The 2 Ingredients You Need To Nail The Texture Of Vegan Crab Cakes

If you think that vegans can't enjoy seafood, think again. While it's true that you'll want to stay away from fishy foods if you're following a plant-based diet, there are plenty of worthy, fish-free substitutes to satisfy your craving. You can use jackfruit instead of sardines, deploy canned artichokes to make a makeshift tuna salad, and cook with two specific vegan ingredients to nail the texture of crab cakes: cans of chickpeas and hearts of palm.

A classic crab cakes recipe uses crab meat (of course) and crushed crackers to give you patties that are crispy on the outside and flaky on the inside. When you pulse chickpeas and hearts of palm in a food processor, you get a mixture with a very similar consistency. Both of these ingredients are moist and have a little bite to them, so they shouldn't become mushy in your patties, but they should provide just enough juiciness. Plus, hearts of palm even look a little like crab meat, since they come in long white stalks that shred easily.

Brine and seaweed bring the flavor in crabby patties sans seafood

While chickpeas and hearts of palm make the perfect base for vegan crab cakes, you'll still need a few more ingredients to pull everything together. Hearts of palm are generally canned with brine, so you're already dipping your toe into salty waters here. But you'll also want some diced seaweed sheets (aka nori) or dulse granules (which are another type of seaweed). To round out your flavor profile, throw some Old Bay seasoning, lemon juice, chopped parsley, minced garlic, and Dijon mustard into the mix. Once you're satisfied with this formula, feel free to experiment a little too. Crab cakes featuring grated zucchini offer ample moisture and texture, while vegan Worcestershire sauce brings a crab cake-like taste and lion's mane mushrooms pack plenty of umami flavor.

To get your chickpeas and hearts of palm ready for the patties, you'll want to pulse the two in the food processor together. Make sure you don't overdo it, since you still want a good amount of texture here. As an alternative, you can slice your hearts of palm diagonally until they look like shredded crab meat. Then you'll want to combine these two with all your other ingredients, plus some panko breadcrumbs, vegan mayo, and a little aquafaba (aka chickpea liquid) if you need some extra moisture.