Thai Style Tempeh Cakes

Since Mark Bittman actually published a bona fide vegan recipe in the past week's Minimalist column I'm feeling as if we are already changing things. Okay maybe not, and to be honest, I was a little disappointed since I wanted a recipe that would be fun to veganize. But there are no shortage of those in the archives, and only a few weeks ago Mark Bittman published an article on Thai Style Crab Cakes that, given the release of Vegan Brunch just this summer, was dying to be veganized.

The Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes in that book are really awesome, and so delicious with the remoulade sauce. This Thai-inspired variation doesn't have such a distinctive sauce to go with them, but they also don't have pureed shrimp and egg as a binder like Mark Bittman's do.

Thai Tempeh Cakes

8 ounces tempeh (nori tempeh if you like, but I have never seen it for sale)
1 cup water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bay leaf

3 tablespoons vegan mayo
1 tablespoon Asian-style hot sauce (like sriracha)
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons of finely chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons of fine chopped scallions
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs, plus extra for dredging
1 tablespoon of finely chopped nori or kelp granules (only if you want some "ocean" flavor)
peanut oil (sesame would also be fine) for panfrying

Crumble the tempeh into a saucepot with the bay leaf, cover with the water and a tablespoon of soy sauce. Bring to a boil, then boil for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring a few times to make sure it doesn't boil dry. This flavors the tempeh a little bit and takes out some of the supposed bitterness that I never notice. (It occurs to me that the bay leaf might be unnecessary or even unwanted here; we tried them with it and had no complaints but the flavor might clash with the Thai flavors if your palate is more delicate than mine, so leave it out if you want.)

While the tempeh is boiling, mix everything else except for the panko and oil in a bowl. When the tempeh is done, let it cool until warm and then add it to the bowl. It is important to let the tempeh cool before forming the cakes to help them stay together. Mash the tempeh with a fork and mix it all together until incorporated. Add the panko and combine. I would suggest adding it in half cup batches, since when we mixed all of it in the mixture was a little dry and we had to add more vegan mayo to make up for it.

Now form the tempeh mixture into patties. First put some panko into a shallow bowl, and then take about a 1/4 cup scoop of mixture. Using your hands, form it into a round patty shape about a quarter of an inch thick and a couple of inches wide. Then press both sides into the panko. The cakes can be a little crumbly if the mixture is too dry and then they fall apart in the pan, so if they seem too dry, add some more vegenaise.

Once you have finished, heat some peanut oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the cakes in batches, cooking each side until they are a nice golden brown. Don't worry too much if lots of panko falls off and burns in the pan, or if there is some uncooked panko on the sides. Just make sure that they are in the pan long enough to get heated all the way through and crispy.

Serve with more sriracha and soy sauce, or plain. A peanut butter sauce (an easy one to whip up is equal parts peanut butter, soy sauce, and sriracha) would also be delicious.


Susan said...

Lovely! I think this a great theme for MoFo! Veganise away. :)

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