Friday, March 11, 2011

Tofu "Crab" Cakes with Lemon Aioli Sauce

This recipe comes from Tal Ronnen's "The Conscious Cook" cookbook. I've been eying this recipe for a little over a year now but never really felt motivated to make it. Wow have I've been missing out! These cakes taste exactly like crab! I was blown away at how similar it mimicked it's taste. I've tried making vegan crab cakes before, by adding kelp powder to tofu but the toasted nori really did do the trick.

I skipped out on the horseradish sauce that the book suggests you make and I substituted it with a fresh lemon aioli sauce. If you would like to keep it simple, traditional tarter sauce would also go well with this. I love this recipe, of course remember to use vegan mayo instead.

If anyone used to be a huge seafood fan, as I used to be, I highly suggest you give this recipe a try!

Lemon Aioli Sauce
* 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 1 Tb chives, minced
* 3 Tb lemon juice
* 1/2 tsp lemon zest
* salt and freshly ground black pepper

Tofu Cakes
* 2 Tb canola oil
* 1/2 cup finely diced onion
* 1/2 cup finely diced carrot
* 2 tsp minced garlic
* 1 sheet nori seaweed
* 2 lbs firm tofu, pressed and drained
* 2 1/2 Tb cornstarch
* 1 Tb Old Bay seasoning
* 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
* 1/2 tsp white pepper
* Juice of 1 lime

Apples and Beets
* 1 beet, washed
* 2 Tb balsamic vinegar
* 1 Fuji apple
* 1 Tb extra virgin olive oil
* sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pan Roasted Summer Vegetables
* 2 Tb extra virgin olive oil
* 1 shallot, minced
* 2 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels ( or frozen, defrosted )
* 1 cup fresh or thawed frozen peas
* 1 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
* 3 large basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
* Freshly ground black pepper

To cook
* 1 cup panko bread crumbs
* 1 1/2 Tb Old Bay seasoning
* sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1 cup plain unsweetened soy milk
* 1/2 cup canola oil, or more if needed

1. To make the lemon aioli sauce, mix all the ingredients together in a medium bowl.

2. To make the tofu cakes : Place a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the oil and heat for 30 seconds. Add the onion and carrots and saute until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Set aside to cool completely.

3. Holding the nori sheet with tongs, toast it by fanning it over a low gas flame or electric burner, being careful not to burn it and turning it so that all of it gets toasted. Grind using a spice or coffee grinder. Alternatively, crumble it as finely as you can with your hands.]

4. Place the onion mixture, nori powder, 1 Tb salt, and the remaining tofu cake ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well combined but still chunky. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

5. Make the apples and beets : Place the beet in a small saucepan. Fill with water to cover and add the vinegar. Bring to a boil and cook until you can easily insert a toothpick into the center, about 25 minutes.

6. Drain and peel the beet. Finely dice the beet and put it in a small bowl. Finely dice the apple and add it to the bowl. Add the oil and salt and pepper to taste; toss to combine. Set aside.

7. Cook the tofu cakes : In a shallow dish, stir together the bread crumbs, Old Bay, and 1 tsp each of salt and pepper. Pour the soy milk into a separate bowl.

8. Using your hands, form 12 small cakes from the tofu mixture.

9. Dip both sides of the tofu cake in the soy milk, then press into the bread crumbs, coating well. Place the cakes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until firm.

10. Place a saute pan over medium high heat. Add the oil and heat for 2 minutes. Working in batches, saute the tofu cakes ( make sure that the oil comes about halfway up the sides of the cakes ) until browned on both sides and heated through, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Remove the cakes to a second baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place in a warm over until you finish all of the cakes.

11. To make the summer vegetables : Place a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and heat for 30 seconds. Add the shallot and saute for 3 minutes.

12. Add the corn and peas and saute for 3 minutes.

13. Add the tomatoes and basil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 2 minutes, until just heated through. Serve hot.

14. Assemble the dish : Scoop a large spoonful of the summer vegetables onto the center of each 6 serving plates. Place two cakes, side by side, on top of the vegetables. Top the cakes with a spoonful of the apples and beets and drizzle with the lemon aioli sauce.


  1. I am going to try this for sure! Thanks a bunch!

  2. These look yummy. I love fake seafood :p

  3. Oh yum! Have you made other recipes from this book? It looks like a good one to add to the collection. Maybe a trip to Powell's today :)

  4. These are beautiful. It looks like a restaurant dish! I have that cookbook; I must try these soon; if they turn out even half as gorgeous as yours, I'll be delighted! :)

  5. WOW!!! We just finished the these and they were out of this world. So delicious! I didn't do the beets and apples or the veggies. We had stir fry and salad and it was so so yummy. The garlic aioli really top it off nicely.

  6. I am so glad to hear you enjoyed them! I just made another batch yesterday too haha : ]

  7. I've never tried a crab cake before so I'm most intrigued with this vegan version! They look perfect.