Tofu “Ribs” with Homemade Spicy BBQ Sauce
These magical Tofu “Ribs” with Spicy BBQ Sauce are the perfect comfort food when we are craving something tasty and highly rewarding.
Perfect for summer barbecues, and amazing to impress your vegan (and non!) guests: everyone will go for seconds, trust me!
Tofu: either you love it, or…love it!
I excuse only those that are allergic to soy, to be fair.
Why do I think that? Simple! Because the secret behind tofu lies under how one prepares it.
Back in the days when I first went veg, I really couldn’t stand it: I found it very hard to have as an animal protein substitute and I was very likely to have beans or grains instead to cover my proteins intake.
That all changed when I took part in a vegan food experience in London a bunch of years back.
Most dishes presented to me had tofu as a main ingredient and on that occasion I had to choose whether to starve or give this Japanese delicacy another go. I’m so grateful I picked the second option!
It was an explosion of textures and flavours: from chewy to crumbly to melt-in-the-mouth!
This is how versatile tofu is. And thanks to that experience I started introducing it again in my cooking and avidly reading books and articles online to learn all its secrets!
That’s right, since that day I really cannot live without tofu anymore!
So.. long story short: if you don’t like tofu you chances are you using it wrong!
Today I’m presenting you one of the unlimited ways to prepare tofu in order to achieve a consistency that is meaty-like that happens to be the best method to mimic the ideal texture for these tofu “ribs”.
What Tofu should I use?
You can make this recipe using both extra firm tofu in water (I’ll explain how to prepare it later on) or vacuum sealed tofu.
If you don’t want to go for the extra effort of the tofu preparation I would recommend you to get your hands on a vacuum sealed tofu pack as it doesn’t require any pressing or preparation whatsoever!
At the time of this post this type of tofu wasn’t as largely available as it is nowadays. The vacuum sealed tofu has almost any liquid at all; it is firmer and totally ready to be used straight away!
It has become my preferred pick, especially when I want to cook something easy and quick like these ribs!
I still like the texture that firm tofu in water has, it is chewier and believe it or not meatier in taste. I also have received many compliments about this preparation, especially from people that didn’t use to like tofu at all, this is why I decided to leave the following instructions 🙂
How to prepare the tofu
The long and exhausting method to prepare the tofu for this recipe is:
- grab a block of tofu still in its package
- put the pack of tofu in the freezer
That’s it people!
For better results:
- make sure you keep the tofu in the freezer for at least 2 days.
- Before using it, you will only need to completely defrost it (you can do this overnight) and.. there you go!
After the tofu has been defrosted you will notice that it changes to its texture: it will, in fact, became spongy and chewy, and – consequently – it will absorb more flavours!
How cool is that?
To learn more about using frozen tofu in recipes I advice you to read this post of my dear friend Natalie @thetofudiariesblog.
Next step: flavouring!
Spoiler alert: This recipe is 100% oil free!
I decided to make a BBQ sauce from scratch which is enriched with mushrooms and has a good kick of heat.
If you can’t be bothered to prepare your own BBQ sauce, you can of course use any store bought one you like the most.
But if you decide to give a homemade BBQ sauce a try, you have to know that is dead easy!
You’ll only need to:
- Chop up onion, mushrooms and garlic, and sauté in a pan with a pinch of salt and a splash of water.
- Add spices, vinegar and sugar and allow them to caramelize for not more than a couple of minutes
- Add the remaining ingredients, lower the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- Blend the barbecue sauce until smooth, and..voilà!
Cut the tofu into thick sticks and align it onto a tray covered in baking paper. In order to cook it and flip more easily I used two long wooden skewers and arranged the tofu sticks making sure they don’t touch each other, so that the barbecue sauce will cover every side of the tofu pieces.
Spread the BBQ sauce over the tofu on both sides and leave it to absorb it for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven at 200°C (392°F) and bake the tofu for 30 minutes, flipping it halfway and adding more sauce if needed/preferred.
Serve the tofu “ribs” with your favourite sides and enjoy!
