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Oct 19, 2000 08:54 AM

Do soy burgers taste good?

  • j

Interesting piece in Slate today: a taste test of meatless burgers found at supermarkets.



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  1. Here in Portland we've been eating Gardenburgers for quite a while (a local guy invented them), and Boca Burgers aren't too disgusting...but all they really do is serve as placeholders for the real get a bit of the burger experience, with bun, condimentia, etc, but as for the flavor of the ersatz burgers sucks.


    3 Replies
    1. re: Jim Dixon

      I think if you're expecting a soy burger to taste like a hamburger, you're bound to be disappointed. There's absolutely no comparison, just as there's no comparison between a turkey burger and a hamburger. But I try to eat soy (or veggie) burgers on their own terms without expecting them to be something else, and I find some of them tasty. There's a spicy black bean veggie burger from Amy's that I like, even if I would never call it nirvana on a bun.

      1. re: Beth
        Frank Language

        Expecting a soy burger to taste like a bloody, gristly hamburger is like expecting carob to taste like chocolate. The only reason I like carob is I never expected it to taste like a "chocolate substitute", and anyone who does is bound to be disappointed.

        In truth, I used to love these "Okara Burgers"; okara is the part of the soybean that's commonly thrown away or fed to animals after the soymilk is pressed out. The guy who used to make these - a small company called Local Tofu - used to be based in West Nyack, NY, but fled these parts after getting mugged making a delivery in Brooklyn. As far as I know, there is a commercial version, but I haven't tried it. Sam's burgers contained flaxseed as well as the okara, meaning eating a few a week kept your colon real clean.

        1. re: Frank Language

          I tried SoyBoy Okara Courage Burgers. Tasty but extremely salty. One thing I liked is that you can pop them in the toaster.

    2. Soy burgers are absolutely vile.

      Veggie burgers, on the other hand, can be tolerable, but if you are gonna go the veggie burger route, you might as well eschew the whole ersatz-burger concept and go with the original veggie sandwich --

      The falafel -- composed of pita bread and stuffed with salad and deep-fried balls of ground legumes (chickpeas is the most common one) and various spices.
      When I was in Israel I practically lived on these things.

      Dont kid yourself by thinking they arent bad for you though -- not only are the felafel balls deep fried but they are doused with tahini sauce, which is a liquidy oily substance that is effectively ground sesame seeds and sesame oil.

      But man do I love em!

      6 Replies
      1. re: Jason Perlow

        Jason, if the deep frying bothers you, for the sake of felafeldom and the lack of a deep fryer, I occasionally make felafel (from mix I get at the Lebanese deli) burgers by baking patties of it in the oven. With the right burger toppings (onion & yogurt sauce and thin slices of tomato and cucumber)and a good solid bun, they can be very good.

        1. re: Betty

          My wife also does it this way, but instead of making burgers she puts the felafel mix into mini-muffin tins and bakes them. Then you can still put it into pita.

          The deep-frying really yeilds the best results though. No really other way to get the crunchiness.

          1. re: Jason Perlow


            Looks like a really good felafel recipe -- nice spice combo.

            Remember that you dont need a deep fryer to deep fry. What we use at home is a wok with a few cups of vegetable oil in it, which is a 50/50 mix of peanut and canola. When you are done frying stuff in the wok, just pour the oil through one of those cheap wire funnel filters into a plastic container and you can re-use it once the burned bits of fried stuff are removed.

            Frying oil can be reused probably 5 or 6 times after it has been used.

            You know it drives me crazy that Israelis and Palestinians manage to eat the same food and yet they cant get along with each other...

            But then again maybe its the source of their conflict. I remember a decade or so ago in a newspaper article when the then prime minister of israel mentioned something about the felafel being the israeli national dish after which Arafat retorted that yet again the israelis were trying to steal yet another one of the Palestinans properties with the felafel... hmmm...

            1. re: Jason Perlow

              For me they are Lebanese, thanks to Sweis's in Oklahoma City. In college we had no idea what they were, we just fell in love with them.

              True you sacrifice crustiness by baking, but sometimes it's just the seasoning and soft insides I crave. Deep-frying for one is not a lot of fun.

              1. re: Betty

                Yeah, its not fun if you get burned, if thats what you mean -- but I think if you take the necessary precautions, frying can be a great experience at home. I mean nothing beats vegetable matter being encased in sputtering hot oil and watching them turn golden brown.

        2. re: Jason Perlow

          A Tie between Moshe's felafel in the Diamond District, Sam's felafel in Liberty Park downtown, and Levy's Naomi felafel in Queens on Main St. in Flushing.

          Just had a Sam's for lunch!