Crab cakes on Shabbat?

BY MARGI LENGA KAHN, SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

What if I told you that you could enjoy crab cakes on Shabbat without eating shellfish? Better yet, that you could feast on a hot bowl of chili, stocked full of juicy beef that is very low in fat and cholesterol-free? Or that chicken Parmesan would fit nicely into your vegetarian or vegan diet. Too good to be true? Read on.

On our way home from a hike through Rockwood Reservation one Sunday, my husband Mike and I stopped by the grand opening of Whole Foods in Chesterfield, where we sampled a great spicy chili. The chef, Freddie Holland, explained that the chili was made with a new meat substitute, Match Beef. We were won over from the first bite. Even Mike, who is hardly a fan of tofu, raved.

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I am quite familiar with the variety of meat substitutes on the market. My daughter Kayla, who is now 21, has been a strict vegetarian since age eight. As a result, we’ve eaten our share of Boca products made from soy protein, Quorn products made from mycoprotein (a type of fungi), and a host of other meat substitutes. Some have superior flavor while others win my vote for good texture. Match products are the best combination of both.

Chef Holland explained that Match products come frozen in one-pound packages. He gave us some literature about the products along with the Web site address, (www.matchmeats.com). We bought a pound of Match Crab, curious to try cooking with it at home.

Earlier this month, I made Asian Crab Cakes, adapting a recipe from the Match Web site. In its raw state, the “crab meat” is soft and mixes easily with other ingredients. As it cooks, the Match Crab hardens and more closely resembles the texture of real crab.

As for flavor, we were all pleasantly surprised. My husband, a fan of real crab and a skeptic of all things vegan, gave it two thumbs up. Even my daughter Kayla pronounced these crab cakes “awesome.” So what’s the story behind this superior product?

Match Meats were developed right here in St. Louis.

I contacted Allison Burgess, the creator and president of Match, to learn how this delicious and easy-to-use product was developed.

Ms. Burgess is a St. Louis native and a graduate of Washington University. A few years back, she was between jobs after selling her medical publishing business. Frustrated with the non-meat options offered at restaurants, she began experimenting at home with meats made from plant proteins. Allison explained to me the process that took her from her kitchen experiments to the creation of Match products.

Her product development team included Ph.D.’s in protein research and food technology, nutritionists and nutrition researchers, marketing people, flavorists, and operations professionals.

For the uninitiated, vegan foods contain no animal parts and no products from animals such as eggs, milk, cheese, or honey. By contrast, vegetarian diets can include eggs, dairy, and honey but no meat, fish, or fowl. Match Meats are made from soy and wheat protein and contain no animal products, saturated fats, hormones or antibiotics.

I asked Burgess to explain how her products differ from other meat substitutes:

“Match meats are vegan,” she said. “They are unique in that they are sold by the pound, just as meat, and they cook in recipes just like meat, so there is no substitution or alteration of a standard recipe designed for meat. For example a family recipe for meat loaf or chili or pasta sauce can be readily made with Match meats.”

The Match Web site features recipes and instructional videos on how to cook with the different “meats.” The products are available for purchase at Whole Foods Markets, most Dierberg’s stores, a few Schnuck’s stores, Crown Foods, and The Natural Way stores.

If you would like to sample the products before cooking with them, the newly opened Market at Busch’s Grove, 9160 Clayton Road in Ladue, sells a vegetarian meatloaf and vegetarian chicken salad at their prepared foods counter, using Match products.

When using these meat alternatives, they recommend that you cook in oiled non-stick pans since the product has no fat. (My recipe, below, takes a different approach.) Though all products must be thawed before use, leftovers can be refrozen with no loss in quality. There’s never any waste. Furthermore, you can prepare the raw ingredients for meatballs, crab cakes, meat loaves, and the like, and then you can freeze them for cooking later.

For those of you who keep strictly kosher, there’s good news on the horizon. Burgess is in the process of getting her Match products certified kosher. She hopes to have that process completed before the end of the year.

I have adapted the Match recipe for Asian Crab Cakes and Chipotle Crab Cake Sauce. You could also top the crab cakes with a dollop of tartar sauce, if you prefer. In addition I’ve included my favorite recipe for Asian Slaw, which is a big hit in our house. It would make an excellent accompaniment for the crab cakes. Enjoy!

Asian Crab Cakes

(Adapted from Match Web site)

1 lb. Crab MATCH

1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced

1/4 cup green onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, peeled and minced

1 tbsp. fresh ginger, finely chopped

2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped

2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

3 tbsp. Hoisin sauce (available at most supermarkets in the ethnic foods aisle)

1 tbsp. sesame oil

1 pinch cayenne pepper

Coating:

1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs (available at most supermarkets in the ethnic foods aisle)

2 tbsp. sesame oil, for saut éing

2 tbsp. canola oil, for saut éing

Combine above cake ingredients, excluding breadcrumbs and oils for saut éing. Form into 8-2oz. cakes. Dredge in breadcrumbs. Heat 1/2 the oils on medium heat in a non-stick skillet.* Saut é 4 cakes at a time until golden. Serve hot with a dollop of sauce.

Makes 8 medium crab cakes.

*I fried these crab cakes in a very hot cast iron skillet and used a teaspoon or two more of oil than was called for in the recipe to keep the cakes from sticking to the pan. The crab cakes turned out very crisp and light.

Chipotle Crab Cake Sauce

Stir together in a small bowl:

1/4 cup mayonnaise (or Vegannaise if vegan)

1/4 cup non-fat plain yogurt (if vegan, double the amount of Vegannaise and omit yogurt)

1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped along with 1 tsp. sauce (canned peppers can be found in some grocery stores in the ethnic foods isle or at Global Market on Kirkwood Rd. or at Jay’s International on Grand Avenue).

Leftover sauce may be refrigerated overnight.

Asian Slaw

1 tbsp. soy sauce

1 tbsp. cider vinegar

2 tsp. sesame oil

1 1/2 tsp. minced peeled fresh ginger root

1 1/2 tsp. chili paste (can be found in some grocery store ethnic food aisles or in Asian markets. It’s a great condiment to have on hand and lasts forever when refrigerated.)

1/4 cup peanut butter

1 tsp. sugar

Slaw:

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 medium carrots, scraped and washed and cut into very thin 2-inch strips

1/2 of a small head of green cabbage, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1/2 of a large cucumber, washed, seeded, and cut into thin 2-inch strips

Whisk together all dressing ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Reserve.

For slaw, heat vegetable oil in a large skillet. Add carrots and saut é them for 2 minutes. Add cabbage and continue to saut é the mixture about 4 minutes more, or until cabbage is slightly wilted.

Transfer slaw to a serving bowl, add cucumber strips, and toss with reserved dressing. Serve alongside crab cakes.

Makes 4 servings.

Margi Lenga Kahn is the mother of five and grandmother of one. A cooking instructor at the Kitchen Conservatory, she is currently working to preserve the stories and recipes of heritage cooks. She welcomes your comments and suggestions at [email protected]