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VeganMoFo Day #15: Braised Seitan Short Ribs in Spicy Chile Sauce



Welcome to another day of VeganMoFo 2013, a whole month of delicious vegan food. What better way to spend any day than with a new recipe that is both amazingly yummy and cruelty-free? It’s a win-win!



As you may know, The “V” Word recipes are about 99% gluten-free but every now and then, I have to post something for the seitan lovers. That doesn’t mean, however, that my gluten-free peeps are out of luck. This recipe can totally be adapted by using tofu, mushrooms and hopefully soon, V-Meat.

Every now and then I get cravings for foods my mother made us. While much of my inspiration for cooking comes from indulgent food I used to eat at restaurants or from take-out and what I see on television cooking shows, the most meaningful inspiration is from my childhood. I want to recreate every dish my mother ever made.

Mom would sometimes make braised short ribs for my father. He loved this dish. It was so tender and flavorful. Mom spent hours making it. The other day, memories of this dish just popped into my head. I started thinking about it and then craving it.

Maybe it was because it was Yom Kippur and I have to say yiskor for my Dad who passed away 23 years ago. Plus, this year Yom Kippur fell on his birthday. He would have been 85 this year. So my father was doubly on my mind. This was also Tom’s first year saying yiskor for his father who died last May. I remember my first year saying yiskor. It was sad and hard so I wanted to do something to make Tom feel better.

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I decided I would try to recreate my Mom’s short ribs recipe. Now I have none of her recipes written down. It’s all just memories of the taste and what little attention I paid to her cooking methods (I wish I had known cooking would become so important to me; I would have paid better attention!)

Since this was a special meal for Tom, I decided to use seitan and because it’s a “ribs” recipe, I used my Balsamic BBQ Seitan Ribs recipe as the starting point. I love that recipe because it’s faster and easier than making seitan with other methods and you don’t have to wait until the next day to eat it.

For the sauce, I didn’t want to make a plain gravy because I wanted this dish to taste different than pot roast which would be “beefy” and mushroom-y. I already have a Seitan Pot Roast recipe. So I made the sauce a bit spicy and bright with some chile sauce and balanced it with brown sugar and vinegar. The sauce was amazing. Tom said I should bottle it!

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The seitan short ribs, after braising in the delicious sauce were so tender and almost falling apart. I served them over mashed potatoes that I whipped with an electric mixer until they were smooth and creamy. All I added to them was some non-dairy milk and spices. No butter or cream necessary. Then I poured more of the sauce over everything and it was incredible. So comforting and warm and satisfying.

The next day I took the leftovers and let the seitan simmer some more in the sauce until it got very soft. Then I shredded it with two forks, mounded it up on rolls and we had Braised Seitan Short Rib Sandwiches for dinner. The sauce was served on the side. Absolutely amazing!!

rib sandwich (11)

Tom really loved the dish and our friend who became vegan over the summer said, “It’s the best food I ever ate!” I loved it too but what I really loved was having one of my mother’s special dinners again. It just shows that it’s possible to live a compassionate life and with a few changes, keep traditions alive.

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Try my Braised Seitan Short Ribs in Spicy Chile Sauce for your next special dinner. Maybe you will start a new tradition in your family. Enjoy!


Braised Seitan Short Ribs in a Spicy Chile Sauce

braised seitan ribs (4)

This recipe contains gluten!!!

Makes 5-7 servings


For the Spice Rub­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

1 Tbs. brown sugar

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. garlic powder

½ tsp. ground black pepper

1 garlic clove, minced


For the Seitan Short Ribs­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

2 cups vital wheat gluten

¼ cup nutritional yeast

3 Tbs. chile powder

3 Tbs. onion powder

3 Tbs. garlic powder

½ tsp. ground black pepper

2 cups water

¼ cup almond butter or tahini

¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce

1 Tbs. canola oil


For the Spicy Chile Sauce­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

1 Tbs. canola oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 large carrot, diced

1 large shallot, minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup red wine or red wine vinegar

¼ cup chile sauce

2 Tbs. vegan Worcestershire sauce

2 Tbs. brown sugar

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. dried oregano

½ tsp. kosher salt

2 large bay leaves

4 cups “beef” broth

2 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped


To make the seitan short ribs: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the spice rub. Mix well and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the vital wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, spices and mix well. In a smaller bowl, combine the water, almond butter or tahini, soy sauce and oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined. Knead the dough lightly until everything is combined and the dough feels elastic.

Grease or spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Add the dough to the baking dish, flattening it and stretching it out to fit the dish. Use a sharp knife to slice the dough into ribs. Short ribs should be fat squares, not long like other ribs. Cut the dough into 4 pieces length-wise and then make 4 slices width-wise. You should end up with 16 square seitan ribs.

