Vegan Char Siu Seitan (Chinese Vegan BBQ)

April 12, 2021
Try this simple vegan bbq alternative to still enjoy that smoky flavor with a chewy and crispy texture. Char siu is a savory and sweet barbecue. This time around I've simplified the dish further while taking the texture to another level. The ingredients aren't too difficult to find, either. I have tried mushrooms, tofu, and vital wheat gluten (seitan) which is a common meat replacement you can find in Chinese grocery shops or online. This Chinese vegan bbq marinade can be used for any of the above.

As implied in the name, vital wheat gluten is not gluten-free so if you are and you're a fan of that chewy, moreish texture, I recommend using firm tofu. Tip: freeze your tofu (for at least one day or overnight), thaw, and squeeze out the water before using for the best texture.
Char Siu Seitan on a white plate

Vegan Char Siu Seitan (Chinese Vegan BBQ)

Recipe Type: Hearty Entrees
utensils YIELDS 2 servings
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  • 3 cups Seitan, mushrooms or tofu
  • 2 tbsp Hoisin sauce (vegan)
  • 2 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp Chinese Five spice
  • 1 tsp Shao Xing chinese rice wine
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • 1 tsp Natural red food coloring (optional, for the color)
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1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/356°F.

2. Combine the hoisin sauce with light soy sauce and tomato sauce. Add the shao xing/Chinese rice wine and optional food coloring. If you don’t have shao xing, you can use dry sherry, mirin (but this will be sweeter) or sake.

3. Stir in the five spice and pepper. Your marinade is now complete.

4. If using tofu: Drain the tofu, press gently, slice once horizontally then once vertically. This means you’ll end up with four long rectangular blocks. Coat in the marinade. It’s okay for these blocks to look pretty large. You’ll slice them further after the marinade forms a crunchy bbq crust.

If using mushrooms: Rinse mushrooms, slice into quarters or thick chunks, and coat in the marinade. Make sure the slices aren’t too thin because they shrink in the oven.

If using wheat gluten: Roll into long sausage shapes and coast in the marinade.
I used a brush to ensure they were coated evenly with as much of the marinade as I could use. If you can, I recommend this method.

5. Bake for 25 minutes. The bbq should appear slightly charred as in the photos.

6. Slice and they’re ready to serve. Enjoy! I served mine with kale, pumpkin, and avocado. You could serve with bok choy and rice or noodles as well.

Also see: Vegan Stir Fried Eggplant in Garlic Sauce

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Photo: Debbie Tan

Debbie was born in Malaysia and grew up in New Zealand. She loves writing, musicals, and living a plant based life. A digital marketer by day, she is also passionate about visual storytelling. She hopes to show that living a more sustainable and compassionate lifestyle can be simple and fun! Debbie has volunteered for social and environmental causes over the years, and interviewed Dr Jane Goodall on her 2018 world tour. Visit her Instagram @debbietan96 for snaps of delicious food and plants, and YouTube for music.


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