Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Ribbed for Your Pleasure

Ever so long ago, I tried out a vegan rib recipe that was floating around on the internet. The problem was that I thought I'd accidentally bought the wrong vital wheat gluten--I had bought the flour, and the recipe called for what I assumed was straight wheat gluten. Lo and behold, just the other day I realized that these two things are one and the same. (See The Cook's Thesaurus for more.) Apparently I'm not the only one who didn't realize this, otherwise when I posted that recipe, someone would've corrected my dumb ass.

So, please take note:

Vital wheat gluten flour = vital wheat gluten.

Woot fricking-belated woot.

Anyways, since I'd bought some vital wheat gluten to make ye infamous Seitan o' Greatness, I decided to try making ribz again.

I stumbled across another recipe on-line that used tahini instead of peanut butter which I also thought was intriguing. But the basics of the recipe were different as well, and I knew that I wanted to try out the ORIGINAL ribz recipe that I'd originally botched up in my vital wheat gluten confusion.

So I decided to play with my ribz.

I used the basic recipe that I'd botched up before (but did it correctly this time). And I tried out three variations on what I'd poke into the ribz. The standard recipe calls for you to smoosh a peanut-butter/margarine concoction into these delicious numblies. Tasty, but not so good calorie-wise. So with that in mind, and with the tahini-variation also haunting my brain, I decided to "baste" the ribz the following ways:
  1. With a peanut-butter/margarine mix;

  2. With tahini; and

  3. With absolutely nothing at all (to see if they were just as good low-fat).

You can see the three variations in this before pic. The ones furthest to the left are the PB, the middle are plain, and the ones on the right are tahini:

The end result? I liked them all! Damnation. I kept trying each one to see if I preferred one out of the three, and I could not decide for the life of me. Quite honestly, the ribz recipe hinges on the BBQ you choose to use, at it is the predominant flavor in the dish. But you *CAN* still taste what you choose to "baste" them in slightly, albeit very slightly. Truth be told though, because the BBQ sauce is the overriding flavor, you could easily get away with leaving out the peanut-butter/tahini and it won't really be that noticeable. Plus, it'll be MUCH more healthy for you. But both the tahini and the PB-mix *DO* add a bit off oomph, though not one of absolute necessity.

So good christ what the hell am I saying?

I liked all three variations and couldn't pick a favorite. If you are looking for low-fat though, you can easily get away with making them plain and, as long as you pick out a good BBQ-sauce, they'll be damn good anyways.

That's what I'm saying.

Oh, and next time, I plan to toy with the wheat gluten/wheat flour ratio a bit more. These were much more tender than my original recipe--but I also kinda liked the chewiness of my original recipe. So next time, I'll probably use a bit more wheat gluten and a bit less wheat flour to make them a WEE bit more chewy while still maintaining the tenderness.

So there.

  • 2/3 c. of water

  • 1/2 c. wheat gluten (aka. vital wheat gluten, aka vital wheat gluten flour)

  • 1/4 c. + 3 T. nutritional yeast

  • 1/2 c. + 1 T. whole wheat flour

  • 1 c. BBQ sauce (see recipe below)

  • spices to taste (onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, etc)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Mix the wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, wheat flower and spices in a dry bowl. Add the water and knead until almost all of the dry powder is absorbed. Do not over-knead. This dough is really sticky.

3. Form the dough into a flat shape about one-half inch thick.

4. Time for the variations:

  • For low-fat ribz, jump ahead to step 5.

  • For the peanut-butter variation:
    Take about 2 T. soy butter and heat it in microwave until soft. Add 3 T. peanut butter to it, mixing it so that it's consistent throughout. (To be quite honest, I guesstimated on the quantities/ratios of PB and margarine--you can get away with doing the same.) Add one-half of the peanut butter mixture to the top of the flattened dough. Use your fingers to poke the peanut butter mixture deeply into the dough. Do this for about 30 seconds. Turn the dough over and pour the remaining half of the peanut butter mixture onto the dough, again using your fingers to poke into the dough. Jump ahead to step 5.

  • For the tahini variation:
    Smear a few tablespoons of tahini to the top of your flattened dough. (I don't have exact measurements--you just need to use enough that it covers the top decently.) As with the PB, use your fingers to poke the tahini deep into the dough. Do this for about 30 seconds. You can either jump ahead to step 5 now or flip the dough over and do the same to the other side.

5. Use a pizza cutter to cut one-half inch strips of dough. Make them as long or as short as you like them. Lay out on a lightly oiled baking pan. Bake for about 10 minutes.

6. After 10 minutes, use a spatula to turn the "ribs" over. Spoon or brush on BBQ sauce and return to the oven.

7. Bake for another 5 minutes. Remove and turn the ribs over again. Spoon or brush on some more BBQ sauce.

8. Bake for another 5 minutes. Remove and enjoy your hot, sweet and sticky "ribz!"

(Makes enough for four.)

(Original recipe HERE)

* * * * * * *

This time I also tried out a different BBQ sauce (since I still had some bourbon left over from our Weekend o' Bourbon last summer). It was quite good, though a bit too sweet for my taste--next time I will probably cut the sweet ingredients in half (and use brown sugar instead of a syrup to add a bit of thickness).


  • 1/4 c. tomato paste

  • 1/4 c. cider vinegar

  • 2 T. + 2 t. agave nectar (was a bit too sweet--next time I'm gonna use brown sugar instead and a much smaller amount)

  • 1/8 c. Jack Daniels or bourbon (I used the latter)

  • 1/8 cup soy sauce

  • 1/2 T. oil (I used canola--the original calls for olive)

  • 1/2 T. garlic, minced (I just used garlic powder to taste)

  • 1/2 T. ginger, minced (I just used ginger powder to taste)

  • 1/2 T. dry mustard

  • 1/8 t. pepper

  • 1/8 t. cayenne pepper

  • A few drops of hickory smoke flavoring


Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. (If you use garlic and ginger powder instead of the fresh stuff, you can just put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with a whisk.) Place in a sealed jar and keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Yield: 1 Cup

(Original recipe HERE)

* * * * * * *

Oh, and I made sweet potato fries on the side, but they weren't anything all that complicated, so I'm not including the recipe here. (Suffice it to say, they were cut-up sweet potatoes mixed in a bit of cinnamon and sugar and baked for about 30 minutes or so.)

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