All the licky, succulent flavor of a rib but without the…rib! Smother the sauce all over the gingery root veg mash and it’s like a winter parade for your taste buds. These ribs make a dazzling presentation as a centerpiece for your spread, so serve them family style on your coolest serving platter. I love to serve it with steamed asparagus, but broccoli or bok choy would be really nice, too.
This recipe is from the Chinese New Year chapter of The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook, but really, the book was designed to use the recipes year round. It doesn’t have to be a special occasion to have an awesome dinner! And of course you don’t have to stick to the chapter guidelines. Serve ribs on Hannukah if you feel like it. Total. Holiday. Anarchy.
~To get this recipe together in about an hour, preheat the oven for the tofu first. In the meantime, start putting the sauce together. While the sauce heats, get the tofu in the oven. And while those things are working away, throw together your root mash.
~There are a lot of super-firm tofus on the market these days, namely from Wildwood or Trader Joe’s. It’s tofu with very little moisture, so no pressing is necessary. To get the most out of it, simply give it a little squeeze with a paper towel before cooking. If you can’t find super-firm, go with extra-firm (and press it).
FOR THE TOFU:
2 (14-ounce) packages super-firm tofu, drained, each sliced into 8-pieces widthwise (see note)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
FOR THE RIB SAUCE:
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup cold vegetable broth, purchased or homemade
1 cup hoisin sauce
1⁄3 cup pure maple syrup
1⁄3 cup tamari or soy sauce
1⁄3 cup rice vinegar
1⁄4 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon sriracha
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1 1⁄2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
3⁄4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice
FOR THE ROOT MASH:
8 ounces parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
8 ounces rutabaga or turnip, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tablespoons refined coconut oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
MAKE THE TOFU:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Put the tofu on a large rimmed baking sheet and coat it on both sides with the oil and tamari. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip the slices and bake for 15 minutes more.
MAKE THE RIB SAUCE:
While the tofu is in the oven, in a 2-cup measuring cup, use a fork to vigorously whisk the cornstarch into the vegetable broth until it’s mostly dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
Transfer the sauce to a small saucepot and heat over medium, stirring occasionally, until it comes to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to a low simmer and let the sauce thicken for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Smother the cooked tofu with the rib sauce, return it to the oven, and bake for 15 minutes more. Remove the pan from the oven and tent it with aluminum foil to keep warm until ready to serve.
MAKE THE ROOT MASH:
Put the parsnips and rutabaga in a 4-quart pot and submerge them in water by 2 inches. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Uncover and boil the parsnips and rutabaga for 10 minutes, then add the sweet potatoes. Continue to boil until everything is fork-tender, about 10 minutes more.
Drain the veggies and transfer them to a medium mixing bowl.
Heat a small pan over low heat and add the coconut oil. When it is melted, sauté the ginger and garlic just until golden, about a minute. Add the ginger and garlic to the bowl of boiled root veg, along with the salt.
Mash everything very well, then taste and adjust for salt.
SERVE: Spread out the hot root veg mash on a serving platter. Arrange the ribs over the mash, then spoon on the remaining sauce. Serve immediately, with large serving spoons.