Vegan tempeh burger

Love burgers a little too much? Try these tasty patties of Wellness

In his new book, The Wellness Principles, Dr Gary Deng switches processed meats for something quite a bit healthier

In Dr Gary Deng’s book, The Wellness Principles, there are few hard rules. Dr Deng, the Medical Director of Integrative Medicine at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and a Clinical Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, of Cornell University, doesn’t outright ban many foods in his debut cookbook. A little chocolate is fine, in small quantities; if you like ice cream, there are recipes for you; and if you enjoy a teaspoon of sugar in your morning coffee, Dr Deng will not try to stop you from enjoying that either.

He’s even OK with red meat, although he suggests readers limit such meals to just a few times a month. For the occasional burger lover, that's fine, but those whose daily serving of meat comes in a bun, it presents a problem. Fortunately, The Wellness Principes has a couple of solutions. In an endnote below his recipe for grilled portobello mushroom, Dr Deng writes, “portobello mushrooms can be used to make a veggie burger. If you crave a cheeseburger but don’t want to eat meat, fill the mushroom cup with cheese and assemble a burger as if it were a ground beef patty.”

For more ambitious cooks, however, there’s the vegan tempeh burger. Never heard of tempah? Let the good doctor explain. “Tempeh is a firm soybean cake that has gone through a special fermentation process,” he writes beside this recipe. “Because soybeans are very rich in plant protein, the fermentation generates a savoury taste, and the consistency is like a meat patty or grilled chicken, which means tempeh can be used to make a tasty vegan burger. Whole soybeans are used to make tempeh, whereas tofu, another plant-protein-rich soy product, is made of soybean extract. This gives tempeh a more complex nutrient profile than tofu, with more fibre and micronutrients.”

To make four of these burgers you’ll need a couple of packets (8 oz/225 g each) of tempeh, each cut crosswise to create four square patties; a tablespoon of vegan barbecue sauce; a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar; a teaspoon of sugar; an onion, ¼ chopped and ¾ sliced into rings; two tablespoons of canola (rapeseed) oil; four whole-wheat or seeded hamburger buns, split; a Hass avocado, sliced; a beefsteak tomato, sliced; four lettuce leaves; and some fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Love burgers a little too much? Try these tasty patties of Wellness

Dr Gary Deng

First you’ll need to steam the tempah for 15 minutes; if you don’t have a steamer, bring 2 inches (5 cm) of water to a simmer in a large pot. Put the tempeh in a heatproof bowl that will fit in the pot without touching the sides. Steam, covered, over medium heat, also for 15 minutes.

Remove the steamed tempeh and pat dry. Place in a wide, shallow bowl. Add the barbecue sauce, vinegar, sugar, chopped onion, and a tablespoon of the oil and let marinate for another 15 minutes.

While marinating, toast the buns and prepare the vegetables. Heat a large frying pan that can fit all four patties at once over medium heat. When hot, add the remaining tablespoon of oil and the onion rings. Cook over low heat until caramelised. Remove and set aside.

Love burgers a little too much? Try these tasty patties of Wellness

The Wellness Principles

Turn the heat up, and add the tempeh patties. Cook until fragrant and browned on one side. Flip and cook the other side in the same manner. Season the tempeh and onions to taste with salt and pepper. Assemble the burgers, starting with the tempeh patties, followed by the avocado, tomato, lettuce, and onion. For a fuller recipe, as well as much more besides, order a copy of The Wellness Principles here.