We had this meal for dinner, although I think it would be ideal for brunch. The crispy yet light faux crab cakes are made up of mushrooms and chickpeas, with a carefully selected blend of spices to enhance the flavor, and breadcrumbs, aquafaba and vegan mayonnaise to provide the perfect texture. We ate them on a bed of toasted bread, spicy arugula, rich avocado and bright tomato, all covered in a silky, creamy, vegan hollandaise sauce.
If you thought mushrooms were an interesting taste to replace crab, that would only be because you’ve never had lion’s mane mushrooms. Lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) has been used as crab substitute as its delicate flavor and chewy texture have reminded people of crab or lobster. It is a white mushroom, covered in long spikes growing downwards. There is nothing quite like it around- it reminds me of driving down the highway in the winter, and seeing water frozen in action on the rocky cliffs on either side. the spikes seem to cascade down, across and over each other in a cluster on the dead or dying tree it has found a home in. One of the incredible things about this mushroom, is it is easy to identify- although there are around 3 mushrooms, all similar looking, they all fall into the Hericium family, and all are commonly called lion’s mane. Even better for those not inclined to forage, they have been domesticated, and can occasionally be found in farmers markets or stores- I got the ones I used in this recipe from a local farmers market where one of the vendors, Mycoterra Farm, grows and sells lion’s mane along with several other mushrooms.
It is interesting to note that lion’s mane has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine, and as scientists start to explore the medicinal properties of this mushroom the results are promising. Khan et al. summarized the current research in a 2013 review, and found that there was evidence of anti-cancerous, neuro-protective, and cardiovascular health promoting properties, as well as other. Please note if you want to explore this topic further, many of these studies were performed on animal models, and might be upsetting to read.
In continuing the health benefits of this recipe, the luxurious hollandaise sauce included in every bite is far healthier than a traditional hollandaise. Most hollandaise sauce is made of two main ingredients- butter and egg yolk- and both of these are filled with cholesterol and fat. While creating something healthful wasn’t my intent with this sauce, the best way to mimic hollandaise’s silky texture was to use silken tofu, which is fairly low in fat, has no cholesterol and still maintains a high level of protein. I added a little vegan butter, to give it a little of that flavor, but most of the taste come from the lemons, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and just a hint of mustard.
The first step to make the crab cakes is to bake the mushrooms- this will remove a lot of the excess moisture- and then to gently pulse the chickpeas and crab cakes in a food processor. Be careful not to over do it- you want the pieces small enough to easily incorporate with the rest of the ingredients, but not so small that you’ve lost all the texture of the lion’s mane. around 5 pulses of the food processor should get you there. Mix the rest of the ingredients in by hand to avoid blending the mushrooms.
I still have not broken down and bought a ring mold- although I know they’re fairly cheap, I need one far to infrequently to spend even a couple dollars on one. So if you’re like me, you can always use my DIY-ring mold method. I got the idea from a seminar I took on lock picking- we used a pair of scissors and an empty soda can to trick a common master padlock to open (pro tip- your master padlock will not do much to keep others out). I used the same two tools to make my own ring mold. Simply cut out a ring, about 2-3 inches thick, from the can. Please use care, because the edges will be sharp and can cut you. As an extra precaution you can use pliers to fold in the edge of the can, leaving a less dangerous edge.
Use your ring mold, or your soda-can ring mold, to shape patties on wax paper. My recipe made an even 8 patties, each about 1 inch thick. Heat up a skillet- you won’t need any oil, as long as it’s non-stick. Fry each patty for a few minutes on each side, until it is golden and crispy. You can try and do this all at once, or you can do it in batches. If you don’t plan on eating all the patties at once, you can wrap the raw patties individually in plastic wrap, and store in the fridge until you are ready to cook and eat them.
To assemble the final piece, toast your bread and top with arugala (or any other preffered green), avocado, next your “crab” patty, topped with vegan hollandaise, cherry tomatoes and scallions. This patty could, of course, be served many other ways- I would love to hear in the comments about any variations you’ve tried.
Vegan Lion’s Mane Crab Cakes with Hollandaise Sauce
- ¾ lb. of lion’s mane mushroom
- 1 can of chickpeas (use 1 cup of the chickpeas, ¼ cup of the liquid. Use any remaining chickpeas and liquid for other uses).
- ¾ cup of bread crumbs
- ¼ cup vegan mayo
- 1 scallion, chopped
- 2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
- 2 cloves of garlic, diced
- Juice from ½ lemon
- Pinch of salt
- 1 lb. silken tofu
- Juice from 1 ½ lemons
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 3 tbsp. earth balance, or other vegan butter
- 2 tsp. garlic powder
- ½ tsp. mustard powder
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Baguette, sliced and toasted
- Arugula, or other greens
- A large tomato, sliced, or cherry tomatoes cut in half
- Scallions, sliced small for garnish
- Avocado, sliced
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the lion’s mane into pieces about ¼ inch thick, and lay single layered, on a pan coated in olive oil. Cook for 15 minutes, take out of the oven and flip and cook for 15 minutes on the second side.
- While the lion’s mane is cooking, take all the ingredients for the hollandaise and add to a blender, blending until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Set aside. You can also use this time to prep the rest of the vegetables.
- Add the chickpeas and liquid (aquafaba) to a food processor and pulse quickly 5 times. Once the lion’s mane is cooked, remove from the oven and add to the food processor. Pulse an additional 5 times, making sure not to over-process.
- In a large bowl mix the chickpeas and mushrooms with all the other ingredients for the crab cakes. Use a ring mold on wax paper to set up your crab cakes- this recipe should make 8 patties, with a diameter of about 2.5 inches (if you don’t have a ring mold, you can make one like I did out of an aluminum soda can- just watch out for the edges as they can be sharp!).
- Cook the patties in a large skillet, or in batches. You shouldn’t need any oil on the pan. Cook for a couple minutes on each side, until the side has darkened and firmed up.
- Assemble the dish by placing toasted baguette on a plate, followed by arugula, avocado, a crab cake, tomatoes and topped with hollandaise sauce garnished with scallions.