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Every word in this dish screams NOT VEGAN: Filipino. Crab. Cake. Omelette. I thought I had to say bye bye to this dish forever. I should have known better that almost anything nowadays could be veganized -including Filipino Crab Cake Omelette. Don’t be mistaken though, Filipino Crab Cake Omelette or “Tortang Alimasag” is neither just crab cake nor just crab omelette! It’s usually enjoyed with a side of rice and ketchup. And just like veganized crab dishes, Vegan Filipino Crab Cake Omelette uses a flakey ingredient called okara.
The Filipino version is different.
An American crab cake doesn’t taste eggy at all, understandably because there are no eggs in it! It’s all sea flavor. You bite it and you taste the sea. I remember having the best vegan crab cakes at an LA restaurant called Crossroads (Veggie Grill‘s crab cakes are also not that bad). The best recipe for vegan crab cakes that I’ve found so far is from “Crazy Sexy Kitchen“. On the other hand, an American crab omelette is mostly eggy, usually eaten as breakfast food. I haven’t tried a vegan version of it yet. Have you? The Filipino Crab Cake Omelette has a bit of both sea taste and eggy taste, plus meaty flavor. After tons of trial and error in the kitchen (hence the delay in my post, sorry!), I’ve found a good balance of all three in my vegan recipe.
Unlikely sides: white rice and ketchup.
If you didn’t grow up in the Philippines, you’ll probably get weirded out by the combo of Filipino Crab Cake Omelette, white rice, and ketchup. Mind you, not just any ketchup, banana ketchup! What can I say, Filipinos love their sweet condiments. I suggest trying this unlikely combo at least once. Maybe you’ll get why it’s a winning combo among Filipinos. If not, you could always have Filipino Crab Cake Omelette with bread, like in a sandwich or burger, or just as is. To me, the Filipino combo of Tortang Alimasag, white rice, and ketchup brings back good old memories of lazy afternoons and my mom serving a hot plate of this combo. Mmm so comforting!
The secret ingredient is Okara.
Okara who? Okara is another name for ground soybeans. You could get okara from making tofu; two awesome results from one process! Recently I made tofu and had tons of okara that I didn’t want to throw away. After all, okara has tons of fiber and calcium. And here’s a secret: It’s the key ingredient in creating a flakey texture for veganizing crab dishes. AND it works wonders in veganizing fish! In fact, you could use okara instead of/aside from coconut shreds in making Vegan Pinangat. Not only you’ll have tofu from making your own tofu, you’ll also have the super versatile okara. Consider it a bonus gift!
Vegan Filipino Crab Cake Omelette (Tortang Alimasag)
Neither just crab cakes nor just crab omelette, Filipino Crab Cake Omelette or Tortang Alimasag is the best of both worlds plus more. Now it could be veganized too using okara or ground soybeans.
Serves: 15 patties
1 tablespoon cooking oil, plus 3-5 tablespoons for frying
4 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed, and minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 medium potato (russet or red), peeled and diced
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 tablespoon chickpea flour
¼ cup water
1 pound medium firm tofu
1½ cup okara (see note below)
4 seaweed nori sheets, pulverized (using a high speed blender or food processor)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
¼ teaspoon black salt aka kala namak
¼ teaspoon sea salt
pinch of Old Bay seasoning
pinch of pepper
Heat medium size pan over medium heat. Once hot enough, pour one tablespoon cooking oil (I used canola). Saute garlic until slightly golden. Follow with onion and tomato. Add a pinch of sea salt to release flavors of the three. Cover pan, checking occasionally to make sure the potatoes won't stick on the pan. If they're beginning to, add a tablespoon of water and mix around then cover again.
Once onion has turned soft and opaque, tomato has turned mushy, and potatoes have softened, turn off heat. Let cool until cool enough to touch (approximately 5 minutes, but then again I have asbestos hands).
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine corn starch, chickpea flour, and water.
In a big bowl, place tofu, nori, and okara. Wash your hands thoroughly then crumble and mix the ingredients using your hands. Add kala namak, sea salt, Old Bay seasoning, and pepper. Mix well.
Once sauteed ingredients are cool enough to touch, transfer to the tofu mixture.
Pour corn starch-chickpea flour mixture one tablespoon at a time. Mix again using your hands. You should have a burger patty-like texture that binds. If not, make more cornstarch-chickpea flour mixture then add one tablespoon at a time. Be careful that you don't over wet the ingredients. Because there are no raw eggs involved, you could taste and add more salt and/or black salt if needed.
Wash hands then heat a medium size pan to medium heat (you could use the same pan you sauteed on as long as it has a non-stick effect. I used a cast iron pan for my second pan).
Pour three tablespoons of oil.
With clean hands, grab a palm-size mixture and form into a patty then place on the pan to fry. Repeat steps until pan is full with patties.
Fry for 5 minutes each side. It's best to flip over using a thin metal spatula so they won't break.
Repeat steps until all patties are fried. Transfer to a serving plate and serve with side of ketchup. Garnish with rosemary (optional).
No okara? No problem. It's mainly there for texture. Just add more tofu to compensate for the portion size. Just remember that you'll lose the flakey texture in your dish without the okara.
If you're familiar with Tortang Alimasag, you know that they're usually served in crab shells. Obviously, I wouldn't want to do that with my vegan recipe. But feel free to get creative with a veganized presentation if you're up for it.
Most ingredients above could be bought at stores like Rainbow Grocery, Whole Foods, Sprouts, etc. But if you're not having luck, I've linked them to amazon.com where you could buy online. These are affiliate links - which means that if you buy the items, Astig Vegan may get a commission. This helps keep Astig Vegan content free. So if you've buying online anyway, you could support Astig Vegan too. Score for both us!
I’m so glad that I didn’t have to give up Filipino Crab Cake Omelette after all. If you haven’t tried it yet, just remember that it’s neither crab cakes nor crab omelette; It’s a combination of both plus more. A taste of sea, a taste of omelette, and a taste of special spices in between. If you’re going for the full Filipino dining experience, try vegan Filipino Crab Cake Omelette with a side of white rice and ketchup. You might be pleasantly surprised! Aside from the sides, the secret to the delight is the flakey texture coming from okara or ground soybeans. It’s the magic behind veganizing crab dishes like Vegan Filipino Crab Cake Omelette or Tortang Alimasag.
Kain na, let’s eat!
Originally published in http://www.astigvegan.com/vegan-filipino-crab-cake-omelete-tortang-alimasag/
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