Tempura tofu steak burgers with coriander pesto

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These incredible crispy tofu burgers are packed with flavour and nutrition. Meaty, umami and extremely satisfying with slices of creamy avocado, red onion and tangy coriander pesto, these vegan veggie burgers are a taste sensation.

First published in 2016

Dried tofu is a fascinating ingredient. It has a long shelf life, which is great for keeping on hand, but what makes it truly special is its unique texture – very firm and chewy, holding great shape when cooked and excellent at absorbing all kinds of delicious marinades.

I felt that this texture would be best showcased in a delicious healthy veggie burger, using an umami-rich marinade flavoured with smoked chipotle chilli, dried shiitake mushroom, plenty of fresh garlic and soy sauce. You can vary the ingredients of the marinade, but for this vegan burger recipe I suggest you stick to deeply flavoured savoury seasonings that will bring out the meatiness of the chewy tofu.

To add yet another layer of texture, I coated the tofu steaks in a light tempura batter, which comes together in a matter of seconds. I strongly suggest you do not omit this step, as the extra crispy crunch it adds to the burger is not to be missed! In this batter recipe, the plain flour can be swapped for another flour, including gluten-free flours, as it is the cornflour which brings most of the crispiness. So use what you prefer, or what you have on hand.

Sandwich all that between a crusty sourdough bun filled with fresh lettuce, zingy red onion, creamy avocado and tongue-tingling coriander pesto and you've got yourself a burger party!




Marinated tofu tempura

Coriander pesto

To assemble

  • 4 sourdough rolls, crusty, halved
  • 4 tbsp of mustard, (I used Dijon and wholegrain mixed together)
  • 4 handfuls of lettuce
  • 1 avocado, ripe, peeled and sliced
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced into rings
  • mustard cress
  • mixed salad leaves, to serve


For the pesto, crush the garlic and add to a small bowl with the lemon juice and set aside for 20 minutes – this softens the bite of the raw garlic
Rehydrate the tofu by soaking the whole pieces in warm water until soft, for approximately 5 minutes
Squeeze each piece well to remove any excess water, then return to fresh water for a few seconds and squeeze again until the water runs clear
To make the marinade, blend the dried chilli, mushroom and black peppercorns to a powder in a spice grinder and add to a medium bowl
Crush the garlic and add to the other seasonings. Pour over the soy sauce and add the same quantity of water (100g). Stir the marinade to combine and leave for 10 minutes to rehydrate the dried seasonings
Pour half the marinade into a flat-bottomed plate and arrange the rehydrated tofu pieces in an even layer – you may need 2 plates depending on the size. Distribute the rest of the marinade over the tofu pieces and leave to soak for about 30 minutes
To finish the pesto, add the softened garlic to a food processor with the salt and coriander (cleaned roots included if using Asian coriander) and blend to break down the herbs. With the food processor running, drizzle in enough oil to make a spoonable, glossy pesto and set aside until ready to serve
To make the tempura batter, combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk until fully blended and lump-free – the batter should be the consistency of double cream
Heat a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan (I used a cast-iron skillet) over medium heat. Squeeze most of the marinade out of each tofu steak
When the pan has come to temperature, add about a tablespoon of oil and swirl to coat. Working quickly, dip each steak into the batter, dripping off any excess, and add to the frying pan. You may need to work in batches if your pan isn’t big enough
Cook the tofu steaks until well browned on each side, flipping the tofu halfway – you may need to add another tablespoon of oil at this point. Drain briefly on paper towels. Either serve immediately or keep warm in a low oven
To assemble, layer the ingredients into the sourdough buns and serve
First published in 2016

Specialising in vegetarian food, Nancy has cooked her way around Europe and now writes full time for publications and her blog, Delicious from Scratch.

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