Sunday, December 26, 2010

Tempeh Crab Cakes

I have no idea what a crab cake tastes like, but this was pretty delicious.  Moist on the inside and crispy on the outside, the dominant flavors are the mushroominess of tempeh, the acidity and pungency of mustard and vinegar, and the slight fishiness of nori.  Easy to prepare ahead of time except for the final frying, these would make a good party food or appetizer.

I didn't have bread crumbs, so I substituted 3/4 c flour for the 1 1/2 c bread crumbs in the cakes, and coated them in cornmel instead of more bread crumbs.

Vegenaise freaks me out, and I would not have used it if someone hadn't given me a jar when she left town, but feel free to leave it out.  It's weird, just like dairy-egg mayo.

I also wasn't sure what "hot sauce" in the original recipe meant, so I used rooster paste, but use cautiously as it's very spicy.

Update, 1/3/11: These actually froze really well; because they were so small they were easy to defrost and reheat by baking at 450 for 5-10 minutes.  They stayed crispy and moist and everything.  Also, I thought plain Vegenaise (if you can handle how weirdly exactly like mayo it is) actually made a much better accompaniment than the vinegary remoulade.

Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes
(from the PPK blog)

for the cakes:
8 oz tempeh 
1 c water
1 TB soy sauce
1 TB olive oil
1 bay leaf
3 TB Vegenaise
1 TB whole grain mustard (stone ground Dijon works, too)
1 TB hot sauce (I used rooster paste)
1 TB red wine vinegar
1/4 c very finely chopped red bell pepper (I used roasted peppers from a jar)
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
fresh black pepper
1 finely chopped nori sheet 
3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/3 c cornmeal
oil for pan frying
for the remoulade:
2 TB Vegenaise
1 TB whole grain mustard  (stone ground dijon works, too)
1 TB hot sauce (again, rooster paste)
2 tsp capers (try not to get too much brine)
lemon wedges for serving

1. Crumble the tempeh into a small saucepan. Add the water, soy sauce, oil and bay leaf. The tempeh won’t be fully submerged, but that’s fine. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, let boil for 12 to 15 minutes, until most of the water has evaporated. Stir once during boiling.
2. Transfer contents to a mixing bowl, remove bay leaf, and mash with a fork. Let cool for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to hasten the cooling process. Make sure the tempeh is barely warm before you proceed, or the cakes may fall apart when you cook them. Add the mayo, mustard, hot sauce, vinegar, chopped bell pepper, spices salt and pepper, and mix well. Add the nori and flour, and use your hands to incorporate.
3. Once you are ready to form the cakes, preheat a thin layer of oil in a heavy bottomed non-stick skillet (cast iron is great) over medium heat. Pour a few tablespoons of cornmeal into a bowl. Scoop a little less than 1/4 cup batter into your hands and form into a ball. Flatten between your palms and then roll the sides gently with your hands cupped to smooth them. You should have ten 2 1/2 to 3- inch patties; mine were a bit smaller and I ended up with 15. Press them into the cornmeal to lightly coat. They don’t need to be thoroughly covered, just a little bit for some texture.
4. Fry a batch for 4 minutes on one side and flip when dark golden brown. Fry for 2 minutes on the other side and transfer to a paper towel or paper bag to drain. Do your second batch and in the meantime make your remoulade by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl.
5. Serve with remoulade (or just a dollop of vegenaise?) and lemon wedges.  Makes about 10-15 cakes, depending on size.


And... I made this the other night when I realized I had to make and eat dinner and be out the door in twenty minutes.  I thawed a Chick Patty from this summer, sliced it up, and ate it on top of some Italian pasta
 tossed with the special olive oil that Julia also brought me from Italy.  And I defrosted some frozen peas.  It was a fast dinner.

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