If you ever want to taste America, this is your recipe. These Tofu BBQ Wings & Ranch dressing are, quite frankly, lick your fingers, eat every one, juicy, crisp, spicy, sweet decadence.
Make them. Now.
Yes, they’re a bar snack. But they’re a mighty fine one at that, with the added bonus of being:
- baked not fried;
- vegan (of course);
- gluten-free (you’re welcome);
- simple to make (ditto);
- dipped into a silky, tahini-based ranch; and
- so, so, so delicious.
But what makes this recipe really special for me is that today is our first wedding anniversary, and this is our snack celebration!
Well, you know how I’m always talking about Portland? Portland, Portland, Portland. Because the second we arrived in Oregon for our secret wedding (sorry not sorry) we knew, with huge grins on our faces and a rising sense of unadulterated thrill in our guts, that it was just the most perfect plan we could have hatched.
Dan asked me the other day if I’d enjoyed the first year of being married (and for anyone who doesn’t know us, we’ll be celebrating our 11 year-together anniversary in 10 days). And I just said “yes”, because it would have taken me a good hour to give the real answer…
Which is that pretty much every day in the past year, we have had a silly joke, conversation, reminiscence, dream or savoured-upon recollection of how much being married has changed our lives, and how magical our wedding was and how much I enjoy saying “hello husband” and love being called “wife”.
Ahem. Right then. Back to those wings…
Our typical as you can get (read: perfect) apartment in Portland was an approximate 30 second walk from a great bar (what Americans call a “dive bar” – LOVE that), as you’ll already have read when I’ve gone on about it before, here. Anyway, at the end of our first jet-lagged, walked-all-over-the-city day, having been blinded by it’s absurd foresty, arty, rainy, awesomeness, we headed across the street to Hungry Tiger, where within 10 minutes my face, hands and shirt were pretty much covered in the ungodly amazingness that is their ‘Tofu Vings’.
I have never forgotten that taste, that moment, the fact that we had arrived. We were 4,910 miles across the globe. We were getting married. We had to show ID in bars and there was no way I was going to understand US tipping culture in 2 weeks. This was the taste of America and our crazy adventure.
And this is my celebration in recipe form of all of the above.
And my thank you to Dan, who I knew, within seconds of meeting, was going to be in my life forever. Sometimes, you get lucky. He knows the rest.
So, along with the magic under an Oregonian sun, this is a pretty magical recipe too. Yes, it’s simple, but actually getting something to turn out well that is at once crisp, juicy and sticky is almost scientific in its formula, which is why I guess lots of people rave about the ‘perfect wing’.
- For the tofu
- 1 block (250-300g) firm tofu
- 2 tbsp gram flour + 3 tbsp water
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried onion granules
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- For the BBQ sauce
- 1 tin tomatoes (400g), puréed
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp good soy sauce
- Juice of ½ an orange
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried chilli flakes (or cayenne pepper)
- Black pepper
- For the ranch
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 4 tbsp water
- Handful of fresh dill leaves (about 10g)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp dijon mustard
- ½ tsp vinegar (apple cider, red wine)
- 1 tsp dried marjoram or oregano
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- THE DAY BEFORE: cut the block of tofu into 5 slices, each about 1 cm thick, then cut each slice in half again so you have 10 pieces. Place between sheets of kitchen paper on a plate and freeze. Remove from the freezer a couple of hours before you want to start cooking, in order to defrost.
- Heat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas Mark 6.
- Once the tofu has defrosted, press between sheets of kitchen paper until most of the water has gone (you can do this using a heavy book). You don't the tofu to be so dry that it crumbles, but just to remove most of the water.
- Combine the ingredients for the tofu coating 'batter' in a bowl.
- Dip each tofu wing into the batter to fully coat and place on a non-stick baking tray, greased with a little oil if needed.
- Place on the top shelf of the oven and cook for 30 minutes, turning once half way through.
- Next, put the BBQ sauce on to simmer. Combine all the ingredients and cook on a medium heat on the hob, covering with a lid once it starts to bubble and spit. You want a thick sauce, so simmer for 20-30 minutes.
- While the wings and BBQ sauce is cooking, make the ranch. Put all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz until smooth.
- Once the wings have been cooking for 30 minutes, remove from the oven. Carefully place each one in the BBQ sauce, coat using a spoon, then place back onto the baking tray.
- Cook for a further 10 minutes, arrange on a plate with the ranch and serve!
If you like these, you’ll love my cauliflower version.