Give Your Tofu The Flavors Of Crab With The Right Seasoning

It's almost trite to say it but what the heck: Tofu is a blank canvas onto which a variety of different flavors can be projected via marinating, rubs, or robust sauces. While some people deride the soy product as being egregiously bland, others enjoy the flexibility tofu affords in regards to creating a wide range of recipes. This is especially true when the food one is trying to approximate is often deeply-seasoned from the outset.

Crab is one such food. Since its natural flavor is sweet and mild, the meat from crab legs is frequently paired with a range of bold spices, herbs, and vegetables that offer complement. So too can tofu be prepared with similar flavors to invite welcome comparisons to the shellfish. Consider the contents of seafood spice blends likeĀ Old Bay, such as celery seed, sweet and smoky paprika, garlic powder, sharp mustard powder, spicy cayenne, and warm spices, like clove, cardamom, and cinnamon. These can all be brought to bear with tofu in a range of preparations, such as a meat-free riff on classic crab cakes. By combining shredded tofu, homemade or store-bought seasoning, and vegetables like celery and onion with bread crumbs, one can make a delightful approximation of the crunchy patties that hit many of the same marks.

Go global with your flavors

That's not to say, though, that the steadfast East Coast seasoning blend for crab and other seafood is the only way to go when imparting flavor to your tofu. Crab is enjoyed in myriad ways the world over, so look beyond these shores for other ideas. Ginger, garlic, lemongrass, cilantro, basil, and more are often used to flavor crab in Southeast Asia. Try any combination of these herbs and aromatics for tofu that has a piquant and vibrant taste that is evocative of crab.

If you prefer a more European angle on tofu in place of crab, go for the bright and herbaceous flavors of lemon and dill. When minced, the fresh herb is pleasantly sour and slightly grassy. Meanwhile, lemon juice and grated zest offer a fruity and tart flavor that works well with seafood and tofu. Add to this a bit of garlic or black pepper if you care to make it a bit more layered with mildly spicy and warm notes. And, if the umami flavor that comes from crab and other meats is something you can't live without, add a bit of nutritional yeast to a marinade or recipe. This flaky powder is loaded with a savory flavor and health benefits making it a great addition to any pantry, vegetarian or not.