All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016
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One of my all-time favorite foods, since childhood, is BBQ ribs – especially of the Chinese variety. Sticky, sweet & chewy – just delicious. I lived above a Chinese take-out while I was in high school & smelled this shit cooking every day & never tired of it. Even as the grease filled the air & I could feel my skin breaking out – I still craved these all the time – even if I only let myself have them on special occasions – mainly because I perceived them as extremely fattening and bad for you.
Then I gave up meat in the eighties & all ribs of all varieties fell forever from my diet.
Still – I craved that BBQ sauce & would have my mother send me the Ah-So Sauce (below) – a brand not available in Los Angeles – and I would stir it into rice or dip vegetables in it. It was not nearly as satisfying as ribs but I learned to live with it.
Chinese BBQ pork is called Char Siu. Lee Kum Kee brand is widely available & certainly available online. I saw this jar on a shelf & a great idea popped into my mind. Why not make BBQ pork using Beyond Meat vegan chicken? Why not, indeed! Their chicken strips have a texture that can be experienced as chicken OR pork – as pork & chicken really do have a very similar quality. And – I also decided to make the Char Siu sauce from scratch. The ingredients are not terribly exotic & can certainly be purchased online – if your local ethnic or regular grocery stores don’t have them all. The result was visually vibrant & the flavor is dead on. I recommend this dish very highly! You could also chop these “ribs” up & make a pork fried rice that would feel even the most deenerate carnivore.
I marinated the chicken overnight (in the bag) but that is totally unnecessary. You can whip these up in ten minutes & feel all take-out Chinese-y & get your late night, OMG-I-drank-too-much experience right in the comfort of your own kitchen.
Vegan Char Siu or Chinese BBQ Pork Ribs
Serves 2 as an appetizer – double the marinade recipe if you like lots of BBQ sauce on your ribs
9-12 oz vegan chicken (or seitan strips)
1/2 tsp Chinese 5 Spice
2 TBS agave nectar
2 TBS Shao Xing Chinese rice wine
1 TBS hoisin sauce
1 TBS Thai chili sauce
1 TBS dark soy sauce
2 tsp vegan oyster or mushroom-flavored sauce
2 tsp molasses
1 TBS minced garlic
1 TBS sesame oil
1 tsp red food coloring (critical for the fiery red color)
GARNISH (optional) – sliced scallions or green garlic
Blend all the ingredients together & then add the chicken. Marinate for a few minutes – or overnight. I did this right in the Beyond Meat packaging.
When you are ready to cook them – heat a pan treated with cooking spray. Add the MARINADE first & heat until it bubbles. Add the chicken & cook, on high, turning often. The idea is to let them get a bit blackened. The sauce will thicken very quickly – which is why I suggesting doubling the marinade recipe if you like lots of sticky BBQ sauce. You could even heat part of the marinade in a separate pan & pour it over your finished ribs.