Fast-food style tofu burgers made with thick slabs of crispy tofu nestled in a burger bun with a generous dollop of lemony green pea and caper mayo.
I don't frequent fast food restaurants much at all because there's usually little I'm willing to eat (barring the occasional french fry emergency), and they're generally not businesses I want to support. But that doesn't mean there aren't times when I'd appreciate a simple and delicious burger that's pleasing in that fried, salty, crunchy kind of way that appeals to our base instincts.
I think of this crispy tofu burger as a bit of a vegan take on a fish burger, with a healthified sharp and salty green pea mayo to complement the golden fried glory of the crunchy tofu.
How to achieve crunchy tofu
Start with two blocks of your favourite firm tofu, drained well. I sliced each block in half to create two thick slabs, then drained them well on kitchen towels. I like Tonzu organic tofu (NZ)*.
Next you'll be crumb coating the tofu. Arrange three bowls, with well-seasoned flour, soy milk and panko crumbs. Dredge each slab of tofu in flour, dunk it in soy milk, then into the panko crumbs. For best, extra crunchy results, repeat with another layer of flour, soy milk and crumbs. If you're used to using eggs to crumb coat things, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how well it works to replace the egg with a plant-based milk.
Using Japanese panko crumbs really adds to the crunch. If you're new to them, they're like regular bread crumbs but have a much larger flake that is perfect for crunchy crumb coatings. Panko crumbs are easy to find at the supermarket in New Zealand, and gluten free options are usually available if you need them.
I was going for a fast food kind of result here, so shallow fried the tofu until it was a deep golden brown. The result was deliciously crunchy on the outside, soft and yielding on the inside, and just perfect wrapped in a burger bun.
You could try spraying the tofu with oil and baking until golden instead, if you're cutting down on oil.
* I wasn't paid to say so, I love Tonzu tofu and rarely buy any other brand.
Green pea and caper mayo
This green pea and caper mayo is really easy to make and ideal to complement the crunchy, fried tofu. I roughly blitzed some frozen green peas (thawed in a sieve under a hot tap) and capers together, then stirred through some store bought vegan mayo and a squeeze of lemon.
Using green peas in this way adds a sweet, fresh taste to the mayo, makes a little mayo go further, and adds a bit of extra protein too. Did you know green peas have 8g of protein per cup?
If you want to keep things simple use your favourite store bought mayo as I did, or go full DIY and try this recipe for eggless aioli which would also work perfectly here.
For the mayo:
- 1 cup frozen green peas (thawed)
- 1 tablespoon capers
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (approx.)
- Pinch salt
For the burgers:
- 2 packs firm tofu (approx. 550g/1.2lb)
- ½ cup flour (approx.)
- ½ cup soy milk (approx.)
- 1 cup panko crumbs
- 4 burger buns
- Oil for frying
- Cos lettuce leaves (to serve)
For the mayo:
- Roughly blitz green peas and capers with a stick blender or small food processor.
- Stir mayo into the pea and caper mixture, season with a pinch or two of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice.
For the burgers:
- Slice each block of tofu in half to create two thick slabs of tofu. Drain on paper towels to remove as much excess moisture as possible.
- Arrange flour, soy milk and panko crumbs in three bowls. Season the flour well with salt and pepper.
- Crumb coat the tofu by dredging it in flour, dipping it in soy milk, then into panko crumbs. Repeat with a second coat of flour, soy milk and panko crumbs, then set aside until ready to cook.
- Heat a generous amount of oil for shallow frying in a large frypan (skillet), to a medium heat. I used grapeseed oil.
- Gently place the slabs of tofu into the frypan and cook on all sides until deeply golden brown. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels to remove excess oil.
- To serve, smear generous spoonfuls of mayo onto warm burger buns, top with tofu and cos lettuce and eat immediately.
- Nutrition information estimated based on the tofu retaining 2 tablespoon of oil after frying.
- Green pea and caper mayo is best made just before serving, as it will lose its bright green colour when stored (but will still taste fine).