Sep 14, 2014

oolong banh mi burger - vegan mofo chopped

Day 11 #VeganMoFo is brought to you thanks to Vegan MoFo Chopped Edition 2014! Check the deets HERE.

Vegan MoFo Chopped! is similar to Food TV's Chopped! show (HERE), except we get all cruelty-free ingredients and we have a heck of a lot more time to complete the challenge than the show's participants, although, that is partly because we have to procure all our own required food stuffs instead of having them be conveniently supplied by the host.

MoFo Chopped! Cat Chef

Check out these ingredients: (thanks, Jess!)

Oolong Tea 
Fresh Prune Plums

As I am sure many a Chopped! contestant has!?

Since I have this Burger Extravaganza theme this MoFo, my ingredients had to fit into my burger theme, and therefore, I decided early on, no matter what the mystery ingredients turned out to be, my submission would be a Burger.

My offering: Oolong Banh Mi with Grilled Plum Sauce and Pickled Jalapeños and Radishes  .

A quick run-down of my process:

I decided on a banh mi burger because the ingredients are so obviously begging to be banh mi. ( At this point I was wondering just how any Asian dishes there would be. No matter. )

  • I made a tofu-gluten burger infused with oolong tea and minced jalapeños.
  • I pickled jalapeños, radishes, slivers of onion and carrots with vinegar and oolong tea.
  • I grilled plums to add to the burgers and make a sauce to be basting the burgers.

The oolong tea falls somewhere between the strong and bitter black tea and the much milder green tea, so the tea infusion used in the burger itself and the pickling veggies had to be 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 were perfect, especially after grilling, which enhances the plums' sweetness, and after a few minutes of macerating in brown sugar.

Result: Flavorful and delicious; all four of the basket ingredients prominent without overshadowing each other and the burger was as close to perfect as I dare admit.

Oolong Banh Mi Burger with Plum Sauce and Pickled Jalapeños and Radishes
Makes 6 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 ½ a (14-ounce) package) firm tofu, pressed 15 minutes
½ cup vital wheat gluten (stirred before measuring)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 medium jalapeño, minced
4 fresh prune plums (or purple plums), cut into ½-inch slices
1 tablespoon brown sugar
6 (4-inch) rolls, split and toasted
Pickled Jalapeños and Radishes, recipe below
Cilantro, optional
1. Steep the tea bags in the hot water for 10 minutes. Remove the bags and discard.
2. 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.
3. 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 ½ cup of the tea infusion and cook until it evaporates, about 1 minute. Cool the tofu completely.
4 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.
5. Spray a baking sheet with oil, arrange the burgers on a sheet, add ¼ cup water around the burgers, cover tightly with foil and bake in a 300-degree F oven (no need to preheat) for 30 minutes. Uncover, flip the burgers and continue to bake for another 20 minutes.
6. 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.  
6. 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.
7. 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.

Pickled Jalapeños and Radishes
8 radishes, sliced thin
2 small carrots, julienned
¼ small onion, sliced thin
¾ cup oolong tea infusion (from the burger recipe above)
¼ cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon natural sugar
¾ teaspoon sea salt

1. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside for at least 15 minutes to pickle. This will keep for up to 3 days in a covered container in the refrigerator.

© 2014 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.

As promised, the winner of my copy of Vegan without Borders by Robin Roberson is comment number...

out of 47 comments.....

The next giveaway will be on Tuesday because I couldn't host a giveaway for a taco cookbook on any other day besides Tuesday...

anyway, the winner of this giveaway is....

comment number...acording to next time I will be doing this via rafflecopter...heading into the new era, my friends....

the winner is.... number seven, Amelia. You are the winner. Congratulations! I'll be in touch! Thanks to everyone who entered and come back for more mofo fun.


  1. This looks wonderful! Great use of the ingredients!

  2. Wow, not only does this look AMAZING, but you are so creative!
    Adding it to the list of dishes to make once the heat breaks.

  3. Loving that you fit this in with your theme, looks great!

  4. Wow, well done - that looks amazing! I had a bahn mi today from my local vegetarian vietnamese cafe - so good.

  5. This burger looks fantastic! Great use of the ingredients, Zsu! It's also awesome that you were able to work it into your theme. I imagine there are loads of people this weekend eating a lot more oolong tea than they usually do! :)

  6. I am also so impressed with how creative Chopped contestants are! So clever.

  7. Yummmmmmmm this is the perfect combination of these ingredients!!!! LOVE IT!!!!

  8. Wow - props to the unique ingredients on this! Looks so good!!!
    It is definitely not something I would have thought of putting together, but sounds awesome =)

  9. Brillant! I love that the part is more than just fried tofu!


Thanks for your comment! I'll check if it's spam and post if it is not. I appreciate your time and effort for commenting! ~ Zsu