Boneless, Meatless “Ribs” in Asian Inspired Sauce

You know how Murphy’s Law rules my life?

Open a cake business… turn up with a gluten allergy

Buy a house.. gets hit by a tornado a couple months later.

Well, we can add a new one to the list.

My husband and I have been slowly coming to the conclusion that he needs to go vegetarian. I’ll spare the gory details, but just know that life will be better for both of us.

As someone who gets pretty sick if I go more than a few days without animal protein, my main concern was him getting enough protein on this new eating plan. We did a ton of research – decided that tempeh was better for him than tofu, for example – and went to a local “vegan butcher” to try some fake meats, which actually have a ton of protein.

The good news was that he loved fake ribs. The bad news? They cost more per pound than actual steak does!

More research turned up the fact that the “best” fake meats are made from vital wheat gluten. As a point of interest here, regular flour is about 12% gluten, vital wheat gluten is a “flour” made up of about 80% gluten.

So, you know… SUPER GLUTEN.

SO I figured, “whatever, I don’t have to eat it, we’ll just have to be extra careful in the kitchen”, and bought some to play with. Opening the first bag of it caused a big plume of gluten to blow up right in my face. I was sick for a few days and wanting to claw my own face off. Awesome.

We learned from that, and now keep a HEPA filter mask and gloves in the kitchen, for making these things.


The things I do for him…

ANYWAY. Now that I’ve bemoaned how awful the stuff is…

After a few trial batches,starting with what seems to be the default ingredients and method for making seitain – the wheat based fake meat – and adjusting from there, I turned out a batch that had him happily declaring that he likes the stuff MORE than actual meat.

… I have no idea how to take that.

To be fair, though, the Asian inspired sauce I came up was completely insane. As in, we’d totally do shots of it, had we not had actual food to cook with it *right there*. It was just a bit of this, “hey, do you want some ginger in here? OK…”. SO glad I wrote it all down as I went!

So, if you’re an actual carnivore like me, know that this sauce is amazing and would go well on basically any meat or vegetable. It’s great on beef, pork, and even fresh tuna.

I can’t speak to the taste of the ribs, myself, because I value my health. 🙂 I would imagine that moldy old gym shoes would taste amazing if marinated in this sauce, however, so I’m going to go ahead and believe Porter that they’re pretty decent!

Asian Inspired Rib Sauce:

Makes about 1 cup

½ small onion, chopped
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp Sesame oil
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Sriracha
3 cloves minced garlic
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp grated ginger
1 Tbsp sesame seeds

Add everything except sesame seeds to a blender or food processor, blitz until very smooth. Stir in sesame seeds, chill until ready to use.

Boneless, Meatless Ribs

Makes about 2 servings.

1 cup vital wheat gluten
2 Tbsp Nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp smoked serrano powder
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp pepper
2 Tbsp Almond butter
1 Tbsp soy
1 tsp sesame oil
3/4 cup apple juice
3 drop liquid smoke

Preheat oven to 350, grease a glass loaf pan (4″ x 8″ or similar size)

In a medium bowl, mix together wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, and seasonings.

In a separate bowl, whisk together almond butter, soy sauce, and sesame oil until relatively smooth. Add a little apple juice at a time, whisking until smooth.

Once wet ingredients are well whisked, pour into dry ingredients and stir to form a lumpy dough. Turn dough out onto a clean work surface, and knead for at LEAST two minutes. This is important – if you don’t knead it enough, it’ll turn out puffy, and more like a baked good than a “meat” substitute. It won’t really look any different as you go, you just have to trust in your timing.

Press dough evenly into prepared loaf pan, slice into 5-6 “ribs”. (They’ll bake together, you’re basically scoring them). Bake for 30 minutes.

Toss “ribs” with sauce, allow to sit in the sauce while you heat your grill up.

Grill until everything is nice and caramelized, basting a couple times with more sauce.

Serve hot. (We like to garnish with sliced green onions, but that’s optional)

Author:Marie Porter

Marie is an award winning cake artist based in Minnesota's Twin Cities. Known as much for her delicious and diverse flavor menu as for her sugar artistry, Marie's work has graced magazines and blogs around the world. Having baked and designed for brides, celebrities, and even Klingons, Marie was proud to share her wealth of baking knowledge in her two cookbooks: "The Spirited Baker" and “Evil Cake Overlord”. Marie has also authored a book about her experiences surrounding the 2011 Minneapolis tornado: "Twisted: A Minneapolis Tornado Memoir"

One Response to “Boneless, Meatless “Ribs” in Asian Inspired Sauce”

  1. August 29, 2017 at 12:57 am #

    What an interesting post! I’m not a big meat eater (and I absolutely despise eating around bones!) so these ‘ribs’ really picqued my interest. I eat vegan about 90% of the time and unfortunately we don’t have a ‘vegan butcher’ here — but I’m going to keep my ears open. And wow, you’re a trooper for making those for your hubby even with your allergy. Kudos!

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