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August 2006
Myth: It Ain’t a Barbecue Without Meat

Lip Smackin’ BBQ Creations!
Recipes by Isa Chandra Moskowitz


It’s summertime. And if you’re like me you can’t wait to take your boom box to Prospect Park, blast some Will Smith and grill up some of the holy trinity: tofu, tempeh or seitan.

Making your own sauce is the way to go. Here are three recipes to suit any taste. Apricots make a thick and smooth sauce that is tart and sweet and a real kid pleaser. If you want to ditch the kids and get sauced yourself, the Pomegranate Barbeque sauce goes great with margaritas and the Orange Maple Ginger sauce has an Asian flair that I especially like on skewers.

Preparing the Faux Meats

1 Block Extra Firm Tofu
2 T. Soy Sauce
2 T. Oil
BBQ Sauce

1. Preparing tofu for the grill is easy. First press the tofu by wrapping the block with paper towels or a kitchen towel, and placing a large, level object on it, like an encyclopedia. Press for a half hour, then flip over and press the other side for another half hour.

2. Slice tofu into eight pieces, width-wise, and dredge in soy sauce and oil. I like canola oil for these recipes because it doesn’t have a strong taste, but peanut oil is good too!

3. To cook, grill each side for two minutes, or until grill marks start to appear.

4. Then brush with BBQ sauce and cook for about three minutes more on each side, applying more sauce before you flip each piece. When you serve it, pour a little more sauce on top.


1 Package Tempeh
1⁄4 C. White Wine or Mirin
2 T. Soy Sauce
2 T. Oil
BBQ Sauce

1. I like to marinate tempeh before cooking it. Slice tempeh into six pieces width-wise—keep the pieces big so that they don’t slip into the fire.

2. Place in white wine or mirin, canola or peanut oil, and soy sauce and let marinate for at least an hour, flipping often.

3. To cook, use the same principle as the tofu, grilling a bit first, then slathering in BBQ sauce and cooking the rest of the way. Only cook the tempeh for five minutes on each side before brushing on the sauce. When it’s ready, transfer to plates and pour on more sauce.

1 Package Seitan
BBQ Sauce

1. Seitan has to be done on skewers. If using wooden skewers remember to soak them in water for at least an hour so that they don’t burn.

2. Squeeze as much liquid as you can out of the seitan. If the seitan is not already in bite- size pieces, then cut it into chunks that will fit on a skewer.

3. Marinate in BBQ sauce for at least an hour, then place on skewers.

4. Cook skewers for five to seven minutes, turning often and brushing on more sauce as it cooks. Pour more sauce on the side for dipping.

Preparing the Sauces

Apricot BBQ Sauce
I wanted to make a kid-friendly BBQ sauce that isn’t too spicy, but if you like your sauce hot then add a hot chili when you sauté everything, or just a pinch of cayenne or hot sauce. This is a tart and sweet sauce. As with all recipes that call for fruit, the sweetness may need to be adjusted depending on how sweet your fruits are, but use the ripest apricots you can find.

2 T. Peanut Oil
1 Small Yellow Onion, roughly chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
6 Medium Sized Apricots, pits removed and sliced about 1⁄2 inch thick
1⁄2 C. Vegetable Broth or Water
1⁄4 t. Ginger, ground
1⁄4 t. Coriander, ground
A few pinches Fresh Black Pepper
1⁄4 C. Molasses
2 T. Pure Maple Syrup
2 T. Tomato Paste
3 T. Soy Sauce
1 t. Liquid Smoke

1. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat sauté onions in oil for seven to ten minutes, until browned.

2. Add garlic, sauté two more minutes.

3. Add vegetable broth or water to deglaze the pan.

4. Add apricots, black pepper, ginger and coriander. Cover and bring to a boil.

5. Once boiling, lower the heat to medium-low and let cook for about ten minutes, until apricots are mushy.

6. Uncover and add the remaining ingredients, cook for about ten more minutes, stirring often and mashing the apricots as you stir. Taste the sauce and adjust the sweetness if necessary.

7. Remove from heat and let cool until it’s not steaming, stir occasionally to speed up the cooling. Transfer to a blender or food processor and purée until completely smooth. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to use.

Pomegranate BBQ Sauce
This is a favorite from Vegan With a Vengeance. I love the floral taste of pomegranate and a little of the molasses goes a long way. I realize pomegranate molasses is an esoteric ingredient, but it’s one of those things I was dying to try and it was well worth hunting out. I was even able to find it at the shabby grocery store around the corner from my apartment, but I think any well-stocked “gourmet” store will have it, if not, try a Middle Eastern grocery. Rumor has it this sauce goes very well with margaritas!

1 T. Peanut Oil
1 C. Shallots, minced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
A few pinches of Fresh Black Pepper
1⁄2 t. Chinese Five Spice Powder
2 C. Veggie Broth or Water
6 oz. Tomato Paste
2 T. Creamy Natural Peanut Butter
2 T. Pomegranate Molasses
2 T. Tamari or Soy Sauce
1⁄4 C. Pure Maple Syrup
1 t. Hot Sauce (or more to taste)
1 t. Liquid Smoke

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté the shallots in peanut oil for about five minutes.

2. Add garlic and five spice powder, sauté one minute more.

3. Add veggie broth and bring to a simmer. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently.

4. Remove from heat.

Orange Ginger Maple BBQ Sauce
I wanted to add a little Asian flair to my barbeque sauce so I went for some anise, ginger and mirin. Orange zest and juice adds just the right amount flavor.

2 T. Canola Oil (any veg oil will do)
1 Medium Yellow Onion, chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
2 T. Fresh Ginger, chopped
1⁄2 t. Anise Seed, crushed
A few pinches of Fresh Black Pepper
3 T. Mirin (or Red Wine)
15 oz. Stewed Tomatoes
6 oz. Tomato Paste
Zest of 1⁄2 an Orange
Juice of an Orange
1 T. Soy Sauce
1⁄4 C. Water
1 t. Liquid Smoke (optional)
3 T. Pure Maple Syrup

1. In a saucepan over medium-high heat sauté onions in oil five minutes, until translucent.

2. Add garlic, ginger, anise, black pepper, and sauté five more minutes. Add mirin to deglaze the pan.

3. Add stewed tomatoes, orange juice, soy sauce, water and allspice and bring to a low boil, uncovered.

4. You may need to lower the heat a bit. Let boil about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove from heat and let cool just enough so that you can put it in the blender. It takes about 15 minutes for it to cool down enough, so it’s not steaming like crazy.

6. Add maple syrup and liquid smoke and purée. Serve over tofu, tempeh, seitan or whatever you want.

Isa Chandra Moskowitz is author of Vegan With a Vengeance: Over 150 Delicious, Cheap, Animal-Free Recipes That Rock (Marlowe & Company) and creator and co-host of the DIY cooking show The Post Punk Kitchen. To learn more visit

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