This vegan version of a traditional crab cake ticks all the boxes! Full of flavor from herbs and dry sherry, they are crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.
Crab cakes have always been popular with family and guests, often served at New Year’s brunch. But this year, I wanted to change things up a bit and offer a vegan version so everyone could enjoy them, and my thoughts turned toward mushrooms.
Just a few changes
I knew I would have to pre-cook the mushrooms since the short frying time would not allow them to cook through, and they would exude too much juice. While my original crab cake recipe called for a pound of cooked crab, I started with a pound and a half of mushrooms to allow for shrinkage and evaporation, and this worked out fine. You can use any type of mushroom you like; I used a mix of crimini and white button mushrooms here.
Whatever size you like
This time around, I formed the cakes into ice-cream scoop size and I made nine. You can also make them smaller for a little two-bite appetizer to pass around. While I fried these, you can also bake them in the oven, just give them a spritz of olive oil first, and bake them at 450 degrees until brown.
Mushroom Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
1 ½ lb. mushrooms of choice, diced
1 tbsp. olive oil, plus more
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1/2 cup finely diced red pepper
1/2 cup finely diced red carrot
1/3 cup dry sherry
1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
1 ½ tsp Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 tsp hot Hungarian paprika
1 ½ tsp. sweet Hungarian paprika
½ tsp salt
Generous grinds of fresh pepper
4 slices fresh whole wheat or whole grain gluten-free bread, divided
Prep all your vegetables so they are ready when you are.
Make the fresh breadcrumbs. I use my small food processor, but you can also use a hand grater. Bread varies greatly in size and volume, but what you are looking for is 3 cups of crumbs.
Heat a large skillet and add 1 tbsp. of olive oil. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring every now and then, over medium high. They will exude a lot of moisture. Continue cooking until the moisture has evaporated and the mushrooms start to sizzle. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in a bowl and set aside.
Wipe out the pan and add another drizzle of oil. Add the onion, red pepper, and carrot. Cook until the carrots are tender, and deglaze with the sherry, and cook until it is absorbed. Place in a bowl and set aside to cool. Note: if you do not use alcohol, you can use a little stock and a tablespoon or two of sherry vinegar here.
In a mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, Old Bay, paprikas, salt and pepper, and cayenne, and mix well. Add the cooled vegetables, 1 cup of the bread crumbs, and mix. Finally, add the mushrooms and mix gently but well. Taste and adjust the seasoning, everything is cooked at this point, so this is what your filling will taste like. If you want them hotter, add a touch more paprika or cayenne, but be careful!
Refrigerate the mixture for a half hour.
Now the fun. Place the remaining 2 cups of crumbs on a sheet of waxed paper or parchment.
Using your standard ice cream scoop (or a 1/3 cup measure) pack the mixture and release into your non-dominant hand. Form into a packed patty. Hovering over the breadcrumbs, sprinkle the top side with crumbs, turn over gently transferring to your other hand, and sprinkle the other side with more crumbs. Press gently, and form again; you want these to be tight. This actually goes pretty fast. Set on a baking sheet. You should make about eight or nine cakes.
Place back in the refrigerator for at least an hour, covered. This is essential! Longer is better. You can make this the night before your brunch and have them ready when your guests arrive and your pan is hot.
To cook, heat up a skillet (cast-iron frying pan) to medium high, add a couple of tablespoons of oil. Fry the cakes three or four at a time, no crowding. Since they are already “cooked” all you need to do is brown them on each side, turning only once. They will be soft, so turn them with care.
You can also bake them in the oven. After their rest, place on a greased baking sheet and drizzle or spray with more olive oil. Bake at 450 until the tops are browned.
Either way, top with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce, below.
Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
This sauce is addicting! You can use it on just about anything from eggs to roasted vegetables. Easily made vegan.
Combine in a food processor or blender:
1 large roasted pepper, jarred is fine
2/3 cup vegan mayonnaise, or mayo of choice
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup minced flat-leafed parsley
1 tsp. honey or maple syrup
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