Tofu Burgers, Asian Style

MAKES: 4 to 6 servings

TIME: 30 minutes

Sea greens add both taste and texture to tofu, which makes a perfect backdrop for a burger with Asian seasonings. Serve these with Steamed Sticky Rice and Sea Slaw. Or for cocktail food, make mini-burgers (or meat balls) to spear with toothpicks and dip in Miso Carrot Sauce with Ginger or Fishless Fish Sauce.

1/4 cup arame or other dark sea green, like kombu or wakame

1 bunch scallions

11/2 pounds firm tofu, patted dry

1/2 cup panko or Fresh Bread Crumbs

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons dark sesame oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 to 3 tablespoons peanut oil or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn

Pour boiling water over the arame and soak for 1 or 2 minutes. Drain well.

Trim the scallions, put in a food processor, and pulse a few times, until minced. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Put about half of the tofu and the arame in the processor (no need to wash it out) and pulse a couple of times, until just crumbled. Add to the mixing bowl.

Put the remaining tofu into the processor and let it run until the tofu is smooth. Add it to the mixing bowl, along with the crumbs, sesame seeds, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Sprinkle with a little salt and lots of pepper and stir well to combine. Form into 4 to 6 patties. Let rest if you have some extra time. (You can make the burger mixture or even shape the burgers up to a day or so in advance. Just cover tightly and refrigerate, then bring everything back to room temperature before cooking.)

Put the oil in a large nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium heat. When hot, use a spatula to slip the burgers into the pan. Cook, undisturbed, until they turn golden and release easily from the pan, about 5 minutes. Flip carefully and cook until done, another 3 to 4 minutes.

Serve on plates with any of the accompaniments listed in Serving Burgers or on buns with the usual burger fixings. Or cool and refrigerate or freeze for later use.

Variations

Tofu-Walnut Burger. Rich and silky: Reduce the tofu to 1 pound and omit the sesame seeds. In Step 2, with the first half of the tofu, add 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or cashews, almonds, or hazelnuts) and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. In Step 3, with the second half of the tofu, add 1/4 cup chopped walnuts and process until smooth. Proceed with the recipe.

Tofu Sesame Burger with Adzuki Beans. Nice reddish brown color and meaty texture: Reduce the amount of tofu to 1 pound. In Step 1, add 1 cup well-drained adzuki beans to the processor with the arame and tofu and pulse a few times until crumbled. Proceed with the recipe.

Tofu-Tempeh Burger. Deeply flavored: Replace 8 ounces of the tofu (about a third) with 8 ounces of tempeh. In Step 2, pulse it in the food processor along with the sea greens and a little bit of the remaining tofu until crumbly. Proceed with the recipe.