If you’ve ever bitten into a veggie burger, odds are it was a soy patty. And while some taste okay, most of them taste nothing like beef. But really, how can they when they’re made from an ingredient that’s so inherently different from meat?
Horowitz, the executive chef at Ducks Eatery in Manhattan, developed a delicious, plant-based burger for their menu made of cantaloupe. That’s right, cantaloupe. And Horowitz doesn’t want to trick patrons into thinking they’re eating meat.
“The foods I’m making should be their own thing, not try to [completely] mimic meat,” Chef Horowitz explained.
Instead, the chef — who’s also launching a kelp-based “jerky” later this month — wants to change the way people think about vegan dishes.
“Let’s make something new with these foods and make it as accessible to people as possible,” he said. “I’d love to be able to go to the grocery store and see beef steaks and salmon steaks and watermelon steaks right next to each other.”
The cantaloupe burger at Ducks Eatery involves more prep than an average beef burger, and take about two days to make. First, the seeds are removed and the cantaloupe flesh is extracted from the rind. Chef Horowitz then prepares the fruit by curing it with salt and ash, which gives off a mineral flavour similar to aged beef, and then places it into a smoker.
After being smoked, the cantaloupe pieces are dehydrated to remove any excess water, and then seared on a grill.
The result? A hearty texture packed with flavour that will satisfy both carnivores and herbivores alike. Each patty is placed on a sesame seed bun and garnished like a traditional meat burger. Although the burger doesn’t taste like meat, it’s incredibly juicy and does have a meat-like texture.
The finished product truly is a glorious masterpiece that’ll make your mouth water:
“Instead of making some Frankenstein-like fake meat burger, I decided to simply use techniques we’ve been using for thousands of years to cook and cure meat… but with vegetables and fruits,” he told us. “It’s exciting to bite into it because it actually explodes with flavor and juiciness as you bite into it. It doesn’t just taste kind of like a burger, it tastes like a really delicious one!”
Cantaloupe burgers highlight the blossoming sector of vegan meals that are more satisfying than a salad or quinoa bowl. And the selection of vegan protein is only going to get better from here.
“For us, it’s just the beginning, as we are developing everything from plant-based hot dogs to… aged prosciutto in a similar way,” said Horowitz. Looks like it’ll be a lot less challenging for vegans to find tasty dinner options in the future.