Saturday, December 4, 2010

Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes

One of my favorite recipes from Vegan Brunch is actually something I usually eat as a late lunch.  The Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes are so good, there are never any leftovers.  Maybe I also like them because I grew up in a little town called Chesapeake in Virginia.  I don't know, but I do know these babies are so delicious, it'll knock your socks off.


For some reason I was a little bit intimidated when I first saw this in Vegan Brunch.  It's silly to think about that now because they're so easy to make.  I don't know, sometimes when I see a recipe that's recreating a vegan version of something I had never even considered attempting, my brain gets all wonky and can't compute all of a sudden.  These don't taste exactly like crab cakes, but they are a good vegan substitute.

These cakes are moist and full of flavor.  Even if you've never had or never liked the real thing, you should try these.  They're addictive.  Squirt a bit of lemon on them before you eat them and you'll get a nice pop of fresh flavor.  I usually find that I want a bit more of the sauce than the recipe makes so I make about a batch and a half of that.  I'm a bit of a sauce whore, so maybe that's just me.  If you're not, you'll probably be okay with just the regular amount.

I add a bit of dulse flakes to mine because I happen to have a huge never-ending bag of it.  I like the taste of seaweed, but if you don't, then skip that part.  I'm also a bit curious to add some Old Bay Seasoning to these next time I make them.  I remember everyone putting that on seafood of all kinds back in Virginia. I think there were even some Old Bay flavored potato chips.  Those were good.  You definitely can't get that flavor here in Canada.  I have seen some of the seasoning in a couple of places, though.  Mmmm... now I want to make these again.


Isa has the recipe up on the PPK blog, but since my copying and pasting skills are alive and kicking, you could also just read it here.

Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes (Makes 10)

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

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 Vegenaisse
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 teaspooon salt
fresh black pepper
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs, plus extra for dredging
Optional: 1 finely chopped nori sheet or 1 tablespoon kelp granules (I use dulse)

Oil for pan frying

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)

Lemon wedges for serving

First we’re going to steam the tempeh to get the bitterness out and also to infuse some flavor with the soy sauce. Crumble the tempeh into a saucier or small pan 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 to 15 minutes, until most of the water has evaporated. Stir once during boiling.

Transfer contents to a mixing bowl, remove 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 mayo, mustard, hot sauce, vinegar, chopped bell pepper, spices salt and pepper, and mix well. Add the bread crumbs and nori and use your hands to incorporate.

Once you are ready to form the cakes, preheat a thin layer of oil in a heavy bottomed non-stick 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 hands and form into a ball. Flatten between your palms and then roll the sides gently with your hands cupped to smooth them. You should have ten 2 1/2 to 3- inch patties. I do them in batches of five. Press them into the panko to lightly coat. They don’t need to be thoroughly covered, just a little bit for some texture.

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.


  1. I love these tempeh crab cakes. I crumble bits of nori into good! I usually make them right before I fry them, though they'd probably stick together better in the frying pan if I let them cool overnight in the fridge.

  2. I'm a little afraid of tempeh; I've never tried it! Would you say these are a good tempeh starting point?

  3. Tempeh is awesome. I actually love it way more than tofu or seitan. These tempeh cakes don't really taste like tempeh normally does at all, so yes, I think they'd be a great starting point for you if you've never tried it.

    My absolute favorite tempeh recipe is Isa and Terry's Spicy Tempeh and Broccoli Rabe from Veganomicon. So delicious. I usually serve it over quinoa instead of pasta, but either way it's awesome.