Phytoplankton—it’s what’s for dinner these days. In fact, twice this year I’ve been served the microscopic drifters as part of a fancy meal in a five-star restaurant frequented by such celebs as Natalie Portman, Bill Clinton, and Martha Stewart. My first taste was paired with an oyster to mark the beginning of dining room journey at sea. Its taste, as best I can describe it, was like being swept up in a merciful wave—the perfect complement of fish, brine, and sea foam.
More recently I had the diatoms alongside Maine shrimp and greenhouse greens. In the course of this meal, likewise hosted by Blue Hill at Stone Barns, four fish graced my plate. It was appropriate then, too, that the author of the book “Four Fish,” was seated to my left. In between courses our guest of honor, Paul Greenberg, and Blue Hill chef Dan Barber spoke to a dining room of concerned gastronomes about the way fish is caught and consumed in America. The bottom line: most of us eat too much of it, with little regard for where it comes from. What’s more, there are wiser choices that consumers can make and more sustainable policies to push for (To read Audubon’s review of “Four Fish, The Future of the Last Wild Food,” click here.)
In celebration of Meatless Monday, I searched for a recipe that would pay homage to the sea while keeping me from falling off the wagon on a day wholly devoted to vegetables. A recipe on VegWeb.com fit the bill: Mock crab cakes.
When I make this recipe, I plan to incorporate a few slight tweaks, based on the recommendations offered by vegweb.com readers—additions like scallions, real tartar sauce, and perhaps some mushrooms for stuffing.
If all goes well this dish should offer a taste of “seafood” that still leaves some food in the sea—phytoplankton and all.
7 slices whole wheat bread, broken into large pieces
olive oil, as needed
¾ cup celery, minced
¾ cup white onion, chopped
½ cup carrot, minced
1 small green pepper, minced
¼ cup parsley, chopped
16 ounces firm, regular tofu, pressed
1 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup mayonnaise