These succulent “ribs” are slathered in spicy BBQ sauce and topped with creamy rainbow slaw. The ribs are made with seitan, a very popular vegan meat substitute.
Seitan is made with vital wheat gluten flour. Vital wheat gluten is made by separating the starch in the wheat berry from the protein, or gluten. Once the gluten is separated, it is dried and ground up into flour. When combined with a liquid, vital wheat gluten flour becomes very elastic and chewy, similar to the texture of meat.
Making seitan is not very different from making bread. You mix the wet and dry ingredients together and knead the dough. Since vital wheat gluten is pure gluten, I add some beans and chickpea flour to cut down on the chewiness of the flour, and to make the finished ribs a bit more tender. You can use any type of beans you like, just keep in mind that the color of the beans will affect the color of the ribs. For example, I wouldn’t recommend using black beans because the ribs will look grayish.
Kneading the seitan is very important in order to get that chewy texture. The more you knead the dough, the more gluten will get activated and the chewier the finished seitan will be. I recommend kneading for about 5-10 minutes. If the seitan is not kneaded long enough, the end result will be more gummy, rather than “meaty”.
Once the seitan is kneaded, it needs to be cooked, just like a loaf of bread would need to be baked. When making ribs, I steam the seitan first, and then slather it with BBQ sauce and finish cooking it in the oven, or the grill. You can choose any BBQ sauce you like, just check the ingredients to make sure it’s vegan. Most BBQ sauces contain Worcestershire sauce which has anchovies in it.
Seitan tends to expand when cooked, and if it expands too much it can become spongy. In order to prevent this, I wrap the seitan before cooking it. The ribs can be wrapped tightly with foil, parchment paper, or both, and then steamed.
The texture of the cooked seitan will be much softer when the ribs are hot. The ribs will become more firm and chewy as they cool. We prefer the texture of the seitan when it’s cooled a bit.
The ribs are fantastic in this BBQ Rib Sandwich with Rainbow Slaw. They are also great served with mashed potatoes and roasted, or grilled vegetables.
Vegan BBQ Rib Sandwich With Rainbow Slaw
For the ribs:
- 2¼ cups vital wheat gluten flour
- ¼ cup chickpea flour
- 2 tablespoons onion powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons mushroom powder
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon miso paste
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1¼ cups vegetable broth
- ½ cup cooked red kidney beans or pinto beans
- Your favorite BBQ sauce
For the sandwiches:
- 4 rolls or buns
- 1 recipe rainbow slaw
For the ribs:
- Place the vital wheat gluten flour and chickpea flour in the bowl of your mixer.
- Add all of the remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process until very smooth.
- Pour the liquids from your blender into the mixing bowl with the flours. Knead with the bread attachment for approximately 10 minutes.
- Transfer the dough on to your counter and shape into a slab about one inch thick.
- Wrap tightly in a layer of parchment paper, and then a layer of aluminum foil.
- Set up a large pot with a steamer basket. Bring to a simmer, and steam the seitan for 1½ hours, flipping halfway through.
- Unwrap the seitan, and brush with BBQ sauce. Bake uncovered for another half hour. Flip the ribs after 15 minutes, and brush with more sauce.
- Remove from the oven. Allow the ribs to rest for 20-30 minutes. Slice into ribs.
To assemble the sandwiches:
- Place ribs on the bottom half of the roll.Top with the rainbow slaw.Place the top half of the roll on the slaw and serve.