Making Crab Cakes from Lion's Mane Mushrooms
Plant-based crab cakes for non-crabby people.
Get the following items together and then come back here. This is wild.
1 half-pound of fresh Lion’s Mane mushroom (I bought mine here, but you find a local source)
1 egg, beaten (maybe two if you have more mushroom than the above)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (Italian seasoned, plain, panko or even crumbled Ritz crackers, it’s all good. Just not too much. You want the mushroom to be the star here.)
1/3 cup mayonnaise (I use Kewpie, but you can make this dish vegan if you use a plant-based mayo)
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. Old Bay Seasoning
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
More lemon juice to loosen the mayo
Pickle relish to taste
Stir all that together until it tastes good. Refrigerate for an hour to let the flavors elope or something.
Round fried egg-shaping mold, or you can just use your hands. I don’t judge.
For my money, crab is proof that the universe loves us and wants us to be happy. Done right, a crab cake should taste primarily of crab, not breadcrumbs. It should melt in your mouth, spreading the message of sweet, briny goodness throughout your palate and your soul. A dab or tartar sauce or remoulade makes it the perfect bite.
As I cut down on animal-based food for health reasons (and for the animals!), I’ve been on a mission to find plant-based substitutes so I don’t feel deprived. Sometimes I’m successful, and sometimes I’m not. That’s fine. I’ll just have to suffer with the hundreds of fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, fungi and spices that are available.
This time I was successful and it was all thanks to a mushroom called Lion’s Mane.
It’s Latin name is Hericium Erinaceus, and it’s a globular, white mushroom that eventually grows “teeth” resembling a mane of sorts. There are some who say that Lion’s Mane can help with memory and certain neurological issues, although I am not an expert and would never say such a thing out loud.
AN IMPORTANT BRINGING-DOWN-THE-ROOM DISCLAIMER: I purchased my Lion’s Mane from a reputable store that grows them on their property. I did not forage these. I hate to sound all scoldy, but never, ever eat a mushroom that you find in the wild without having an expert identify it for you.
OK, now that we’ve gotten all that out of the way, let’s get back to the crab cakes.
How, I hear you saying, do you go from a bizarre-looking tree fungus (Mmm, fungus!) to delicious, mouthwatering cakes that taste strangely just like crab?
Well, first you get your hands on some Lion’s Mane mushroom, the more, the better. If you are in NJ, I highly recommend Smiling Earth farms, the store I linked to above.
Here’s what I scored from Smiling Earth. It was about 2 lbs. total, I believe. The water bottle is for size. They kind of look brainy, don’t they?
Next, you shred them. They pull apart just like crab meat, and we did it with our fingers:
Next, you grab a big bowl, and into that bowl you put the shredded Lion’s Mane. For those who get upset when they cook without a recipe, let’s say you start with a half pound.
Add the other ingredients up to the sauce, and massage all this goodness together until you have what amounts to one, lumpy, gigantic cake. It should hold together so you can shape them into patties. If it’s too loose, add some more breadcrumbs. If it has the consistency of cured concrete, add some more mayo.
Then shape them into patties. I got fancy and used an egg ring, but as I said above, it’s perfectly fine to use your hands, as long as they’re clean. We’re all friends here.
Next, make or buy the tartar sauce. Again, not everything has to be homemade. We’re busy people, and I do not judge if you want to whip out your jar of Hellman’s.
Spread a little oil in a frying pan and heat that baby up over medium-high heat. When the tiniest pinch of the mixture sizzles when you drop it in, the pan is hot enough.
Fry the patties until they are golden brown on each side. No, I don’t know how long that takes. Every oven is different, every crab cake is different. You’ll know when they’re done, trust me.
These are done.
If you want to make a crab cake sandwich, go right ahead. Slap some lettuce, tomato, tartar sauce and a crab cake between two slices of hamburger bun and go to town.
That’s it. From tree fungus to deliciousness. Try it, this will blow your mind.
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