Sunday, June 26, 2011

Vegan Crab Cakes with Sriracha-Vegenaise Dressing

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I really love Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes from her cookbook, Vegan Brunch. The clever use of tempeh in these cakes yields a unique flakiness and texture—and these are perfect to enjoy during the summer months. I make these cakes on the regular during this season, and alway follow Isa's recipe exactly, but today I decided I would experiment with different spices and flavors to see what would happen. These tasted fantastic and paired perfectly with some sriracha-Vegenaise dressing.

8 ounces three-grain tempeh
1/2 small red onion, minced
1 sheet of nori, pulverized into a powder, using a small coffee grinder
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1/2 tsp dill
1 TB sriracha
3 TB Vegenaise
2 TB capers
12 Ritz crackers, smashed (yes, they're vegan!)
1 TB water whisked with 1/2 tsp Ener-G
1 tsp baking powder
chickpea flour, for dusting the cakes
oil for frying
equal parts Vegenaise and sriracha mixed together, for serving

First, break up the tempeh block into about 8 pieces. Place in a steamer basket with a bit of water, cover and steam for about 15 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and mash well with a strong fork.

Add in the next ten ingredients, mixing well. Try making a small patty in your hand—if it molds easily into a patty, you're all set. If not, try adding a few more crackers at a time until the mixture is firm enough to hold a patty shape. Cover and refrigerate for at least three hours.

When you are ready to prepare the cakes, form the mixture into little patties. Set aside.

Fill a small saucepan with enough oil to submerge the cakes. Heat over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes.

Test the oil's readiness but dropping a pinch of the chickpea flour into it—if it bubbles up immediately, your ready to fry. Dust two cakes at a time with some of the chickpea flour and slowly slide them into the oil using a slotted heat-resistant spoon. Fry on each side for about 2 minutes and transfer to paper towels to cool and drain.

Serve with the sriracha-Vegenaise dressing. They even taste great cold as a breakfast the following day, dressing included!


  1. Cool! I've always wanted to try the tempeh crabcakes but tempeh can be quite hard to find here in Sweden. Once I've tracked down a source though, these are definitely on my to do list!

  2. Thanks Fanny! I looked up how to make your own tempeh, but what an overwhelming and demanding project!

    Hope you find some tempeh -- thanks for visiting the blog!

  3. i used to be a huge fan of crabcakes before i became vegan. i definitely want to try these ;)

  4. Blogged at

    You do some first rate work.

  5. Thanks Caitlin. The Old Bay and nori really infuse the tempeh with great [and eerily authentic] seafood flavor!

  6. My sister and I were JUST talking about different ways to use tempeh! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  7. I love vegan crab cakes! Yours look amazing! I like the addition of capers. The sauce with it must be very good. I have never had real crab cakes so I do not know how they are supposed to taste like, but the vegan versions that I ate and made were good, I must try your version next time.

  8. Thanks Elisabeth! The brine and texture of the capers do work nicely in the cakes. I hope you enjoy the recipe!

  9. Looks delish (though i've never been a huge fan of real crab cakes lol). Wonder if you can get away without using the nori?

    I really need to purchase some of her books! Sounds like she knows what she's doing :)

  10. Thanks Jen! I think there are enough flavors here that you could leave out the nori and it would still taste good. I think the orginal recipe calls for kelp granules that would work too.

    Isa's books are all amazing! My copies are all worn out and soft from so much use!

  11. Thanks for dropping by the blog Erin .. I am loving these crab cakes, almond bars, cheese sticks !
    -Richa @ Hobby And More Blog ,
    Hobby And More on Facebook

  12. Thanks Richa ... I can't wait to make your shumai recipe!

  13. Yum! I've never heard of vegan 'crab' cakes but these look delicious and I will have to try it out. Thanks for sharing!

  14. These look SO good. I love the idea of grinding nori for extra flavour!

  15. Wow, these look so GOOD!

    Ha-ha, it's funny, but I TOTALLY understand how good "seafood"ish (or even just savory foods) can be in the morning. Example from my pre-vegan days:

    10 years ago when we went to Florida for my cousin's wedding when I was almost 11 years old, my mom and aunt made a HUGE amount of tuna fish casserole for the wedding feast. Guess what I had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for about a week after the ceremony? ;) I LOVED that stuff!

  16. So happy to finally have the opportunity to make one of your dishes again. This statistics course is kicking my butt and I am not a happy camper. Needless to say, I have not been so kind to my body these past few weeks either, eating junk and not making the time to cook. But tonight I made these, and was very pleasantly surprised. I swear they are totally convincing! I can't wait to make them for my husband when he is done with his juice fast. I know this is going to be a big hit for him and the guys.

    1. I have seen your FB posts with equations and math. It. looks. hard. : ( Good luck with it!

      glad you liked the crabcakes Leila--they are one of my favorites!

  17. What was the difference between your adapation and Isa's original? I want to make it but can't decide which recipe to follow for the first time. Did you find that simmering the tempeh in soy sauce (Isa's version) imparted a lot of flavor? Or was it negligible and that's why you just steamed it. Thanks!

  18. The main things were the addition of Old Bay and Ritz crackers to bind, as well as the sriracha-Mayo sauce. Isa used a few different kinds of spices, but in this recipe, I found that Old Bay and dill worked fine. It's hard to say about the soy sauce in the tempeh! For me, the tempeh functions as purely texture, and the capers add that salty brine in anyway. But those who are more flavor-oriented may feel that the unique saltiness of soy sauce makes a huge difference. Both versions are awesome, and I've made them several times, ending up with a very happy belly. : )

  19. These look great! Since I don't deep fry anything, I'm going to experiment with baking them instead. I found this great rice seasoning that includes nori and sesame seeds at our local Asian Market that works great in my faux fish recipes. I think I'll try it in this recipe, too!


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