauce. If you gotta have HP, a lot of Indo-Pak grocery stores carry British imports (which HP is one).

Kath Urbahn said...

Hey! Great tip! I have celiac, (gluten makes me deathly ill) so I'll try your tweak!

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