I considered calling these "Kat's Crabs" but that has too many unseemly implications.
I know it's been a while since i've had a crab cake, but I think i'm still pretty in tune with my taste memories, especially of my favorite foods. Growing up in Virginia (close enough to Maryland to have access to great crab) in a family that loves seafood, crab cakes were definitely one of my favorite dinners.
And I have been craving crab cakes for a while now, but I just wasn't too convinced about using lentils or tofu or okara to replicate the crab. I was at a loss. Lucky for me, I remembered a week or two ago when while looking up a recipe for vegan pulled 'pork' bbq, I learned about Hearts of Palm. I then actually found Hearts of Palm at Whole Foods this past weekend.
So I thought to myself - if it makes good "pulled pork" then I bet it would make great lump crab!
And boy howdy was I right! Hearts of Palm make the best lump crab this side of actual crab meat. Plus, Hearts of Palm have a slighty briney taste to them (from the citric acid they're soaked in I think) like crab although sometimes the brineyness can be overwhelming, and actually make them less crab-tasting, so you may want to soak and rinse well with water prior to using to avoid that problem. They're low in calories and fat to boot. Not to mention having a spot-on texture. Really. I could rave about this all day long.
Kat's Vegan Crabcakes
1 Can Hearts of Palm (about 8 pieces)
1/4 Cup Carrot (finely chopped)
1/4 Cup Celery (finely chopped or minced)
1/4 Cup Onion (finely chopped or minced)
1 Cup Panko bread crumbs (to go into the crab cake mixture)
1/4 Cup Panko bread crumbs (for the outside fo the cakes)
1/2 tsp Mustard Powder
1 tsp Dill
1 tsp Parsley
2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
2 TBSP Veganaise
1. Preheat the oven to 350
2. Open your can of Hearts of Palm. Soak the pieces of Hearts of Palm in cold water for 10 minutes and then rinse two or 3 times. This is to remove most of the citric acid from them. We want them to be a touch briney, not totally vinegary :)
Now pull out each piece and slice it in half the long way. Or you can just stick your fingers in it and pry it apart. Basically, you want to open it so that you can pull out the tender insides, which should shred easily in your hands. Then rip or slice the rest (the outer area) into small chunks. If you have some stringy sheet-like bits that you don't feel are crab-like enough, save them and use them as-is in a salad. It's wonderful.
3. Now you should have a pile of shredded Hearts of Palm as well as some small chunks. Throw into a skillet with NO OIL along with the carrot, onion, and celery.
4. Cook over medium-high heat for about 10-15 minutes. You want the Hearts of Palm to be tender and not at all crunchy. We're going for crabmeat consistency.
5. Once the Hearts of Palm mixture is cooked and tender, remove from heat and dump the mixture into a mixing bowl. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
6. Add your spices, veganaise, and 1 Cup of panko bread crumbs to the bowl and stir and mix thoroughly. Sniff and taste, and if desired add 1/2 to 1 tsp of each spice/seasoning. Also, if you really like your crab cakes to taste like Old Bay, you can add more to taste.
Here is what mine looked like in the bowl after mixing:
7. Now use your hands to shape into patties about 2-3 inches in diameter and about 1 inch thick. Pour about 1/4 cup of panko bread crumbs in a shallow dish.
8. Dip both sides of each patty in the bread crumbs and place on a non-stick baking pan.
Here are mine, ready to go in the oven:
9. Bake in the oven at 350 for 15-20 minutes. Flip each patty and bake for another 15-20 minutes.
10. Remove, cool, and enjoy. I put ketchup on my place but they were so perfect and delicious as they were that I didn't wind up using it for fear of tarnishing the taste. If you want, sprinkle a little extra Old Bay on the top of each crab cake prior to serving or eating.
I can't rave about these enough. When I smell them my mouth waters and it takes all my self control to not devour them on the spot. It was very hard to save some for my lunch today, but I managed. I failed at saving any for Abigail though (sorry, love!) but it will provide an excuse to make it again soon.