Tim loves veggie burgers.  We’d order them all the time in Austin.  After a waitress once stated “its better with bacon,” we made that our standard order.  You’d be surprised how many servers see no issue with a veggie patty plus bacon, I suppose its not an uncommon vice.  What we have learned from countless orders is that veggie burgers come in a wide spectrum of flavors and textures.  There’s the firmer TVP soy-based variety to the soft bean version.  You can get strong umami flavor of grilled mushroom, or a flat, bland paste that makes you extra glad you added bacon.  I’ve had similar results with at-home attempts.  The epic fail of an early Moosewood effort at lentil-walnut burgers to my crown glory of Cook’s Illustrated’s spectacular labor of love burgers I swore I could only make once due to the hours involved (but if you love a vegetarian, I do encourage you to give these a try).

Here in Penang, there’s not much in the way of burgers in general, let alone ones of the veggie persuasion, and I won’t even get started on bacon (its not really a thing here, with the majority of the country eating halal), so at-home will have to do.  And it did (does?).  Tim proclaimed these the best burgers he’s had in Malaysia.  The texture trends toward the looser, but the flavor is complex and deeply satisfying.  The masa harina crust adds a welcome crunch as well as a delicious Mexican note to compliment the chili powder and cumin.  Although we ate these as burgers, I called them patties, as I can see frying up little nuggets to fold inside a tortilla along with some guacamole and red onion to make fantastic tacos.  They will not work on a grill, but the mixture lasts a day or two in the fridge making for an easy indoor dinner.  I like these with avocado, sprouts, tomato and a smear of whole grain mustard.  I am going to go out on a limb here and say these don’t even need bacon.

Note: If you have some masa harina around from your forays with homemade corn tortillas, by all means, use it here.  It really adds something.

Black Bean Patties (adapted from Vegetarian Times)

  • 2 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 3 tsp chili powder (for making chili soup)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 5 stems cilantro
  • 1 egg
  • Salt & Pepper
  • masa harina (or fine cornmeal), for coating
  1. Combine items beans through cilantro in a food processor.  Pulse several times until roughly chopped.  Add egg, salt and pepper to taste and scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Pulse a few more times until mixture comes together, but still has a few chunky bits in it.  Move to a container and refrigerate.
  2. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add a coating of oil to the pan.  Form patties by the heaping large spoonful, coating each side with masa harina.  Fry for a few minutes a side, adding more oil as necessary, until crispy on the outside and heated completely through.  Remove directly to your waiting bun or tortilla, and enjoy.
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