The Best Veggie Burger Ever

An umami burger with miso mayo that everyone will love.




Photo by Leah Lizarondo
 

 

Holy Cow! After many, many iterations, I think I’ve found my cookout-worthy veggie burger. This is it. The burger that won’t make me feel like a second class citizen on Memorial Day, 4th of July, Independence Day and all the other outdoor parties in between.

No! Never again! As good as Scarlett O’Hara can say it, “As God as my witness, I will never eat just sides and chips again!” I will be pilin’ on the fixins on top of my very own mouthwatering, umami-fied burger. Um-what?

Umami! The almost-mythical, hard to describe fifth taste. You know the other four: bitter, sour, salty and sweet. We know what those are when we taste them. But umami is a little bit harder to qualify. It's that “savory” taste. It results from the stimulation of our l-glutamate receptors that allows us to appreciate the “wholeness” of the dish we are tasting. Often, we look for it to give us satisfaction. That’s why MSG was created. To amplify this sensation.

We typically feel like we need meat to get this stimulation because that’s what most of us are used to eating. However, there are many non-meat sources of umami: ripe tomatoes, mushrooms (especially shiitake), seaweed, fermented foods such as soy sauce, miso and sauerkraut, and herbs such as thyme and rosemary.

So with that in mind, I piled on as much umami as I could muster in one recipe. Mushrooms. Tamari/soy sauce. Worcestershire sauce. Tomato-concentrated steak sauce. Optional miso. And Marmite. Oh yes I did! THAT confounding yeast extract that Brits and Aussies love to spread on their toast. The horror. I could never understand it and I’ve tried many times. Many, many times. Thank God I have Biscoff spread to take the taste out of my mouth each time I did. It is most definitely an acquired taste. In this recipe, it is optional BUT, oh my, it rounds out the umami cast of characters. I’ve been testing this recipe and eating this burger for two days straight. At some point, I will stop. At some point.

So here it is. My present to you. A protein, nutrient and fiber-packed veggie burger (a claim its meat counterpart can’t make) that’s completely satisfying. Rejoice, your summer savior has come!

 

  Umami Burger with Miso Mayo

Yield: Makes about 6 patties (make a double batch and freeze the patties)

  • ½ cup finely chopped onions
  • 2-4 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 portabella or 6 cremini mushrooms, chopped fine
  • 3 oz. shiitake mushrooms (about a heaping cup), chopped fine
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • splash of red wine to deglaze pan
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
     
  • ¼ c. chickpea flour
  • 2 tsp arrowroot powder or cornstarch (this is your binder. I strongly recommend arrowroot)
  • 1 cup cooked white beans, drained
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1/2- tsp-1 tsp salt (taste your mixture, umami “works” better with some saltiness)
  • 1-2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 2 tsp steak sauce
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp savory
  • ½ tsp sage
  • 2 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • ½ tsp Marmite of Vegemite (optional but recommended)
     
  • ½ c. chopped onion
  • 1 c. – 1 ½ c. brown rice or wild rice (or a mixture, which I used. Day old is fine)
  • ½ chopped walnuts


Miso Mayo
For the Miso Mayo recipe, click here.

1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees (if you are “finishing” the patties on the grill, no need to do this step).
2.     In a sauté pan, sauté onions, garlic, mushrooms and thyme in olive oil until soft. Deglaze the pan with a splash of red wine if needed. Make sure all moisture is evaporated. Set aside.
3.     In a food processor, process the next 15 ingredients (from chickpea flour to Marmite, if using) to form a rough paste.
4.     Add the chopped onion, brown rice/wild rice and the walnuts and pulse once or twice to incorporate. Don’t over process, you want it to have texture. The mixture must be sticky enough to form into patties. If not, add a little bit more chickpea flour.
5.     Form into patties and cook on a griddle searing both sides.
6.     At this point, you can finish the veggie burgers in the oven for 8-10 minutes or put it over a grill.
7.     Serve with miso mayo and your favorite fixins.
8.     Enjoy!

 

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