A few weeks back I was scouring the internet looking for a good tofu burger recipe to no avail. The recipes seemed labor intensive for a weeknight, requiring you to mash the tofu to a ground meat consistency, adding flavor and binder before forming it into patties. I opted to just slice the tofu into slabs, cutting my prep time (and number of dishes) in half. For no other reason than I had an open can of coconut milk, I veered slightly Asian but reasoned peanut sauce was a good match and caramelized onions tasted good with nearly everything.
While Andy loves our mostly meat and dairy free diet, he (like many) hasn’t completely warmed to tofu. He’ll eat it without complaint, but he’s not asking for it. When I made these tofu burgers with caramelized onions and peanut sauce, he ate two and paused the TV twice to emphatically tell me how much he liked them and how I could most definitely make these again. In my book, that makes it blog-worthy. Andy ended up putting his slaw on the burger and we both topped them fairly liberally with sriracha, so this burger has got a lot going for it: spicy, sweet, and crunchy.
Tofu Burgers with Caramelized Onions and Peanut Sauce
Note: To save time use a good-quality store bought peanut sauce. There will be leftover peanut sauce so to make a quick slaw toss 4 cups of shredded cabbage and a grated carrot with a few tablespoons of the peanut sauce and a generous drizzle of fresh lime juice or rice wine vinegar.
1 block extra firm tofu (14 ounces), drained and cut into 4 thick slabs
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup light coconut milk
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil, divided
2 medium-large onions, halved and thin sliced
4 good-quality onion rolls
1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice powder
Salt and ground black pepper
1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
Sriracha sauce (optional)
Wrap tofu in paper toweling or a clean tea towel and place on a plate. Place a second plate on top and weight to drain additional liquid, about 10 minutes.
Mix peanut butter, coconut milk, soy sauce, sesame oil, and ginger in a small bowl; set aside.
Meanwhile heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until light golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until onions are rich golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes longer. Transfer to plate and set aside. Return skillet to stove, add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, and reduce heat to medium.
While onions cook, warm the buns in a 300 degree oven and dust drained tofu slices on both sides with Chinese 5 spice, season with salt and pepper, and dredge in panko. Add tofu to hot skillet and cook, turning only once, until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minute total.
Place a portion of the onions on each bun bottom. Top with a tofu slice and a drizzle of peanut sauce. Serve with slaw (see note above) and extra peanut sauce and sriracha passed separately.