Vegan BBQ Ribs (Seitan) with Spicy Korean or Spicy Traditional BBQ Sauce

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

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Holy.  Fucking.  Shit.

These are so crazy easy & so freaking delicious – I might eat them every day for the rest of my life!  As a kid, BBQ ribs with that red, Chinese BBQ sauce were my favorite food on Earth.  Having given meat up 25 years ago or so – I have often longed for those fuckers but nobody seemed to have any way to replicate them.  Until now!

These will not fool a meat-eater into thinking these are beef or pork but who cares about that?  Not fucking ME.  I was very pleased with myself yesterday – having eaten the entire plate of these spicy wonders and – and sat there wondering why I put off trying to make my own seitan (wheat gluten-based fake meat) for this long.

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This is the brand I bought & I got it at the local health food store.  I am certain Whole Foods & places like Erewhon must also carry it – perhaps even in the bulk items aisle.  If you live in a remote area – buy it online.  But BUY IT!

The rack of 8 ribs I made yesterday took 1 cup of this flour to make – which is only about 500 calories – plus the calories from the BBQ sauce.  Not bad for what feels like an enormous amount of meat because, remember, those ribs you see here are boneless – so that big slab is all eatin’ material.  Plus – it is really enough for two – I just completely lost my shit & shoved these down my gullet like hotdog-eating champion Takeru Kobayashi.  It must have looked obscene (had anyone been here to watch me) and I will admit to a near-sexual level of excitement as I devoured these.  It was madness!  I had become unhinged!  And I write about it now without shame or regret.  Though I still suffer from a haunting, multi-pronged depression-anxiety that clings to me like a sticky burr on a pilly Irish sweater.  So – these ribs, magical as they are, do not cure THIS feeling (photographer unknown):

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Never fear – wine takes at least some of the edge off – if you also feel like that image above.  The combo of wine & these ribs will keep those demons at bay for at least a brief respite.

OK – back to the ribs.  I made two kinds of BBQ sauce yesterday – Korean & traditional.  Both were very spicy but I ended up opting to use the Korean variety on my first faux rib effort.  The Korean one was made in my crock-pot as I hiked.  The other was made stove-top.   I used 2 TBS Gochujang (seen below) in the Korean BBQ sauce but only because I had it.  It is in NO WAY critical to the final outcome.

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Spicy Korean BBQ Sauce

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

3/4 cup low sodium tamari (soy sauce)

1/4 cup water

1 TBS rice vinegar

2 TBS chili paste (sambal oelek or other type)

2 TBS Gochujang (optional)

2 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp ground pepper

1 TBS fresh ginger (minced)

5 garlic cloves – minced

2 TBS cornstarch

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DIRECTIONS

I put everything EXCEPT the cornstarch into a little crock-pot & left it for two hours.  Once it was bubbly – I added 2 TBS cornstarch & whisked it in.  That made the sauce very thick & gooey.  Perfect!  You can do this stove-top by just bringing everything (except cornstarch) to a boil & then whisk in the cornstarch.  It would likely take only a few minutes to come together.

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Spicy Traditional BBQ Sauce

INGREDIENTS

2 cups ketchup

1 cup water

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

5 TBS brown sugar

2 TBS white sugar

1 TBS ground pepper

1 TBS garlic powder

1 TBS onion powder

1 TBS Dijon

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 TBS horseradish

1 TBS lemon juice

1 TBS vegan (or other) Worcestershire sauce

2+ chipotle peppers in adobo (minced) (use more or less to suit your heat tolerance – I used 5)

juice of 1 orange

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DIRECTIONS

Bring all ingredients to a boil & simmer until thick.  10-15 minutes.  Maybe more but not likely.

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Vegan BBQ Ribs

INGREDIENTS

1 cup vital wheat gluten

2 tsp chipotle powder (smoked or not)

1 TBS lemon pepper

1 TBS onion powder

1 TBS garlic powder

1 cup water

2 TBS tahini

2 TBS low sodium tamari (soy sauce)

1-2 drops (DROPS – as this shit is overpowering and gets nasty-tasting fast) – liquid smoke (optional)

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Also – get the barbeque ready.  It is the grilling of these guys that is the magic.  A regular BBQ with charcoals is best.

Mix the wet ingredients (water, tahini, tamari & liquid smoke) in a small bowl.  Set aside.

In a larger bowl – mix the dry ingredients (wheat gluten & spices) and add the wet ingredients.  Mix it up until that gooey hamburger-looking stuff comes together – which happens almost instantly.

Grease a loaf pan & press the seitan into the pan.  Smooth it flat.  Bake it at 350 for about 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven & transfer the seitan to a plate & slather it with the BBQ sauce of your choice.

When your charcoals are ready – flop the seitan, BBQ sauce side down, onto the grill.  Slather lots more BBQ sauce on the other side.

Now just cook this until it looks the way you would want ribs to look.  I took mine off too early & found the “ribs” still not chewy enough to seem like meat so – I cut the slab into ribs and cooked them all a bit more.

