Flavorful and delicious, this burger is the closest thing to food perfection. The oolong tea infusion used in the burger itself and the pickling veggies are strong enough to impart enough flavor without being overwhelmed by the more assertive jalapeño and radish. Because banh mi has a sweet component, the plums are the perfect addition, especially after grilling, which enhances the plums' sweetness, and after a few minutes of macerating in brown sugar.
Oolong Banh Mi Burger [Vegan]
For the Banh Mi Burgers:
- 2 cups hot water
- 4 oolong tea bags
- 3 tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon neutral oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 7 ounces (about half of a 14-ounce package) firm tofu, pressed for 15 minutes
- 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten, stirred before measuring
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 medium jalapeño, minced
- 4 fresh prune plums or purple plums, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 6 4-inch rolls, split and toasted
- Pickled jalapeños and radishes (recipe below)
- Cilantro (optional)
For the Pickled Jalapeños and Radishes:
- 8 radishes, sliced thin
- 2 small carrots, julienned
- 1/4 small onion, sliced thin
- 2/4 cup oolong tea infusion (from the burger recipe above)
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon natural sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
To Make the Oolong Banh Mi Burgers:
- Steep the tea bags in the hot water for 10 minutes. Remove the bags and discard.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onions and cook until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet. Add the tofu, crushing it with your hand. Stir and cook until the tofu is dried out and is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the tea infusion and cook until it evaporates, about 1 minute. Cool the tofu completely.
- Combine the cooled tofu, cooled onion, gluten, salt, jalapeño, and 6 tablespoons of tea infusion in a medium bowl. Knead until gluten strands form, about 4 minutes. Form the mixture into 6 thin patties, about the size of your rolls.
- Spray a baking sheet with oil, arrange the burgers on a sheet, add 1/4 cup water around the burgers, cover tightly with foil, and bake in a 300°F oven (no need to preheat) for 30 minutes. Uncover, flip the burgers, and continue to bake for another 20 minutes.
- Heat a grill pan over medium heat. Toss the sliced plums with 1 teaspoon oil and grill until tender, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the plums to a large bowl and toss with the brown sugar. Set aside to macerate for 10 minutes. Set aside 6 slices for the burgers and transfer the remaining plums to a personal blender. Blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the burgers until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Add a few tablespoons of sauce to each burger, cook for 1 minute, flip, add more sauce, cook for 1 minute and flip. Cook again for 1 more minute to sear the sauce onto the burgers.
- Make sandwiches by adding a burger to each roll, a grilled plum slice and plenty of pickled veggies. Add a few sprigs of cilantro, if using.
To Make the Pickled Jalapeños and Radishes:
- Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside for at least 15 minutes to pickle. This will keep for up to three days in a covered container in the refrigerator.