I have been a vegetarian for almost 10 years now, yet I still get the same old “But don’t you miss ___?” interrogations from time to time. Truth is, I don’t really miss anything. I was never a huge fan of meat, despite the fact that I came from a hugely carnivorous family. I’ve never been hunting, even though my father took my sisters on more occasions than I can remember. I would stay home with my mom, watching Cleopatra and painting our toenails.
Fishing, hunting’s aquatic cousin, was also not a favorite hobby of mine. I remember long nights spent on the pier at Goose Island State Park where my oldest sister would fish for hours with my dad. While my middle sister would try to get boys to check her out, my mom and I would perform autopsies on recently caught bait like small fish & squid. A favorite memory was when she turned a fish into a puppet with clear fishing line and would make him talk to passers by.
Even back then, I was never a huge fan of seafood. The only kind I would eat was the bland, white fish that didn’t actually taste like fish (or anything really). You know, like fish sticks or the stuff at Luby’s. The only exceptions were crab cakes and my mom’s salmon patties, which I mostly liked for their crunchy exterior. These chickpea cakes are a nod to those breaded patties, in complete vegan form served with an easy, animal-free tartar sauce!
Chickpea Cakes with Vegan Tartar Sauce
Chickpea Cake Ingredients (organic, when possible):
- 1 can chickpeas, pulsed w/ aquafaba reserved
- 2 tbs aquafaba, save the rest for breading
- 1 tbs vital wheat gluten
- 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs, plus more for breading
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp each dried dill & parsley
- 1/2 tsp mustard powder
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
*You will also need approximately 1 cup each flour, aquafaba, and panko for breading and enough oil (I used olive) to cover at least 1/2 – 1 inch deep in your frying vessel.
Tartar Sauce Ingredients (organic, when possible):
- 1 cup vegan mayo
- 1/3 cup diced dill pickles or relish
- 1/2 tbs white wine vinegar or lemon juice
- 1 tsp yellow mustard
- 1 tsp dried onion flakes
Simply mix all ingredients together and store in the fridge until ready to serve!
Separate the aquafaba from the chickpeas by straining over a bowl and set aside. Place chickpeas in a food processor and pulse a few times to get a chunky consistency. You can alternatively use a fork or potato masher to get a similar texture. Pour into a larger bowl and add remaining ingredients. Use your hands to distribute evenly, then form into 4 equal-sized cakes or patties. Place cakes on a parchment lined plate and put in the freezer for 10 minutes or more. This will make the cakes hold their shape better when you bread & fry them.
Once the cakes are hardened slightly, you will begin the breading process. Pour enough oil to cover at least 1/2 deep in your frying vessel and preheat to medium high. Put the flour, aquafaba, and panko in separate, shallow bowls and season each with salt & pepper.
Dip your cake into the flour first, followed by a dip in aquafaba. I like to follow this by another dip in flour (this will ensure the cake is completely enclosed by your breading), then aquafaba again. Finally, you can dip into the panko and place into the hot oil. Repeat this for all 4 cakes. Fry on either side until golden brown and cooked through. Then place cakes on a paper towel lined plate to soak up excess oil. Serve with tartar sauce & fries! 🙂
I hope you enjoy this fish-free alternative! Remember, fish are friends.. Not Food! 😉