Meatless Eats: Mini Crispy Crabless Cakes

As someone who grew up eating fresh, local, wild-caught crab, I may be considered a bit of a crab snob…so when I saw Gardein’s Mini Crispy Crabless Cakes, I was admittedly skeptical. How could a meatless product be anything like a plump, tender crabcake?

I should know, based on previous sampling of Gardein’s products, that anything is possible. And Gardein doesn’t disappoint with this offering!

Out of the bag, the crabcakes were the size of large scallops and nicely breaded. Pan browning is recommended, so that’s the method we employed – and they turned golden brown in just a few minutes, with frequent turning.

The real test, of course, is the taste test. The texture was spot on, and the flavor was actually reminiscent of crabcrake: the herbs and spices didn’t overwhelm the subtle “shellfish” flavor. Trying to figure out what provided the “fishy” or “crabby” flavor, I noticed that DHA algal oil is an ingredient. While my research indicates that at least some people think that algal oil has a neutral flavor, I still suspect that this may, at least in part, be responsible for the suggestion of crab-like flavor (maybe in combination with other yeasts?): after all, seaweed-derived ingredients like kelp powder may be used to help create umami in vegetarian dishes.

These crabless cakes actually had better cohesion than the “real” crabcakes I’ve eaten in the past, but not to the point that they were obviously not crabcake-like. The plumpness really made these a pleasure to bite into, and would doubtless be a crowd-pleaser. I would serve these at a gathering without qualms, knowing guests would enjoy them, and  without worry about shellfish-derived ingredients potentially triggering allergies.

Would these fool a crab aficionado into believing that these are crustacean-based? I’d have to say no, but they’re tasty in their own right. And I really appreciate that when you’ve cooked the product, it looks exactly like it does on the product packaging. I’ve already eaten them again and they’ll be in the regular rotation!

Did you try Gardein’s Mini Crispy Crabless Cakes? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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