Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes

  • Makes : 10 cakes

I love the succulent little pieces of tempeh you get when biting into this crisp, flavorful cake. Crab cakes are the inspiration here, although I've never actually had one. I used to spend lots of time in Baltimore, which is famous for its crabs, and back then pollution in the Chesapeake Bay was a big issue. I think it's doing much better now and these cakes are a tribute to it.


For the cakes:

  • 8 ounces tempeh (use the nori tempeh if you can find it, but plain soy tempeh is fine, too)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons Vegenaise
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard (stone-ground Dijon works, too)
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup very finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs, plus extra for dredging
  • 1 finely chopped nori sheet or 1 tablespoon kelp granules (optional, if you like a little fishiness)
  • Oil for panfrying

For the remoulade:

  • 2 tablespoons Vegenaise
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard (stone-ground Dijon works, too)
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 2 teaspoons capers (try not to get too much brine)

For Serving:

  • Lemon wedges


Step 1

Make ahead: Make the entire mixture and the remoulade the night before. In the morning, form into cakes and panfry.

Step 2

First we're going to steam the tempeh to get the bitterness out and also to give it some flavor with the soy sauce. Crumble the tempeh into a saucepan in little bits. Add the water, soy sauce, oil and bay leaf. The tempeh won't be fully submerged, but that's fine. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, let boil for 12 minutes to 15 minutes, until most of the water has evaporated. Stir once during boiling.

Step 3

Transfer contents to a mixing bowl, remove the bay leaf, and mash with a fork. Let cool for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to hasten the cooling process. Make sure the tempeh is barely warm before you proceed, or the cakes may fall apart when you cook them. Add the Veganaise, mustard, hot sauce, vinegar, bell pepper, ginger, oregano, salt, and pepper and mix well. Add the breadcrumbs and nori, if using, and use your hands to incorporate.

Step 4

Once you are ready to form the cakes, preheat a thin layer of oil in a heavy-bottomed nonstick skillet (cast iron is great) over medium heat. Pour a few tablespoons of panko into a bowl. Scoop a little less than 1/4 cup batter into your palms and then roll the sides gently to smooth them. You should have ten 2 1/2-to 3-inch patties. Press them into the panko to lightly coat. They don't need to be thoroughly covered, just a little bit for some texture.

Step 5

Fry a batch of five cakes for 4 minutes on one side and flip when dark golden brown. Fry for 2 minutes on the other side and transfer to a paper towel or paper bag to drain. Do your second batch and in the meantime make your remoulade by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl.

Serve with lemon wedges.

Recipe Source: Vegan Brunch
Reprinted with permission from the author, Isa Chandra Moskowitz.
Photograph © Wanda Embar.

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