I’m always curious to see your takes on my recipes!
If you’re looking for other tofu recipe, I already have a buch for you to check:
- Sweet & Sour Pineapple Tofu
- Tofu Makhani
- Deep Fried Tofu Chinese-Style
- Japanese Miso Soup with Tofu and Mushrooms
- Italian-Style Potato Salad
- Crispy Katsu Tofu with Easy Japanese Curry
- Mediterranean Empanadas
Now I’m leaving you to the ingredients and method to replicate this dish. See you next time!
Tofu “Ribs” with Homemade Spicy BBQ Sauce Recipe
1 block Firm Tofu (400g, see notes)
1 bottle Vegan Barbecue Sauce (at least 350ml)
…or, make your own Spicy Barbecue…
300 ml Water
100 ml Tomato Paste
90 gr Soft Brown Sugar
70 ml Malt Vinegar
30 ml (2 tbsp) Balsamic Glaze
30 ml (2 tbsp) Agave Syrup
3-4 Closed Cup Mushrooms (optional)
2-3 Garlic Cloves
2 tbsp Liquid Smoke
1 1/2 tsp Corn Starch
1 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp Ground Coriander
1. If you’re using store-bought barbecue sauce jump to step 6. Prepare the BBQ sauce: roughly chop mushrooms, onion and garlic. Sauté in a pan with a pinch of salt and 2 tbsp of water until soft (3-5 minutes).
2. Add: malt vinegar, balsamic glaze, sugar, agave syrup and all the spices. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes after the mixture starts to bubble.
3. Add the tomato paste, water and liquid smoke, lower the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
4. Dissolve the corn starch in 1 tablespoon of water, then add it to the sauce.
5. Blend the BBQ sauce until smooth. Return it on the stove and reduce for 3-5 extra minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.
6. Cut the tofu block (previously frozen and defrosted – see notes) into thick sticks.
7. Align the sticks onto a baking sheet on a tray.
8. Spread a generous amount of homemade or store bought barbecue sauce on both sides (enough to coat the tofu well). Allow to marinate for 30 minutes.
9. Preheat the oven at 200°C (392°F) and bake the tofu sticks for 30 minutes, flipping halfway.
10. Serve the tofu with some extra barbecue sauce and your favourite sides.
Tofu "Ribs" with Homemade Spicy BBQ Sauce
- 400 g (14.11 oz) Tofu
...for the homemade spicy barbecue sauce...
- 300 ml (1.27 cups) Water
- 100 ml (3.53 oz) Tomato Paste
- 90 g (0.41 cups) Soft Brown Sugar
- 70 ml (0.3 cups) Malt Vinegar
- 30 ml (2.03 tbsp) Balsamic Glaze 2 tbsp
- 30 ml (2.03 tbsp) Agave Syrup 2 tbsp
- 3-4 Closed Cup Mushrooms optional
- 2-3 Garlic Cloves
- 1 Onion
- 2 tbsp Liquid Smoke
- 1 1/2 tsp Corn Starch
- 1 tsp Sea Salt
- 1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
- 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 1/2 tsp Ground Coriander
- Prepare the BBQ sauce: roughly chop mushrooms, onion and garlic. Sauté in a pan with a pinch of salt and 2 tbsp of water until soft (3-5 minutes).
- Add: malt vinegar, balsamic glaze, sugar, agave syrup and all the spices. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes after the mixture starts to bubble.
- Add the tomato paste, water and liquid smoke, lower the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- Dissolve the corn starch in 1 tablespoon of water, then add it to the sauce.
- Blend the BBQ sauce until smooth. Return it on the stove and reduce for 3-5 extra minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.
- Cut the tofu block (previously frozen and defrosted - see notes) into thick sticks.
- Align the sticks onto a baking sheet on a tray.
- Spread a generous amount of homemade barbecue sauce on both sides. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven at 200°C (392°F) and bake the tofu sticks for 30 minutes, flipping halfway.
- Serve the tofu with some extra barbecue sauce and your favourite sides.