Top the dough with the spice rub and massage it in a bit. Bake the seitan for 60 minutes or until the seitan has a sturdy texture to it. Remove the dish from the oven and lower the temperature to 325 degrees. Recut the ribs and carefully remove them from the baking dish.

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Place 3-4 seitan ribs into the pot and let brown for about 2 minutes. Don’t put more than 3 or 4 ribs in at a time or they will steam rather than sear. Turn the ribs to brown on the other side. Transfer to a plate and continue with the rest of the seitan ribs. Set aside. Try not to eat one. I dare you!

To braise the seitan: Add more oil to the Dutch oven. Add the onions, carrots, shallot and garlic to the pot and cook for 6 minutes until the vegetables soften. While they are cooking, combine the red wine vinegar, chile sauce, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Add this braising liquid to the Dutch oven. Scrape up any yummy bits at the bottom of the pot. Add the thyme, oregano, salt and bay leaves. Mix and let the braising liquid cook until it reduces by about half.

Turn off the heat and add the broth to the pot. Carefully return the seitan ribs to the pot and make sure they are covered by liquid. Cover the pot and place it in the oven. Cook for 1 hour or until the seitan ribs have considerably softened but are not falling apart. While the ribs are cooking, prepare any side dishes you are having. These seitan ribs are wonderful over whipped mashed potatoes or polenta.

Carefully remove the pot from the oven and remove the bay leaves. Serve 2-3 seitan ribs over mashed potatoes or polenta. Spoon some of the sauce over everything and garnish with fresh parsley.

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The “V” Word: Say it. Eat it. Live it.



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23 Responses to VeganMoFo Day #15: Braised Seitan Short Ribs in Spicy Chile Sauce

  1. E.I. November 8, 2016 at 11:25 pm #

    I can’t wait to make these ribs! Just one question before I start: The recipe calls for 1 cup of red wine or red wine vinegar, if I don’t use the red wine is it still 1 whole cup of the red wine vinegar? I thought it was a lot of vinegar so I just want to make sure it is correct, I sure don’t want to mess up the recipe. Can you please let me know? I just found your web site, half an hour ago and I’m loving it. Thank you for your help! 🙂

    • Rhea November 9, 2016 at 2:12 pm #

      Hi, yeah, that sounds like a lot of vinegar to me too. Go for 1/3 to 1/2 cup vinegar and then add broth for the rest. Hope you love them. This is one of my favorite recipes 🙂

  2. Deborah June 7, 2016 at 4:33 pm #

    Okay I’m a newbie to being a Vegan and after being at a Vegan retreat for one week, I realized I had to create wonderful seitan dishes for my son , a US Marine who lives with my husband and myself.
    The version they taught at the retreat was not only boring sounding but unappealing as well? and so I simply GOOGLED “perfect and best seitan” and I found you! I am so happy and cannot wait to get started!!!!!!
    I’m part Thai and have gone to culinary school in Thailand with my husband, everybody loves Thai food! BUT…. Making sure it’s convincing to carnivores like my son is my new purpose, maybe we can help people to become vegan by nurturing them wig wonderful dishes! ?
    Oh and by the way if no one has watched the documentary called “Cowspiracy”, they must .
    It was the catalyst that threw me into Veganism without question…..not only is it inherently cruel to animals but it is highly, highly, highly unethical. Watch it, Leonardo DiCaprio directs.

    • Rhea June 11, 2016 at 10:56 am #

      Hi Deborah, I can tell you that I have fooled people with my seitan. They thought it was meat. Once you add all the flavors, spices, sauces and stuff, seitan tastes like meat. This recipe, in particular, becomes soooo soft that it’s very much like braised ribs. I wrote an article on One Green Planet called “How to Make Perfect Seitan” that you can read. I hope your family likes it and good luck on converting everyone. We can do it!!! xxoxo

  3. allen June 24, 2015 at 2:08 pm #

    looks so good! hope my meat loving other half will think so to.

    • Rhea June 26, 2015 at 3:48 pm #

      I bet they will! xoxo

  4. Janet Weeks V February 9, 2015 at 12:09 pm #

    I made these delicious “ribs” for the second time yesterday, and posted on Facebook with photos and the following message:

    “So, when a cook is making a rather complicated, but delicious, recipe for Braised Seitan Short “Ribs” in Spicy Chile Sauce and the Spicy Chile Sauce calls for a cup of red wine, that qualifies the cook for a cup of red wine herself, right?”

