Love & Vegetables Vegan Crab Cakes: "They Taste a Hell of a Lot Like Crab" (Recipe)

Have you ever heard of mock apple pie?

In The Man Who Ate Everything, Jeffrey Steingarten references an early-19th-century pie recipe that uses smashed Ritz crackers instead of apples. Flavored with cinnamon, sugar, and lemon juice, the crackers taste just like fruit.

Sometimes, seasonings can fool you into thinking you're eating something you're not.

Love & Vegetables' vegan crab cakes can trick you in a similar way. Keith Kalmanowicz and Avril Johnnidis served these cakes at their most recent farm dinner. Spiced with Old Bay seasoning, they taste a hell of a lot like crab.

The recipe combines ground toasted nori with vegan mayonnaise, Old Bay seasoning, and panko breadcrumbs. Love & Vegetables served them with an elaborate scotch bonnet remoulade, but you can also try mixing your favorite hot sauce with mayonnaise for a quick topping.

Vegan Crab Cakes AKA Hearts-Of-Palm Cakes

Makes 8 petite crab cakes


  • 1 sheet nori
  • 1/2 lb fresh hearts of palm
  • 1/4 cup minced shallot
  • 1/4 cup minced red bell pepper
  • 3 tbsp vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 tbsp fine breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp arrowroot starch
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Grape seed oil, for searing

1. Over an electric burner or flame, toast the nori on both sides until crisp and fragrant. Break into pieces and grind in a spice or coffee grinder until very fine.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and drop in the fresh hearts of palm. Boil for 8 minutes then transfer to an ice bath. If the outer husks are still tough, push through the center and remove the inner soft core. Cook the outer husks for an additional 8 minutes, until soft. Remove the hearts of palm from the ice bath and place on a kitchen towel to dry.

3. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add about a tablespoon of oil or water and sauté the minced shallot and red bell pepper until soft and fragrant, about 5 or 7 minutes. Remove from the heat.

4. In a food processor, pulse the shallot mixture and the remaining ingredients (except the panko) until fully combined. Do not over process. The consistency should be similar to that of chunky crab meat. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

5. Scoop out 1/4 cup of mixture and use your hands to form round cakes. Place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and repeat with the remaining mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, or up to overnight.

6. Remove the crab cakes from the refrigerator. In a small bowl, combine the panko crumbs and Old Bay seasoning. Coat each cake with an even layer of crumbs.

7. In a cast iron pan, heat a thin layer of grape seed oil over medium heat. Sear each cake for a few minutes on each side, until the crust is golden brown. Serve warm.

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