Confession: I’ve never had a real crab cake.
That might not seem weird coming from a vegan, but definitely not weird coming from someone who only went vegan at 24. I’ve also never had shrimp, lobster, mussels or anything of the sort. Good, right? Well, my decision wasn’t really out of virtue or ethics but rather because I have a shellfish allergy. It’s fairly convenient now because when you’re a vegan, having to accommodate an existing allergy sucks! So having an allergy that is somewhat irrelevant to being a vegan? *chef kiss*
But anyway, about crab cakes. The first time Jarrod and I went to New York together, it was highly recommended we go to this fantastic restaurant, Franchia Vegan Cafe. It’s a fantastic, high-end Asian fusion place that is 100% vegan and creates some of the best mock-meats and meat-alternatives I’ve ever tasted.
Jarrod thought it would be a great opportunity for me to try a crab cake, so that’s what we ordered as an app. Well, we both thought they were out of this world, but here’s the thing — Jarrod immediately went into a panic thinking I was going to have a reaction, because he was convinced they had to secretly be the “real deal.”
Nope! Just one talented chef!
I can’t say whether or not these patties taste anything like crab cakes because I’ve never had the real thing, could not have the real thing, and even if I could, would never choose to at this point. My guess is, they don’t taste like “real” crab cakes. But they taste really damn good and have a great mix of tenderness, briny flavour, slight sweetness and the crunch of crackers (not bread crumbs). The base of the cakes is artichokes, and it only takes a few more ingredients for these beauties to come together.
Ocean-friendly krabby patties, makes six
- Gluten-free option*
- Refined sugar-free
- Two 14-oz cans artichoke hearts in brine, drained
- 1/4 cup crushed (vegan-friendly) saltine crackers*
- 1/4 cup+1-3 tbsp flour*
- One yellow onion, diced
- 2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar or vegan brown sugar
- One aquafaba egg**
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 tsp kelp granules (optional)***
* For a gluten-free option, replace the saltines with plain rice crisps. This is the brand I use. If you’re using plain saltines, I’d also recommend you go easy on the added salt, or omit altogether. Also, use any gluten-free flour. I’ve found a one-for-one pre-mixed flour works best, but oat flour or brown rice flour would also work.
** This is equivalent to three TBSP of chickpea brine, either leftover from a can or from the cooking of chickpeas.
*** Kelp granules definitely add a fishy flavour, and while they’re easy to find at health food shops, natural markets and bulk stores, are not readily available at a lot of grocery stores, so feel free to omit for a less “fishy” flavour.
Process the artichokes in a food processor until mushy and flaky, with few solids.
In a large bowl, mix the processed artichokes with the crushed crackers, 1/4 cup of the flour, onions, spices and aquafaba egg. Mix with your hands, adding a few more tablespoons of flour if necessary.
Cover a large pan with high-heat-safe oil warm on a medium heat setting. Once it has reached optimal temperature, add the patties, frying for three to four minutes per side. Remove when golden.
Enjoy with fries or a light salad and any dipping sauce of your choice! (I like a light vegan tartar sauce by simply mixing equal parts vegan mayo and relish). They’re also great on a bun!