This is my first attempt at a vegan burger patty. There’s not a great story behind it. A friend of mine had a bucket of gluten in her cupboard and didn’t quite know what to do with it. So we started a seitan trial. “Gyros” was the first experiment but then just making the seitan, chopping and frying it wasn’t enough. So I continued with making the seitan, destroying it in a blender and trying to stick it together again. This might seem a bit arkward and destructive to you. But I wanted the challenge of creating a burger patty which is close to the consistency of a meat patty. So I accepted the challenge and the result was rather satisfying.
There are two main problems when making something out of seitan. First: seasoning. You want a savory, hearty flavour, a good deal “umami” going on. And as you have to boil the seitan, you don’t want all of that flavour being washed out. Second: holding together pieces of seitan. You have to cook the gluten dough in order to get seitan. During that process the protein creates a beautiful matrix which really reminds of meat. But then you want to treat it like raw meat: mince it and form a patty out of it. The mincing is no problem but because of the cooking the protein is already denatured (“broken”) and it won’t do that again. For meat patties you take raw meat and it forms bonds while frying the patty. So when working with seitan an extra “glue” is needed.
That’s how I tackled these problems: For the umami flavour I took Miso paste and dried mushrooms and I steamed the seitan by hanging a colander into a pan. The glue I chose is potato starch (Speisestärke).
For making the seitan you need:
- 250 g gluten flour
- 2 heaped tbsp miso paste
- 300 ml water
- 2 tbsp vegetable stock powder
- optional: spices you like
Boil the water and mix with the vegetable stock powder and the miso paste. If you taste it, you might find it way too strong on its own, but it will be necessary to season the seitan properly. Pour it over the gluten flour and mix with a hand mixer for about 8 minutes. It will become very chewy but keep on kneading, you want to include as much air as possible. Bring some water to a boil in a pan, which is big enough to put a colander in and still has enough space between bottom and colander. Then flatten the dough until it has the same size as the bottom of a colander, put it into the colander, install the colander above the boiling water and close the lid. That way the seitan is steamed rather than cooked and the flavouring isn’t washed out. Boil for 45 minutes and turn from time to time. It will expand a lot, but that’s exactly how it should be.
For the patty you need:
- 1 onion (I chose a shallot)
- a handful dried mushrooms
- 60 g potato starch (plus maybe a little more)
- about 50 ml water
Chop the onion and the dried mushrooms very finely and the seitan roughly into big chunks. Blend the seitan until it looks like minced meat. Combine with the onion and mushrooms and dust with the potato starch. Add some of the water and stir with a fork. It won’t come together as a cake or bread dough but when you take a bit and try to press it together it should stay like that for a while. If not, add some more water and/or starch, you have to experiment a bit there. Then take a big handful and press into a round shaped patty. Don’t be discouraged when it doesn’t hold together properly at first, you need to press it down and against the sides with a knife quite a while. Maybe turn round and repeat the shaping. It should look like this:
Now it’s assembling time. Prepare your toppings: I chose mashed avocado, rocket salad, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and apple-mustard sauce.
For the sauce mix 4 tbsp of apple sauce with 1 tbsp of mustard. A few squeezers of lemon juice, a tsp of agave sirup, a little salt and pepper, that’s it.
Heat 1 or 2 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan and fry the patties over medium heat for about 5 minutes each side until golden brown. Meanwhile toast your burger buns.
Spread avocado on the bottom and apple-mustard sauce on the upper half, put the patty on the bottom half, top with tomatoes and the green stuff and assemble. And then take a big bite!