One thing I would love to talk about more on this blog about — if given the chance — is the evolution of how I went from an extremely picky eater to a decidedly unadventurous eater and then finally a total food daredevil.
Here’s a short version: Growing up, I had a lot of weird taste and texture sensitivities to food that would seemingly develop overnight, and I’d go from totally loving a food one day to having a terrible aversion to it. The fear, anxiety and embarrassment only made things worse, and I’d be too afraid to even take a bite of something. It certainly made things difficult for my parents for a long time. In high school, I started to outgrow the full-blown aversions, but I definitely didn’t branch out and try a lot of new things. The main reason for this was that I simply hadn’t been exposed to a lot of foods beyond a typical meat and potatoes diet. My town was very French-Canadian and, well, super white. The most diverse food we had was grocery store sushi.
So when I went to university, I decided I would take every opportunity I could to try new food I hadn’t been exposed to. There were so many foods that many of my friends grew up with available down the street that I didn’t try for the first time until I was 19 — like falafel, curry, pho or even pad thai.
I can’t remember where I ate my first pad thai — I think it may have been at Java House, Toronto’s favourite dingy watering hole. I do remember falling instantly in love with the flavours and textures (even though I still only knew how to eat it with a fork). That was when I started to get very into cooking for myself too, so I made pad thai as often as I could.
Of course, this was before the big V-word.
I still make pad thai often enough, but there’s not much of a point in me posting a pad thai recipe — not to self-deprecate, but everyone already has a good pad thai recipe out there.
But pad thai burgers? Hey, there’s a new idea.
I wanted to give these burgers the tangy-yet-sweet spice that made me fall in love with pad thai, a bit of tenderness and a whole lot of crunch. I thought of making them with sticky rice, but I’m still getting used to working with the stuff. So instead I modelled the ingredients after a classic bean burger recipe (which for me always includes beans, some seeds or nuts for crunch, herbs, garlic, etc.). Anyway, the result for us was a delicious, crispy-yet-tender burger, one that can be enjoyed on a fluffy kaiser bun or a crisp and cool leaf of lettuce.
Check it out! Let me know your favourite variation on a veggie burger — I don’t think I ever make the same veggie burger twice!
Pad Thai Burgers
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Yield: Six to eight burgers
Allergen info: Sugar free, soy-free option, gluten-free option
Kitchen tools required: Large bowl, food processor, medium skillet
- One 19 oz can of chickpeas, brine reserved
- 1/2 a medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 375 ml (1 1/2 cups) grated carrots
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) cilantro
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) cashews
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 10-15 ml (2-3 tsp) freshly minced ginger
- 10 ml (2 tsp) sesame oil
- 20 ml (1 tbsp+1 tsp) soy sauce, tamari, or Bragg’s*
- 5 ml (1 tsp) cayenne pepper
- Juice from 1/2 lime
- 250 ml (1 cup) bread crumbs**
- 45 ml (3 tbsp) flour+more as needed
* For a soy-free option, use coconut aminos in place of soy sauce or tamari
** For a gluten-free option, use coarsely crushed puffed rice cereal (ensure unsweetened) and a gluten-free flour (I find oat flour works best in burgers). Ensure the tamari you use is gluten-free.
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
- Sauté your chopped onions and garlic on medium heat for about five minutes or until soft and fragrant.
- In a large food processor, process your cashews until broken into medium chunks (do not over-process or it will turn into cashew butter). Add the chickpeas and continue to pulse until pasty (there should still be partial chunks of chickpeas).
- Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the onions and garlic, carrots, cilantro, ginger and cayenne pepper.
- Add the soy sauce, lime juice, sesame oil and 2-3 tbsp of the chickpea brine (this will act as an “eggy” binder).
- Add the breadcrumbs and flour, adding more if/as needed to make the burgers the state of prisliability and firmness that you like.
- Shape into 6-8 burgers and lay on a medium baking sheet (we use a Sil-Pat, parchment paper is also a good option).
- Bake for 15 minutes on one side, flip and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until crisp and firm but still tender.
Serve how you like it — on a big bun, on a lettuce wrap, or naked if you’re feeling risqué!
PS, I have some surprises coming to the blog soon, so stay tuned!