Home made black burger buns filled with drool-worthy crispy fried oyster mushrooms and spicy eggplant.
This black burger is so delicious, I’ve already added it to the menu of the imaginary restaurant I’d love to open one day!
It’s a moody looking meal that delivers the big bucks in terms of flavour and manages to combine so many things I love into each tasty mouthful. Crispy, meaty-but-not-meat, fried oyster mushrooms and silky, spicy eggplant cooked with garlic, ginger and a touch of sesame oil are complemented with fresh coriander and red onion. A big smear of mayo or aioli and I’m in burger heaven.
What the heck is a black burger, and why?
Really, it’s just a bit of fun. I’ve seen black burgers on the menu in a few places lately and wanted to give it a go myself.
The black burger buns are created by adding activated charcoal into the bread dough. I like to think it tastes somehow different and better, but in truth if I was blindfolded I can’t guarantee I’d be able to tell the difference. They just look cool.
If you’re making these for friends then get your hands on some activated charcoal and give them a laugh with something that’s a bit different. If you don’t have or can’t find the charcoal, don’t worry, just leave it out.
Making your own buns does take a little time, but most of it is hands-off time to allow the dough to rise.
And, heaven forbid, if you don’t want to make your own buns, the oyster mushrooms and spicy eggplant in this recipe would be totally delicious in any good store bought burger bun too.
And, what the heck is activated charcoal?
Don’t go thinking I’m suggesting you add a lump of charcoal to your bread dough. It’s nothing so ominous.
Activated charcoal is something you can inexpensively buy from pharmacies or even the health supplements department at the supermarket. It’s a natural remedy that’s used as an an antidote for drugs and poison, and for more everyday problems like bloating, gas, digestion issues and diarrhoea. Remarkably, the reason it’s so effective is because of it’s high absorbency – just one gram of activated charcoal has a surface area in excess of 3,000 m2 (32,000 sq ft) due to its extreme porosity. Crazy stuff.
I bought a jar of activated charcoal capsules to use in this recipe (and add to my medicine cabinet). I simply pulled the capsules apart and mixed the finely powdered charcoal in with the flour in my bread dough. I used 16 capsules, which I measured to be two teaspoons of activated charcoal powder (you can also buy jars of it in powder form). I found that quantity to be enough to achieve a fairly black dough.
Now, on to the burger fillings
I love a good vege burger and often make my own patties, this black bean burger recipe is my favourite. Sometimes it’s nice to have something simpler though.
I found these spectacular oyster mushrooms at my local Asian supermarket and knew they’d be absolutely perfect in a burger. I simply dredged them in seasoned cornflour (cornstarch) and shallow fried them until crisp. Delicious!
I also had a handful of skinny purple eggplant to use. They cook quickly and have a really melty, silky texture once cooked, so I fried them with garlic, ginger and fresh chilli and added some water to help them cook down until they were nearly falling apart. A splash of black vinegar adds sharpness (use any vinegar you like). The result is almost like a chutney or relish, inspired by Chinese flavours, which works brilliantly with the oyster mushrooms as a burger filling.
Lip smacking delicious home made black burger buns filled with crispy fried oyster mushrooms and spicy eggplant.
- 1 tsp yeast
- 1 tsp raw sugar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp activated charcoal powder
- 2 cups flour
- 4 thin purple eggplant (about 250g/9oz)
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
- Finger sized piece fresh ginger finely chopped
- 1 fresh chilli seeds removed, thinly sliced
- 1/8 tsp chilli powder (a pinch, optional)
- 1 tbsp black vinegar or vinegar of your choice
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt (a pinch)
- 8-12 oyster mushrooms (2-3 per burger, depending on size)
- 1/2 cup cornflour (cornstarch) or rice flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- Cooking oil for frying
- Fresh coriander (cilantro)
- Red onion thinly sliced
- Your favourite mayo or aioli
Dissolve the sugar in 3/4 cup of warm water. Add yeast, and set aside for 5-10 minutes until it starts to foam up a bit.
Mix flour, salt and activated charcoal together in a mixing bowl.
Stir sesame oil into the water and yeast mixture, then pour into the mixing bowl. Bring together into a dough.
Tip dough onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise for an hour (or until doubled in size).
Preheat oven to 180C (350F) fan bake.
Remove dough from the bowl and use a knife to cut it into four even portions. Lightly knead each portion and form it into a smooth bun shape. Arrange buns on a baking tray and set aside for another 20-30 minutes to rise a little again before baking.
Bake buns for 20 minutes, remove from the oven and allow to cool a little before serving.
Trim tops off eggplant and slice into thinnish pieces.
Heat cooking oil and sesame oil in a frypan (skillet) over medium-high heat. Add eggplant to the pan and cook until it is starting to colour.
Add garlic, ginger, sliced chilli and chilli powder. Cook, stirring, until fragrant and softened.
Add 1/2 cup of water, black vinegar, sugar and a pinch of salt. Cook for another few minutes until the water has mostly evaporated and the mixture is very soft, thick and glossy.
Set aside until ready to serve.
Mix cornflour, salt and pepper in a bowl.
Add a shallow layer of cooking oil to a large frypan (skillet) and bring to a medium-high heat.
One by one, dredge oyster mushrooms in the cornflour mixture and add to the frypan. Fry until golden brown on both sides (turning as needed). Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.
Slice burger buns open and reheat in a warm oven if needed.
Arrange buns with your choice of mayo or aioli, spicy eggplant, a handful of coriander leaves and sliced onion, and 2-3 crispy fried oyster mushrooms. Stab with a bamboo skewer to hold the burger together, if desired.
- I used the powder from 16 activated charcoal capsules, equivalent to 2 tsp.
- Nutrition information does not include oil for frying oyster mushrooms - you decide how much you'd like to use.