January 17, 2021

Crab Cakes Veganized. {Recipe}

Maryland patties made with love in Florida.

Before my move to a completely plant-based, vegan diet, I did love my Maryland steamed crabs and crab cakes. Baltimore gal here—transplanted to Florida almost 14 years ago. However, about 30 years ago, I started getting physically ill from eating shellfish, and without hesitation or regret, I waved goodbye to crabs and shrimp. My full conversion to the world of veganism was over six years now. 

I saw a recipe for vegan crab cakes online, a video, and I clicked to watch it. I enjoyed listening to her, but I was shocked at some of the ingredients she used. Okay, Marylanders could get pretty serious about how to steam a crab, how to make a good crab cake. Crab snobs, I am sorry to say, I was one. Old Bay, a must. Jumbo lump, all shells removed with patience. Minimal ingredients. A mere dusting of bread crumbs, if any.

So, I set out to borrow some of her suggestions and toss the others out the slider. With time and mini-bloopers, I came to like this version below. If you want to see her version, check on Vegan Huggs.

Ingredients and supplies:

All ingredients are organic, your choice. I am cooking for one human, so adjust for the number of eaters. I made six patties from this, some small, and had enough for two days.

Artichoke hearts: I used half of a 7-ounce glass jar of artichoke hearts packed in water.

Chickpeas (garbanzo beans): about half of a 13-ounce container. Remember to drain over a bowl to capture the aquafaba. I transfer most of the liquid and half the chickpeas into a clean glass jar and store in the fridge.

Aquafaba: only need about 3 tablespoons (see above). Start with much less than 3 tablespoons; you have plenty remaining if you need more.

Parsley: I went with fresh; even dried is fine. I grab a bunch, wash, dry, and eye-ball amount to add. Chop off the stems, roll the parsley into a ball and chop away. The remainder, not chopped, makes a lovely garnish for the plate and doubles as a palate cleanser.

Panko: I use small amounts of a gluten-free, vegan brand. Breadcrumbs, broken crackers can also be used. Only a tiny bit. The goal is to help stick the stuff together and not take away any of the awesomeness of the artichoke hearts, chickpeas, and spices.

Mustard: I use whatever is on hand; Dijon is tasty, but, yellow works too. I shake out about a couple of teaspoons; more can be added. I will try this another time with only mustard seeds.

Vegan mayonnaise: optional; good to use if you are avoiding oil. Roughly the same amount as the mustard.

Tamari: I use a low sodium one. A few splashes. Liquid coconut aminos work well if you want no sodium.

Lemon: zest and juice, about ¼; extra wedges for adding flavor after plated.

Spices: Old Bay, kelp, black pepper, salt (optional; if I use any, I use Himalayan salt). I tend to be overly generous here on all, except salt.

Oil: optional, but I have not come up with a good replacement for cooking the patties. Avocado oil works with higher heat and has a neutral taste. If your patties are gooier, you may be able to skip additional oil since the vegan mayo is oil-based.

Misc: Glass bowls for mixing, one large, one small to medium, sharp knife of choice, cutting board (I prefer wooden boards, currently have three bamboo ones, in two different sizes), spatulas, measuring spoons, spoon holder, hand-held human-powered masher, fork for mashing, large sauté pan, serving dishes, towels for drying food, hands, dishes, and, lots of love, and a good sense of humor. I am thinking of checking with a local friend who repurposes items to save them from the landfill. I am going to see if she made any aprons, I never wear them, but it will make me feel more home-based vegan chef-in-training.

Instructions and suggestions:

Remember to mise en place. I learned this term first from Chef Jeremy from the Kripalu Fall 2020 Cooking Live Zoom course. And have now learned it as well from the Forks over Knives basic cooking course run by the chefs at Rouxbe.com. It means to have all the stuff together before you start. I place it in order of use.

1. Drain the chickpeas as noted above. Then rinse them with clean water. Place the amount of drained and rinsed into a small to medium bowl that will fit your masher.

2. Drain the artichoke hearts and place them on a towel and gently blot them to remove excess liquid. It’s okay to leave them a bit damp.

3. Roughly and lovingly chop the artichokes, not too little, I aim for a consistency similar to lump crab meat.

4. Hand mash the chickpeas, I switch over to a fork to get those that missed the masher. You could use a food processor, but I am looking for a decent texture and not a smooth feel.

5. In a large glass bowl, put the following: aquafaba >> mustard >> vegan mayo if using >> lemon juice and zest >> tamari >> dry spices >> parsley >> a small amount of panko. Then toss in the mashed chickpeas and chopped artichoke hearts.

6. Now the magic begins. Gently mix. Rotating the bowl, I rotate the bowl clockwise and mix counter-clockwise. No, I have not had that cooking lesson yet. I am a work-in-progress.

7. How does it look to you? Too dry? Too moist? The former is easiest to fix, add small amounts of any of the liquids from above that you desire. Too moist? Hmm, this one is more challenging to mend, more panko will correct it, but it will lose the entire goal of the good stuff. You could add more chickpeas, which means back to mashing.

8. Cover the bowl and either place it in the freezer for about 20 minutes or in the fridge for a couple of hours.

9. Wash all the dirty items, you probably accumulated quite a sink and counter full. Dry, put away, wipe down the countertops, sink and sweep the floor. Smile. Do a little dance to entertain the fur kids, or, your roommate rooster, Solstice. Not mine, Solstice belongs to a friend.

Depending on whether you put them in the freezer or fridge, it’s back to the kitchen and mise en place.

Sauté pan, spatulas (2 for easier flipping), spoon holder, large spoon, oil if using, panko, small plate for panko, serving plates, eating utensils, the filled with love bowl of the Maryland patties to be, parsley, lemon.

10. Preheat the pan for about a minute, oil if using it. With a large spoon or a ¼ measuring cup, scoop out a pattie worth size, using both clean hands with all hand/finger/wrist jewelry removed, form a pattie, lay it on the panko covered plate, and only use enough to hold it together. This step of panko can be eliminated if your mixture is holding together well. This takes practice. Well, for me I have been making this now several times and with each adventure, I use far less panko.

11. Into the hot pan, it goes, make as many as you desire. Cook about 3 to 4 minutes per side depending on thickness. I tend to have very irregularly sized patties. Adds interest to the plate. Guess a vegan cook job in a high-end fancy restaurant is not in the cards for me. Sidebar note: the mixture does well refrigerated for another day or two.

12. I place fresh parsley and lemon wedges on my plate. I will use any greens and microgreens and place the patties on top.

Serve with any sides that sound delicious to you. I have paired this with a cold vegan potato salad, tahini coleslaw, and/or potato and carrot baked sticks (in place of french fries).

Time to find a quiet place to eat, remember to take some time to give a lot of gratitude. Enjoy!

No critters were harmed in the making of this dish. 


Bonus recipe: Spicy Tofu & Cauliflower Pad Thai. {Recipe}

For a whole bunch of delicious recipes, scroll through my author page.


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