I’ve wanted to try this recipe for tempeh “crab” cakes from the moment I read it in Isa Moskowitz’s Vegan Brunch cook book. I have the book, so there was just no excuse. It’s the perfect summer dinner, a protein we can eat on a salad. As far a soy proteins go, tempeh is one of the best. Now, you can have crab cakes out of season and no crabs need to be harmed in the making of your dinner. Tempeh crab cakes are a lot less expensive too.
Tempeh, in case you are not familiar with the product, is made from whole soybeans that are cultured and fermented into a cake form. Tempeh is unique in that it’s the only soy food that did not originate in China or Japan, but from Indonesia where it’s a staple source of protein. The fermentation process gives it a higher protein and fiber content than other soy foods. The bacteria used to culture the soybeans produces vitamin B12, which is usually only available in animal products. (although it is unclear if this B12 is bio-available) The soybeans in tempeh are also more digestible as a result of the fermentation process.
You start by crumbling the tempeh and then steaming it in water, soy sauce oil and a bay leaf. This takes out the bitterness and gives it some flavor. I used nori seaweed tempeh to give it a “seafood” flavor. However, I just learned that Wildwood has discontinued making tempeh. Very disappointing! You won’t be able to find seaweed tempeh, but don’t worry about it, you’re going to add a chopped up sheet of nori seaweed later anyway.
When all of the water and soy sauce is absorbed and it has cooled, you mash the tempeh with vegan mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, ginger, oregano, salt, pepper and panko breadcrumbs. The original recipe calls for hot sauce, which I left out. I’m not a fan of the hot sauce, but you can add it if you like. The other ingredient I left out was the bell pepper. I’m allergic to them but if you can eat them, I would recommend adding it. It’s gives them a nice pop of color. Once you mixed everything together, form the mixture into small patties.
Then, press them into some more panko so that they have a nice crispy coating when you fry them.
I served them on a bed of lettuce and pea sprouts with a 1000 island sauce and some fresh lemon wedges.
Tempeh “Crab” Cakes
Adapted from Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes by Isa Moskowitz’s Vegan Brunch
Makes 8-10 cakes - Use organic ingredients whenever possible
1 8 oz package of tempeh
1 cup water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs + extra for dredging
1 finely chopped nori sheet
Oil for frying
Crumble the tempeh into a heavy (cast iron if possible) frying pan.
Add the water, soy sauce, olive oil and bay leaf.
Cover and bring to a boil.
Turn the heat down to medium and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes or until most of the water has boiled off
Remove the bay leaf.
Transfer the tempeh to a mixing bowl and mash with a fork.
Let cool for 15 minutes, or until barely warm, stirring occasionally.
Add vegan mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, bell pepper, ginger, oregano, salt, and pepper.
Add panko crumbs and chopped nori and mix well, your hands work best here.
Form the mixture into 3 inch cakes using about 1/4 cups of the mixture for each cake.
Pour some panko crumbs into a shallow bowl.
Press each cake into the crumbs, lightly coating each side.
Heat some oil in a frying pan on medium heat.
Fry four or five cakes at a time for about 4 minutes
Check to be sure they have browned nicely before turning them over for another 3 or 4 minutes.
Transfer to a paper towel or bag to drain off any extra oil.
Top with sauce and serve with lemon wedges.
For the 1000 Island Sauce:
1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
1/4 cup catsup
1/4 cup pickle relish
Mix all three ingredients together and serve.