“Tofu” and “Flavorful” aren’t two words you often hear together unless there’s a “not” in between them, but these Vegan Salisbury Steaks are about as flavorful as they come. I used my vegan ground meat made from frozen tofu as the base for these because it has a porous texture like cooked ground beef, absorbing flavors like a sponge.
To give these Salisbury Steaks a robust meaty flavor, I took two approaches. The first is a mixture of minced onions, mushrooms and garlic that are sauteed until caramelized. The Maillard Reaction turns these aromatics into a powerhouse of umami that loads the bland tofu up with a bold meaty flavor.
The second source of flavor is from a mixture of vegetable stock, soy sauce, porcini powder and smoked paprika. All these items are filled with umami boosting amino acids. To keep the liquids from leaking out, I mixed in some chia seeds, which not only thickens the liquid, it also helps to bind the crumbly tofu together without adding eggs or flour. As a result, the tofu soaks up the flavorful liquid and then releases the juices with each bite.
After kneading everything together I just shape them into oval patties and fry them until they’re golden brown and crisp. You can also turn this mixture into meatballs or hamburgers just by changing their shape.
I like serving these like Japanese Hamburg Steaks by coating them in a sweet and sour sauce such as my Strawberry Barbecue Sauce, but these are also great with a mushroom gravy, or your favorite steak sauce.
Vegan Salisbury Steak
"Tofu" and "Flavorful" aren't two words you often hear together unless there's a "not" in between them, but these Vegan Salisbury Steaks are about as flavorful as they come. (Recipe Credit: Marc Matsumoto of Fresh Tastes.)
- 21 ounces tofu
- 0.18 ounces garlic (1 medium clove)
- 3.5 ounces onion
- 3.2 ounces maitake mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1/2 cup vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon porcini powder
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Olive oil for frying
- Put the tofu in the freezer and freeze for at least 24 hours. I usually just put them in the freezer as soon as I get them home from the grocery store. That way I always have some on hand when I need it.
- Defrost the tofu. It will be sponge-like, so wash it thoroughly, squeezing and soaking it in fresh water until the water runs clear. Squeeze as much water as you can out of the tofu and place it in a bowl (you should have about 9 ounces of tofu left.
- Put the garlic in a small food processor and pulse to mince. Add the onion and maitake mushrooms and pulse to mince. Add the mixture to a frying pan along with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Saute until they're about 1/3 of the original volume and very fragrant (about 10 minutes).
- While the onions and mushrooms are sauteing, add the chia seeds, vegetable stock, soy sauce, porcini powder and smoked paprika to a bowl and stir to combine.
- When the mushrooms are finished sauteing, add them to the tofu along with the chia seed mixture. Knead very well until the mixture is uniform in color and there are no light spots.
- Shape the mixture into 6 patties.
- Add some olive oil to a frying pan over medium-high heat and then place the patties in the pan. Fry until golden brown and crisp on one side and then flip and fry the second side.
- Serve the Salisbury steaks with your favorite sauce.
Yield: Makes 6 patties
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.