Food Network Friday – Spicy Cherry Ribs

Kim chose the recipe for this Food Network Friday and this one really got me thinking. My biggest problem with this one was not really how to veganise it, but what to serve it with. I just couldn’t imagine what the finished result of the glaze would taste like and therefore what to serve with it. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten meat ribs in any guise, but all the one I have eaten have been more like BBQ style and go great with potato or pasta salad. This recipe though was so full of different flavours that I knew that wouldn’t work.

I decided to make the glaze the day before I wanted to eat it, so I could smell and taste it and then decide what to serve it with. It did help because I hadn’t quite expected it to taste quite so Chinese. The ginger, sesame and soya sauce came through very strongly but it was still sticky and almost like a hoi sin type of sauce. I decided therefore to go down a chinese route – but I couldn’t get my head round the idea of ribs with rice or noodles. I remembered these spring onion pancakes from the wonderful “What the hell does a vegan eat anyway?” blog and decided this would be a perfect opportunity to give them a go. I had some asparagus in the fridge that needed using so I blanched that in boiling water and then tossed it in soya sauce and sesame seeds. So that was the sides sorted out.

I was going back and forth in my mind about which protein to use for the ribs. It was a midweek so I didn’t really want to make any ribs from scratch. I had seitan in the freezer, and both tofu and tempeh to use. I was toying with textures and cooking method, and had really decided to go for tempeh. But when I tasted the glaze I had another idea and went for using aubergine steaks. I know that’s very odd but I just had a feeling that it would work. And it did!

I made the glaze just as on the site, no need for vegan substitutions there. I cut my aubergine lengthwise into 5 fairly thick planks and briefly smoked them in my food smoker to make up for the lack of an outdoor grill. Then I used half of the mustard and spice mix, rubbed it into the aubergine and cooked it for about 10 minutes in the oven until soft. I then poured the glaze over and put in under a hot grill (broiler) until the glaze was bubbly.

The flavours all worked together extremely well. I think I could have rolled the pancakes a bit thinner but the taste and texture was fantastic and I’ll definitely be whipping them up again. The sweet, spicy glaze went very well with the slightly greasy flaky bread, and the iron asparagus stood up surprisingly well.

This was another really fun Food Network Friday which caused me much head scratching but was well worth it with an amazing end result.

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