    The response was overwhelmingly “Yes!” At least one commenter wanted the recipe, so I have shared this page as well. My house still smells divine this morning (I doubled the garlic) and I cannot wait to enjoy leftovers. I also substituted sunflower seed butter for the almond butter or tahini for a slightly less costly version without sacrificing flavor. Thank you so much for this lovely recipe. I think I will make it again when my nonvegan kids come to Mom’s house for supper. They’ll be amazed. 🙂

    • Rhea February 9, 2015 at 12:44 pm #

      Hi Janet, thank you so much for the kind words. I love those ribs too. I wish I could eat them everyday! I hope the rest of your family loves them too! xoxo

  5. jay August 22, 2014 at 2:47 pm #

    Hi I’m definitely making these for dinner tonight. Thanks so much for such an amazing looking recipe. Out of curiosity, what purpose does the almond butter serve? I’ve never seen it used in seitan before is it a flavor or texture thing?

    • Rhea August 22, 2014 at 2:58 pm #

      Hi Jay, the almond butter adds moisture, fat and a bit of flavor but not much. You can also use tahini. I hope you enjoy it and please send a dish my way.

      • jay August 23, 2014 at 11:39 am #

        Made it last night came out great. I changed some of the spices because of what I had on hand and served it with baby bok choy and mashed potatoes. I loved it, my sister liked it but said she felt it was a little spongy in texture….I’m wondering if perhaps my dough was too wet, or is that sort if the texture it should have? Either way we ate our entire plates and felt a little too full afterwards. Since I can’t send a plate your way I will eat one for you haha 🙂

        • Rhea August 23, 2014 at 10:16 pm #

          I’m so glad you liked it. Spongy seitan may be from not baking it long enough. It’s usually an hour but it could take longer or yes, it could be too much liquid. Eat 2 for me. haha 🙂

  6. Alexis July 30, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

    This looks amazing!! I was wondering, is it ok to cook it until it “falls of the bone” (for lack of a better term) if I wanted to use this method as a base for tacos? Please let me know!!

    Also martha stuart has a vegan worcestershire sauce online and hestias kitchen has recipes for “chicken” and “beef” broth powder if you cant find vegan alternatives (or dont wanna spent a redonkulous amount of money for them)

    • Rhea July 31, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

      Hi Alexis, yes you can cook them to be that soft. They should just pull apart with two forks into a shredded “meat’ kind of thing.. Thanks for the tip about the recipes. I need to make my own W-sauce one day. xoxo

  7. jeanne0623jeanne September 23, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

    I have a few questions! Is Thai chili sauce something you use like a taco sauce or something you add like an ingredient? Would I find it in the aisle by the hoisin and terriyaki sauces? Also, can I use soy sauce instead of worcestershire sauce and how about “vegetable” broth instead of “beef”? Normally I improvise on my recipes but this is my first attempt making seitan. I’d like to be able to show this recipe off to carnivores! Lol!

    • Rhea September 23, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

      Hi Jeanne, so this is your first time making seitan? Wow, hope you like it. To answer your questions:
      1 – Thai chile sauce is an ingredient. It comes in sweet or spicy. I used spicy. It would be in the Asian aisle.
      2- If you don’t have vegan Worcestershire sauce, you can use a combo of soy sauce and balsamic vinegar but nothing gives you the same taste that Worcestershire sauce does. It has a deeper flavor and better when you’re going for a “beefy” flavor.
      3- Again, you could use veggie broth but you will get more of a “beef” flavor with “beef” flavored broth. You could also make your own by dropping a “beef” flavored bouillon cube into boiling water.

      I guess the point is that you could sub the ingredients in the recipe but they are there for a reason and if you are serving this to meat-eaters, you want the beefiest flavor you can get. Hope they love it!

  8. charj September 20, 2013 at 11:03 am #

    I had bookmarked several omni short rib recipes to try the flavorings with Soy Curls. I am so excited to have a real live seitan short rib recipe! For the chile sauce, would that be siracha, or an enchilada type sauce? Also,this makes a lot of short ribs. Can I make the short ribs and freeze them after the browning step and then continue with the recipe, braising one or two servings at a time?

    • Rhea September 20, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

      Hi Charj,
      I used Thai chile sauce. I think Sriracha would be too hot. If I were only making part of this, I might refrigerate the ribs before browning them, like any other seitan, in foil but I’m sure you can do that after browning too. Hope you like them. xoxo

  9. Denise D September 19, 2013 at 11:28 pm #

    I can’t wait to try this recipe!!! I love following your blog and trying your recipes…I haven’t had 1 yet that we haven’t loved!!! 🙂

    • Rhea September 19, 2013 at 11:41 pm #

      Wow, Denise, I hope that streak continues! Thank you! xoxo Rhea

      • Denise D January 19, 2014 at 5:23 pm #

        Finally made this recipe and we love it!!! ( I actually have made it twice in the last 10 days!!!) Thank- you so much for all the yummy recipes you share with us! 🙂 I love being able to show my non vegan family and friends how good we really do eat! 🙂

        • Rhea January 19, 2014 at 5:37 pm #

          Thank you Denise. That’s a favorite here too. I’m glad your non vegan friends and family liked it too. We do eat well! Thanks for the feedback. xoxo


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