A sweet and smoky vegan burger from the new menu at The Big V
Ask a newly converted vegan the thing they miss most about eating meat and chances are, their answer will be “bacon”. The smell and flavour of smoked pork, charred to crisp perfection, is simply inimitable. Or at least we thought it was: enter Big V London, whose house-made maple ‘facon’ is an absolute must for all who visit the stall for their meat-free burger fix—and, according to Jill, “it’s so like bacon! Incredibly so. We make countless rashers a week in our kitchen in Deptford, everybody wants it.”
And that’s not the only smoky, southern-style goodness she’s brought to the stall’s new menu—a revamp that’s seen a conversion from veggie to totally vegan, and the introduction of weekly ‘sausage’ specials. “As part of the new menu, I wanted to come up with a seriously good vegan barbecue burger,” she continues—weeks of experimentation and a whole lot of sauce-making later, and the holy smoke was born. “It started as a one-off special, but it was so popular it’s now a permanent feature of the menu.”
It’s powered by plants; no flavourless, indeterminate meat substitutes here. “A lot of vegan burgers are made with artificial vegetable protein, but we avoid that,” she explains. “We use seitan (wheat gluten), which gives it a very meaty texture, along with mushrooms, onions, and a heavy dose of spices and herbs to really give it that umami flavour.”
Rich and pillowy
Next comes house-made chipotle (vegan) mayo and intense barbecue sauce—“made from scratch, like all of our sauces”—and caramelised onions, topped with smoked vegan cheese “made with coconut oil. The company we get it from definitely does the best vegan cheeses around—it’s amazing, and really adds to the overall barbecue flavour.” Don’t think you’ll miss out on the rich and pillowy goodness of the traditionally buttery brioche, either—for they’ve thought of that too. “We had special vegan brioche created for us.”
Satisfyingly substantial, it’s “sweet and smoky with a fiery kick”.