Sunday, August 14, 2011

Crab(Free)-Cake Sandwiches

When I stumbled across Laura's recipe for Crab-Free Cakes earlier this week, I immediately knew I had to try it. I’m always looking for shellfish-like meals that I can make at home.

Let me start off with the backstory.....

When I knew I had met “The One”

Mr. Blondie loves shellfish, but has a terrible intolerance to it (didn’t start until he was about 10 years old). Wouldn’t you know the first time I brought him home to meet my parents, my mom made seared scallops.

We’d only been dating for a few weeks and had gone to seafood restaurants before. He can eat fish, just never mentioned he couldn’t have shellfish, so I didn’t know.

My mom put the plates on the table and he didn’t bat an eye. He was too much of gentleman to say anything. How bad could a few scallops be? Certainly not worse than crushing the feelings of his new girlfriend and her mom (We would have been totally fine with him telling us were about to kill him.) It was nothing a few Tums couldn’t fix….

We’ll just say the aftermath was ugly. Our relationship quickly went to a whole other level of intimacy that night. And by that I mean, wiping his forehead with cold washcloths as he lay on the ground wrapped around a wastepaper basket. We wasted no time really getting to know each other.

He endured that all so he could stay in the good graces of me and my parents (and I felt compelled to care for him instead of running the other way, teehee). I knew I had a keeper after that.


So naturally I got the raised eyebrow when I presented this plate of “crab cakes” for dinner. Before disclosing what the cakes were made of, I said "just trust me".

My ugly iPhone pictures don't do these babies justice - Trust me.

Tempeh Crab-Free Cakes
(Borrowed from Sprint2theTable - my substitutions in red)

• 8 oz tempeh
1 C water
• 1 T soy sauce
• 1 T extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp crushed Bay Leaf

3 T light mayo
1 T spicy brown mustard
• 1 T chili garlic sauce
• 1 T red wine vinegar
1 large mild jalapeno- finely chopped
• 1/4 C finely chopped onion
2 Tbsp finely chopped celery
• 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 2 tsp fresh ginger
• 3/4 tsp nutmeg
• 1/2 tsp allspice
• 1/2 tsp dried oregano
• 1/2 tsp celery salt
• fresh black pepper
• 2/3 C whole wheat panko crumbs
• 1/4 C Canola oil (for pan frying)

Break up the tempeh into a small pot. Add the water, soy sauce, oil and crushed bay leaf. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, let boil for 10-12 mins, stirring once, until most of the water evaporates.

Place steamed tempeh into a large mixing bowl. Using a fork, mask until about 50% smooth. Let cool for about 15 mins, until tempeh is lukewarm. Mix dry spices in a separate, small bowl to evenly combine. Add the mayo, mustard, chili sauce, vinegar, bell pepper, lemon, and ginger and stir together. Add the spices and mix well. If you are making ahead, cover and place in refrigerator.

Before frying, add half of the panko to the tempeh mixture. Stir until just combined.

Preheat a thin layer of oil in a heavy bottomed non-stick skillet over medium heat (I tried just using non-stick cooking spray at really need a little oil!)

Pour a remaining 1/3 C of panko onto a plate. Scoop a heaping 2 T of the tempeh batter into your hands and form into a ball. Gently flatten balls between your palms and then dip them into the panko to lightly coat – just a bit for some crunch.

Fry cakes for 4 mins on one side, flipping when dark golden brown. Fry for ~2 mins on the other side and transfer to a crumpled paper towel to drain (crumpling the towel better allows the oil to drain).

Makes 8 cakes (~3-4 servings). Serve cakes in a warm pita pocket with fresh arugula and remoulade sauce.


• 4 T Light Mayo
• 1 T whole grain mustard
• 1 T chili garlic sauce
• 4 tsp capers
• pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix to combine. Can be made ahead.


They were a HUGE hit. We both went back for seconds. Mr. Blondie hates mayonnaise with a passion, and he loved the remoulade on his sandwich too. Win. Win.

Ok, so I may have fibbed a little fib. I casually stated the Cakes were made of Tempeh after we started eating. I got the raised eyebrow again. Tempeh? I said it was a grain. The "S word" is not welcomed in this home. I'll save that bombshell for another time.

This recipe was a little more labor intensive than I anticipated (but oh so worth it). It took me about an hour and a half from start to the end of clean-up. If you’re a not-so-fast sous chef like myself, you may want to do the prep work earlier in the day so all you have to do is fry up the cakes at dinner time.


  1. Wow, neat! I need to make these! I actually have some tempeh in the fridge right now, so maybe even tonight!

  2. I'm intrigued! They sound good. I'll bet I could make up the cakes during nap time and they'd be ready to go for dinner...

  3. I'm so glad you liked them! They definitely do take time, but much of it you can make ahead too (which I definitely did!). Hope you had a great weekend!

  4. These sound fantastic! How sweet of your husband to eat those scallops--at least it brought you together!

  5. Awww...Mr. Blondie is so sweet!

  6. Kristy @ KristyRunsAugust 16, 2011 at 1:07 PM

    What a nice and brave guy!! I almost dismissed this recipe since I don't eat meat, but I"m glad I kept reading! :) They sound awesome!

  7. wow these look so good!!!! must try these!

  8. p.s. I cannot believe that story about your husband!! so cute. Poor guy!