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.
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):
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.
Spicy Korean BBQ Sauce
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
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.
Spicy Traditional BBQ Sauce
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
Bring all ingredients to a boil & simmer until thick. 10-15 minutes. Maybe more but not likely.
Vegan BBQ Ribs
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)
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!