Vegan “Crab Cakes”

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This is my only photo of last night’s dinner–vegan “Old Bay Crab Cakes”.  While I forgot to take pictures along the way, I learned about some new ingredients that I thought were worth talking about.  This recipe is another from my “The Conscious Cook” book, but it is also online here.  As you can probably figure out, this recipe uses a mix of seasonings including the Old Bay seasoning in the title to flavor tofu-based cakes that conjure/mimic/taste like? the real thing.

For this dish I had to do some exploring at Whole Foods.  Along with picking up a tin of the Old Bay seasoning I needed to find Nori (seaweed) sheets and nutritional yeast flakes.  If you’re a sushi eater or maker you know about the seaweed.  It comes in a pack like this:

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The recipe calls for toasting it lightly (holding it with tongs) over a gas flame.  It turns from black to green almost instantly and gives off an ocean “fishy” smell.  After it’s toasted you break it up and pulverize it into a powder in a spice grinder. Basically, it’s about creating this “essence of fish” spice.  Pretty clever if you ask me. The yeast flakes are sold in bulk and look like this:

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This is a fascinating and very important ingredient in vegan cooking, both nutritionally (lots of  B-12) and as a binder type thing.  I’ve just begun exploring its many uses.  It is not “live” like the yeast you use to make bread but it smells very aromatically/pungently? yeasty.  I have a very good sense of smell and I could smell that yeasty odor in my car with the yeast bagged and tied and in the trunk area.  In this dish I think it was acting like a binder.

I made these cakes by sautéing some diced carrots, onions and garlic and processing it together with tofu, yeast, cornstarch and lots of spices.  The only change I made to the recipe was to cut the added salt by half since the Old Bay has plenty of salt. After refrigerating the mixture we (David was home by now) formed them into patties, coated them with soy milk and rolled them in a panko/Old Bay blend.  Technically these are supposed to be sautéed rather than fried, but we got a little over-zealous with the oil.  Not the worst thing actually.  We ended up serving them with a wasabi mayo (not vegan) that we happened to have in the fridge and the combination was quite good.  The texture was a little softer in the center than I’d like but I think a little less processing would address that nicely.

Here’s a look at the center of a cake the next day (slated for my lunch):

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These are really yummy, and I am totally amused and, frankly, astonished at how much they remind me of crab cakes.  I had no idea something like this was possible.  Live and learn and learn and learn!

 

 

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