My father, a trained chef with over half a century of culinary experience, has begun to create delicious, plant-based recipes ever since we made Korean-style Gojujang Beyond Meat Lettuce Wraps, which proved to him creating vegan versions could be just as good as the real thing. Now, we're tackling crab cakes in a plant-based way, since we have always loved the summer seafood favorite.

Growth in the Plant-Based Seafood Industry

The plant-based seafood category is still very small compared to plant-based meat, accounting for just 1% of plant-based meat retail sales. Recently, the sector has seen an influx of interest and investment in the past few years, with brands like New Wave Foods having raised multiple rounds to help fund the launch of their algae-based “shrimp”. More recently, after closing a $32 million Series B round earlier this year, Good Catch just announced their new CEO Christine Mei who comes to lead with a wealth of both big CPG leadership and startup advising experience. All in all, the sector is poised for massive growth especially as overfishing challenges continue to come to the forefront of the collective consciousness.

For this recipe, we chose heart of palm as the main ingredient because of its texture, which we thought would be best for imitating that of crab. But beyond its nice stringy consistency, heart of palm is packed with important minerals like potassium, iron and phosphorus, and a  good fiber content.

One of the key differentiators that made our crabless cakes so tasty was undoubtedly the use of hummus as a binder. The cakes themselves held together very well ahead of baking. The Old Bay seasoning is essential for delivering on the flavor that we’ve come to expect from crab cakes. Given Dad’s love for Cajun cooking, we also made generous use of the Cajun seasoning to blacken the crab cakes after they came out of the oven. The skillet crisping is what made all the difference in having a nice crunchy crust to contrast with the chewy nutritious plant-based center. One word to the wise though - watch out when buying Panko breadcrumbs as not all of them are plant-based and we almost made that mistake.

If you’re like me and this is your first time having heart of palm, you will be in for such a treat. I know that I’ll be keeping it around as a pantry essential from here on out for use in salads as well as whenever I decide to make these again in the future!

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Hearts of Palm “Crab” Cakes Cajun Toasted

Ingredients

  • 1 14 oz. can hearts of palm, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup vegan mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup hummus
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • A pinch fine sea salt
  • A pinch freshly cracked black pepper
  • ¼ cup finely chopped green onions
  • 1 cup gluten-free panko (Japanese bread crumbs), divided
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun Seasoning

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Thinly slice hearts of palm lengthwise; cut slices crosswise into 1 1/2-inch length. Transfer to a medium bowl and, using fingers, gently press and break apart into shreds.
  3. In another medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, Hummus, Old Bay seasoning, salt and pepper until well blended. Stir in hearts of palm and green onions until well combined
  4. Sprinkle half the panko over hearts of palm mixture and mix in thoroughly (do not mash). Measure a heaping 2-ounce scoop and form into six patties
  5. Spread the remaining panko in a small dish. Dredge patties in panko, pressing gently to adhere. As they are dredged, place patties on a parchment papered baking sheet, spacing them evenly.
  6. Bake for 8 minutes, turn over and bake another 7 minutes until a light golden brown.
  7. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with Cajun seasoning on both sides.
  8. Placed cakes in a preheated dry flat skillet and pan toast till toasted barely brown.
  9. Serve with a vegan Chipotle Aioli.