I would not have anyone believe that every dish I make is a grand success. The recipe I am posting was successful, but the variation pictured was less so. One of the down sides of constantly tinkering with recipes is that not every change works. While these failures are rarely inedible (one day I may tell the story of brine turkey) they are not always popular with my family. If you are lucky your family will tell you when something doesn’t work. Yes, I get “pouty” when they say that they didn’t like something, but that is better than making the same mistake twice thinking they loved whatever it was you had made.
San Jose Tofu Factory makes super fresh tofu every day, except Sunday. If I am anywhere near J-town, I always stop by to pick up a block or two of their fresh soft tofu. I know that many who come to my site will probably not have the opportunity to have real fresh tofu unless you learn to make it yourself. On most days the Tofu Factory sells all of the tofu they have made that day. On the odd days that they do not they take the remaining blocks and press them into 3 x 3 x ½ inch squares of firm tofu. On the rare days that they have them, these dense squares of tofu are pure gold. They are perfect for making mapo doufu (one day soon I will need to post this recipe) or tofu burgers.
In the past, I have had success with marinating these tofu squares in teriyaki sauce and then frying them. Yesterday I thought, “Can I make them taste more like hamburger patties?” I marinated the tofu in soy sauce and mirin, but instead of using ginger, I then sprinkled them with Paul Prudhommes’s Meat Magic. Partly it was just that Jan had expected the teriyaki flavor, but also the Meat Magic did not seem to blend well with the soy sauce. The almost flavorless tofu and the soy sauce did not supply the proper umani flavor to work with the spices. Perhaps if I had used Worcestershire sauce instead it might have been a better combination. Be that as it may, Jan was clearly disappointed.
If you do not have access to perfectly pressed tofu, you can make your own from what you may find in your store. Buy “extra firm tofu” and drain off the liquid. Put the block on a large plate and invert a second plate and put it on top. Balance a heave weight on top, to press as much liquid as possible out of the tofu. As the liquid is released drain it off into a bowl or sink. Press the tofu at least one half hour. (At the Tofu Factory, they have wooden frames to press several blocks at the same time and they press it all night.) Slice the pressed tofu into half inch thick “patties.”
Note: Since the difference between the successful recipe and the failure is purely in taste, I am using the picture of the disaster and posting the tasty one.
Karl’s Teriyaki Tofu Burgers
Note: Amounts are for four servings.
4 pressed tofu squares
2 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. mirin
1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
1 Tbs. peanut oil
4 slices of sweet onion
4 Oroweat Sandwich Thins, whole wheat
4 slices beefsteak tomato (or 8 slices Roma tomato)
4 Romaine lettuce leaves
Condiments (catsup, mayonnaise and/or mustard)
1. Marinate the tofu in the soy sauce, mirin and ginger for 10-30 minutes.
2. Put the peanut oil in a skillet and fry the squares until lightly browned on both sides (about 3-4 minutes per side).
3. Slice the onion into 1/8 inch thick disks.
Tip: You may use the onions raw or fry them in the skillet for those who preferred grilled onions on their burgers.
4. Toast the Sandwich Thins lightly.
Note: Sandwich Thins are just very thin hamburger buns. You may use a regular hamburger bun if you prefer.
5. Assemble your hamburger to your own preference.
6. Serve with baked fries.