And then I commenced the food orgy.  I suggest you do the same!

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54 thoughts on “Vegan BBQ Ribs (Seitan) with Spicy Korean or Spicy Traditional BBQ Sauce

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  5. Hi Christine, I just discovered your blog and OMG, everything looks FREAKING AMAZING!!!!! I had one question about your rib recipe (that I can’t wait to try) Is there anything that you would recommend substituting the tahini paste with ( I’m extremely allergic to anything with sesame in it, a real bummer for me, let me tell you, I mean how can you all of a sudden become allergic to something after eating it for like 30+ years, arggggggg, lol). Any help would be appreciated.

    Thank you

    Jessica

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  6. Also, be careful with Bob’s Red Mill products if you have a severe nut allergy. I had issues with it. We called them and they said they do process tree nuts on their machinery but they did not label their products as such since they felt the trace amounts that might be left after a basic cleaning were not enough to be an issue.
    My epinephrine and I would argue that point.

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  7. I’ve read a lot about gluten not being healthy … gluten in baking, in bread, in all things made of flour. Does anyone have a comment on that aspect of this recipe, and others made from gluten/seitan, etc.? Thanks…just wanting your thoughts, I guess. The ‘ribs’ look so delicious! 🙂

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  8. OMgoodness, I made this today and I was blown away by the explosion of flavor and texture. I was one really happy vegan. Thank you so much for this aaammmmaaazzziingg recipe.

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  9. Just a heads up-guiness is not a vegan beer. Some type of fish body part is used. Not sure if you are vegan, but noticed the beer in photo.

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    • Thank you. Yes – I am aware Guinness is not vegan. I am not yet 100% vegan, either – but I don’t drink Guinness. That was my boyfriend’s beer & I just used it as a prop. Thank you, though, because non-vegan ingredients end up in the most random stuff! It can be very hard to navigate.

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    • Guinness is (or possibly WAS, at this date) clarified using isinglass, which is made from the swim bladder of some species of fish. It’s not that you’re drinking fish guts. It’s a bit like white sugar, which is whitened using bone char–you aren’t actually eating bone. But you are consuming a product that exploited animals in its manufacturing process.

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  10. Hey Christine love the recipe haven’t made any of the sauce but Ive had the opportunity to make the rib-less and they were so yummy now I make them once or twice a week

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  11. Hey boss, this recipe looks fantastic. I’m trying to gradually leave meat behind and plan to use this as a substitute but have yet to find a good recipe that doesn’t make me gag. Just to clarify, after mixing the dry wheat gluten you don’t boil it in broth correct? Straight to the bbq ?

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    • No! Why would you boil it? It would just get soggy. Right from the oven to the grill. Maybe – manage your expectations here. I haven’t eaten ribs since about 1985. So – fake meats really satisfy me. But know – almost all fake meats are to their real counterparts – similar to Diet Coke & Coke. Everyone knows when they are drinking a Diet Coke – but you accept the taste difference to avoid the calories. That kinda thing. No meat eater will ever mistake these vegan ribs for REAL ribs – but they are a tasty & cruelty-free alternative.

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  12. Hi, this looks awesome, I used to run a slow cook bbq pit before I started to follow a whole food plant based diet … and I miss my beef ribs!
    Your recipe looks incredible, thank you for putting it up with all the great pics. Just wondering how many ribs your recipe makes and how many hungry people they will feed?
    Many thanks!
    Mark

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  13. Gonna make these babies for my dim witted flesh eating friends tomorrow. Bet there will be an empty plate afterwards.

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  14. Pingback: Seitan’s ribs – yorkshirevegan

  15. These sound great! I made some seitan ribs about a month ago. They were braised in a BBQ/water liquid, which makes for a very tender…and floppy rib. Funny I saw this today, I just took the last three I made out of the freezer for dinner tonight. Definitely going to have to try these now that I’m all out, and don’t seem to have pinned the recipe I used. I like to call them Fibs. 🙂

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  16. I made these with the Korean BBQ sauce….holy mother of god, they are unbelievable! I cut them in half and put in slider buns and have been eating on them for 3 days. Thank you so much for posting this recipe!!!!

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  17. I made these the other day. Don’t have a grill so I put them under the broiler for a few minutes after I slathered with sauce until they got a little crispy coat in places. Say what you will, but a friend grabbed one not knowing it was Seitan and he absolutely thought they were real ribs!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Lacto-ovo half-asser checking in. These gluten-based savory sauce covered seitan bars look amazing (trying to keep the recipe labels unoffensive to anyone). Making them this weekend for foosball with some potato salad. Thanks for another great recipe.

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  19. There is a restaurant in Denver, CO called City O’City that serves seitan wings and I LOVE them. I’ve been wondering where to get seitan for a bit (or a lot) cheaper than Whole Foods offers it, and didn’t even think about making my own. This is SO amazing! Thank you so much for the recipe, I’m about to go crazy on these wings!

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