Recently, I met a vegan chef who served me faux crab cakes for lunch — and I was blown away because they tasted amazingly good! They had the texture, flavor, and seasonings reminiscent of real crab cakes I’ve had in the past. I couldn’t believe these crispy crab cakes didn’t actually contain any crab, and that they were made of entirely plant-based ingredients!
One great thing about these crab-less “crab cakes” is that we don’t have to hurt animals to please our taste buds. We can recreate that experience without harming ocean life, which is fast becoming endangered these days. More specifically, many crab populations are at risk of becoming extinct due to overharvest from illegal fishing. A recent World Wildlife Fund (WWF) study has revealed that up to 4 times the legal harvest limit for crabs have entered the global marketplace.
By contrast, these delicious faux crab cakes are made of grated zucchini, and they utilize zucchini crops that are abundantly available — and sustainable!
Flavorful Plant-Based “Crab” Cakes
Ingredients for “Crab” Cakes:
2¼ cups lightly packed fresh soft bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
½ teaspoon dried marjoram
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or use ¼ if you want more heat)
¼ teaspoon dulse flakes or granules — or ¼ teaspoon nori (toasted seaweed), ground coarsely
1 cup firmly packed grated zucchini
½ cup minced onion
3 heaping tablespoons sesame tahini
Ingredients for Breading:
2/3 cup lightly packed fresh soft bread crumbs
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
Plant-Based Crab CakesTo make the cakes, combine 2¼ cups bread crumbs with mustard powder, marjoram, ¼ teaspoon sea salt, cayenne pepper and dulse (or coarsely ground nori) in a large bowl and stir ingredients together. Add the zucchini and onion and gently stir the ingredients together. Add the tahini and, mixing it into the zucchini mixture until completely incorporated. To make the mixture moist, you can add 1 additional tablespoon of tahini, if desired.
To make the breading, combine 2/3 cup bread crumbs with 2 teaspoons olive oil and ¼ teaspoon sea salt in a small bowl and stir. If the bread crumbs appear dry, you can add 1 additional teaspoon of olive oil.
Scoop up ¼ cup of the zucchini mixture and mold it into the shape of a crab cake. Dredged it in the breading mixture making sure to coat both sides thoroughly. Put the cake on the lined baking sheet and gently press down on the cake to compress it a bit and hold the cake together while baking). Repeat the process and form a total of eight cakes.
Cover the cakes loosely with foil and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cakes begin to get golden around the edges. Flip the cakes and replace the foil cover. Bake for 10 to 15 more minutes, or until slightly brown. Remove the foil and bake for another 5 to 7 minutes or until the cakes are crispy and golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven, place it on a trivet or wire rack, and allow to cool for 5 minutes. To serve, use a flat spatula to transfer the cakes onto individual serving plates. Serve with classic cocktail sauce, horseradish mayo, garlic aioli, or your favorite sauce on the side. Garnish with a lemon wedge.