Vegan Crabcakes Even a Marylander Can Love

Not long ago, I was fortunate enough to meet and receive first-hand advice from “The Conscious Cook” author, Tal Ronnen, during his private visit to Tokyo. Chef Tal mentioned that tempeh was his preferred meat analog, and that the secret for making tempeh flavorful was braising for a really long time.

Although I wanted to try the Old Bay Tofu Cake recipe from Tal’s cookbook, I already had tempeh and all the other ingredients necessary to make the Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes from “Vegan Brunch”.

Following Chef Tal’s advice, I braised the tempeh for about an hour (vs 12-15 minutes in the original recipe). As a result, I noticed the consistency and taste were closer to those of real crab cakes, compared with my previous attempts.

In place of separate spices used in the Vegan Brunch recipe, I substituted a homemade Old Bay seasoning recipe whose authentic taste triggered childhood memories of eating Chesapeake crabs at the seashore!



8 ounces tempeh

1 cup water

1 T soy sauce

1 T olive oil

1 bay leaf

3 T vegan mayonnaise

1 T whole-grain mustard

2 T bay seasoning (see below for recipe, or use original packaged mix)

1 T hot pepper sauce

1 T red wine vinegar

1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper

1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs (preferably whole-wheat)

1 finely chopped nori sheet or 1 T kelp granules

oil for panfrying


Crumble tempeh in a saucepan. Add water, soy sauce, bay leaf, and oil. Cover and bring to a boil, and continue for 1 hour, or until most of water has evaporated, stirring occasionally.

Transfer contents to mixing bowl and mash with a fork. Let cool for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When almost cool, add vegan mayonnaise, mustard, hot pepper sauce, vinegar, bell pepper, and Bay seasoning, and mix well. Add panko and nori (or kelp granules), if using.

Scoop about 1/4 cup batter and form a ball, then flatten and shape into ten 2 1/2-3 inch patties.

Press them into panko to coat lightly, and place 5 patties at-a-time into a skillet preheated with a small amount of oil.

Fry 4 minutes on one side, then flip and fry 2 minutes on the other side, draining on a paper towel when done.

Panfry the second batch of 5 cakes and serve with lemon wedges and remoulade

Remoulade sauce

2 T vegan mayonnaise

1 T whole-grain mustard

1 T hot pepper sauce

2 t capers (drained)


Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.

Bay Seasoning:

2 T bay leaf powder (I ground up several bay leaves in the blender until fine-may take 2-3 minutes)

2 T celery salt

1 T dried mustard

2 t fresh ground black pepper

2 t ground ginger

2 t paprika (smoked paprika, if available)

1 t fresh ground white pepper

1 t ground nutmeg

1 t ground cloves

1 t ground allspice

1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 t ground mace

1/2 t ground cardamon

1/4 t ground cinnamon


Combine all ingredients in a bowl.