The term “vegan butcher” might sound like an oxymoron, but it is indeed a thing, and it’s a good thing at that. In these shops, you’ll find the same types of foods that you’d be able to get a butcher’s or a deli. But of course, these foods are made the cruelty-free way with plant-based ingredients.
Vegan butchers have been popping up here and there, with the first one in North America being Toronto’s YamChops. Despite living in a vegan friendly area, I don’t have a vegan butcher anywhere near me. Fortunately though, Michael Abramson shares the secrets behind his store’s incredible “meats” in his new cookbook From the Kitchens of YamChops.
In From the Kitchens of YamChops, you’ll learn a variety of techniques to achieve meat-like texture and taste at home, all with fresh and minimally processed ingredients, such as beans, wheat gluten, tofu, mushroom, carrots, coconut, and yes, yams. Recipes include Ba-con 4 Ways, Carrot Lox, Pinto Bean Cutlet, Seitan Loaf, and Plant-Based Chick*n.
Of course, you’ll also find recipes for a variety of different kinds of vegan staples such as veggie burgers and meatballs. There are recipes for “fish” using tofu or hearts of palm, and there’s also a No-Crab Crab Cakes recipe.
I know some people might refer to the foods found in From the Kitchens of YamChops as “fake meat.” I really dislike that term. There’s nothing “fake” about these foods. They’re made from whole food ingredients, and they’re 100% edible. Using the term fake implies that the non-vegan versions of food are the only “legitimate” version, and everything else is a knock-off. The word “meat” comes from the old English word “mete,” which was used to describe anything edible and to differentiate what could be chewed from what could be drunk. So no, omnivores can’t lay claim to the word “meat” and vegan food is most definitely not fake.
Once you’ve made your “meat,” you’ll find plenty of recipes to use them in. There are Fishless Tacos, Hunan Dumplings, and Szechuan Beef. You’ll also find recipes that don’t require pre-making your protein, such as the General Tso’s Tofu and Pulled BBQ Jackfruit and Carrot.
There are plenty of deli staples in From the Kitchens of YamChops too, such as Tunaless Tuna Salad, Eggless Egg Salad, and potato salad. There are recipes for sides, salads, and sauces, as well, and there’s also a chapter devoted to chocolate desserts.
- Step Up to the Plate – Mouthwatering Meatless Mains
- There’s an App for That – Selfie-Worthy Appetizers and Sides
- Ace in the Bowl – Bold Bowls, Broths, and Brews
- It’s Crunch Time! – Remarkable Salads, Slaws, and Dips
- Pour ‘Em on Thick! – Sensational Sauces, Salsas, and Chutneys
- Chocolate – Simple and Simply Scrumptious Chocolate Endings
The first recipe I tried from From the Kitchens of YamChops was the Thai Tofu Burgers. As I mentioned earlier in the week, I’ve been craving Thai food, and I had half a jar of red curry paste on hand.
These burgers do require a little preparation in advance, but they were easy to make, and they were full of flavor. They’re a little squishy, so they might slip out of a bun a little, but they’re so tasty, that I didn’t mind. They’re also great without a bun when served with veggies and a side of brown rice.
If you’re missing all of the deli foods you used to enjoy in your pre-vegan days or if you want to recreate some of your favorite meaty dishes with plant-based ingredients, From the Kitchens of YamChops is the book for you!
Thai Tofu Burgers
- 1 (416-g) block extra firm tofu (see note)
- 2 tablespoon (30 ml) egg replacer mixed with 6 tbsp (88 ml) warm water
- ½ cup (75 g) roasted chopped cashews (unsalted)
- 1 cup (185 g) cooked quinoa
- ½ cup (25 g) panko
- ½ cup (25 g) chopped green onion
- ½ cup (50 g) grated carrot
- 3 tablespoons (45 g) Thai red curry paste
- 2 tablespoons (5 g) chopped fresh basil
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) Sriracha
- 2 teaspoons (4 g) lime zest
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) canola oil
Drain and press the tofu for 15 minutes. Prepare the egg replacer by whisking it with water in a small bowl. Set the mixture aside to rest until needed. Pulse the cashews 3 or 4 times in the food processor. You’re after a medium-fine texture.
Grate the tofu on the large holes of a box grater, or crumble it by hand into a large bowl. Add the cashews, quinoa, panko, green onion and carrot, and mix together well.
Combine the curry paste, basil, Sriracha, lime zest and egg replacer mixture in a small processor and pulse until fully blended together. Add this mixture to the tofu mixture, and with your hands, gently fold the ingredients together until they are fully combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Or, if you’re a really good planner, make this mixture the day before you need it and let it refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
Remove the burger mixture from the fridge and form the burgers. At YamChops, we gently press these burgers in 4-inch (100-mm) patty molds or 2-inch (50-mm) slider molds. You can make them any size you'd like, but just remember to make them at least ½- to ¾-inch (13- to 19-mm)-thick. That said, keep in mind that this is a pretty soft burger before you crisp it, and flipping soft burgers gets harder the bigger they are.
Heat the canola oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. When hot, carefully lower 3 or 4 burgers into the pan. Remember, leave some room to flip! Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the bottom is crispy—because crispy is good, and it also serves to hold these burgers together. Gently flip them over and cook until the second side is crispy, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. When done, place the burgers on a parchment paper lined sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining burgers, adding additional oil as necessary.
Place the sheet pan in the oven and cook the burgers for 12 minutes or until they are heated through.
Note: Always search out non- GMO tofu for tofu recipes. To press tofu, wrap the blocks in a double layer of paper towels. Place the wrapped tofu on a cutting board with a plate or sheet pan on top. Weigh down the tofu by placing 2 or 3 cans (cans of tomatoes or beans work great) on top of the plate or sheet pan and let rest for 15 minutes.
Reprinted with permission from From the Kitchen of YamChops by Michael Abramson, Page Street Publishing Co. 2018.
Other veggie burgers you might enjoy include:
I have a copy of From the Kitchens of YamChops for one lucky reader. Follow the instructions below to enter. U.S residents only, please. Contest ends at midnight on June 12th. Good luck!