Today we’re bringing in the game changer. The type of food that makes you say “fuck meat, I got this shit!”
This tempeh is smoky, full of deep savory flavor, crusty on the outside, tender on the outside, and – get this – there’s no pesky bone to deal with! Isn’t it so relieving knowing that you aren’t eating animal flesh straight off its own bones?? I think so.
The idea for tempeh ribs is most certainly not my own. In fact, the credit is due to the genius behind BBQ Revolution – an all vegan, barbecue food truck out of Austin, Texas that serves up LEGIT smoked, vegan barbecue. They dish up tempeh ribs, bbq soy curls, and brisket made from seitan. If you could see me, I’m drooling right now.
While I’ve wanted to cop a smoker for the longest time, I just don’t feel that the amount of space, equipment, and $$$ it requires is worth it yet. But I’m not gonna let that stop me from making smoky, savory, and downright soul-cuddling tempeh ribs using what I got.
If you’ve played around with tempeh a good bit, then you’ll know that it’s best if it’s boiled before sautéing, baking, or grilling, as tempeh is crumbly and dry in its raw state. Luckily for us though, it loves to absorb liquid, meaning you can infuse it with whatever flavor you’d like at the same time you give it some juiciness.
Because tempeh is merely cooked soybeans and a probiotic culture, it doesn’t contain much flavor on its own. So, to impart it with savoriness, depth of flavor, and saltiness, we always add tamari while it’s boiling. To help your mouth salivate, which in turn makes your food more “tender,” we add vinegar to the mix, because acids are perfect for getting saliva flowing. And normally we’d just stop there – but this is barbecue after all, which means smokiness is crucial, thus we add liquid smoke into the mix as well.
After the tempeh’s been boiled in its flavorful bath, it gets tossed with a dry rub, which is one of barbecue’s most essential elements. See, just like tempeh or jackfruit, meat also has very little flavor before it’s seasoned. For this reason – and to add a nice crust – barbecue pioneers would coat whatever meat they had in a fragrant mixture of spices, which often times resemble spices that’d be found in a jerk rub, which makes sense because a large portion of the salves that pioneered barbecue came from the Caribbean Islands before they were transplanted to the Americas. Even though we aren’t smoking our tempeh, a dry rub still adds a massive amount of flavor, color, and – did I mention? – a lightly crisp crust.
We hope you guys flex on your meat-eating friend, Joe, with these tempeh ribs on July 4th. You can leave the pork in the fridge, Joe, because these “ribs” are:
- Smoky & full of flavor
- Savory & sweet
- Lightly crisp on the outside, tender on the inside
- Easy to make
- Takes less than hour to make
If you like what your taste buds are tellin’ ya, leave behind a nice rating, share your thoughts with us in the comments, or show us your creations by tagging @noeggsorham on Instagram.
Don’t snooze on these vegan moves, Joe.
BBQ Tempeh Ribs (vegan & Plant Paradox-friendly)
Handheld barbecue sticks without the bones: tempeh ribs.
- 16 oz tempeh
- 1/4 c tamari
- 2 tbsp vinegar (rice, apple cider, or white wine vinegar work)
- 2 tsp liquid smoke
- 1/2 tbsp Swerve
- 2 tbsp melted vegan butter or olive oil
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp Swerve
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp yellow mustard powder
- Pre-heat oven to 400° F. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and coat lightly it with olive oil or non-stick coconut oil spray. Set aside.
- If your tempeh comes in long rectangles, cut each rectangle into three even, long & thick slices. If your tempeh comes in a square, cut it into four even strips.
- Stir together tamari, vinegar, Swerve, and liquid smoke together in a medium-large sauté pan. Place in tempeh and add enough water to come most of the way up the side of the tempeh.
- Place over high heat and cook until all of the water has evaporated – flipping the tempeh once, when the water reaches the middle of the tempeh slices.
- While tempeh boils, whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.
- Once water’s evaporated, transfer tempeh to a large plate or baking sheet and coat with melted butter or olive oil.
- Toss & pack on the dry rub ’til tempeh is heavily & evenly coated, then transfer to prepped baking sheet from Step 1.
- Bake for 40 minutes in total, flipping the tempeh onto a different side every 10 minutes. In the end, every side will be evenly browned.
- Serve while fresh with vegan & sugar-free barbecue sauce, baked beans, and coleslaw for a Fourth of July dinner. Then you might actually have a reason to celebrate this holiday.
- Store any leftovers in fridge for up to 4 days. Re-heat in a pan over medium-high heat with a touch of vegan butter until they’re heated through; about 8 minutes.