Game Day Fare – BBQ Ribs

I hate being typecast. Because I’m Japanese, some people once thought I only cooked Japanese food, especially as I had written a Japanese cookbook. Now that I’m known for Artisan Vegan Cheese, people think I gorge on cheese all the time. But I don’t. I eat mostly fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. Fresh, simple, everyday stuff, from juices and smoothies to salads and stir-fry. Like a lot of other vegans. Still, when I cook for others, my leanings are Italian and French, and I’ll tinker in the kitchen creating the perfect repast. I’m not your veggie burger and vegan bufflao wings gal.  But Super Bowl Sunday is coming up, and my husband likes his grub.

Yesterday, smiling sweetly, he put in his order. To me, not the local diner. Well, I happen to be teaching a vegan cheese class at my house on February 3rd (yes, not everyone is glued to the Super Bowl!), so he’ll be getting to nibble on plenty of cheesy dishes. But Gruyere Fondue is just not up his alley when he’s watching tight end Vernon Davis make a touchdown (and do people know that he is vegetarian or close to it?).  My husband would prefer something a bit more American, such as burgers with fat oven fries, really good nachos with black beans and cheddar, maybe some chewy ribs.

BBQ Ribs

Here’s where I concur. Burgers and nachos are great, but even I can sink my teeth into some saucy, chewy, sweet and spicy ribs. In fact, this is a dish that I look forward to on those picnic holidays – the 4th of July, Labor Day, and any hot day in summer. And it’s so easy that even with my class, I’ll be able to put this together in no time flat.

What are they made of? Not seitan. These are made of something called bean curd sticks. They are essentially yuba sticks (you know, the skin that forms on soy milk when it’s heated too long!). Yuba that has been folded and crunched into a long stick forms the base of the chewiest ribs on the planet. Dripping in the best barbeque sauce ever, and of course, the requisite amount of grease. Yes, this is just one of those dishes that taste better with more fat (I use olive oil). You can, of course, make this oil-free, but you won’t have as much fun wiping your chin.  And get ready to get addicted.



BBQ Ribs

Author: Miyoko Schinner
  • 1 lb. Bean Curd Sticks or Yuba Sticks (available only in Asian grocery stores – they are sold dried and look like yellow crumpled paper sticks about a foot long)
  • Large rectangular pan or dish deep enough to accommodate the contents of the package
  • The BBQ Sauce:
  • 2 six-ounce cans tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar or maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • ½ teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 6 cloves garlic (or more!), minced
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (canned), minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • ¾ cup water
  • For baking: 1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil
  1. [b]The Day Before[/b]: Place the bean curd sticks in the pan and cover with water. They will initially float but as they soak up the water, will become immersed. Cover with plastic wrap or another cover and allow to sit for 24 hours on your counter. They can soak several hours longer if that is more convenient. They will become soft and white. Before using, cut them into 6″ lengths to make for easier eating.
  2. [b]The BBQ Sauce[/b]: You can make this anytime. I generally mix it in a large bowl the day I am making the ribs, but you can make ahead and store in the fridge. To make it, simply combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
  3. [b]To Bake the Ribs:[/b] Preheat the oven to 400°.
  4. Prepare a large baking sheet (or two) by lining with parchment paper. Coat with the olive oil. (Of course, more oil means more calories, but in this case, it also means more flavor.) Drain the water from the yuba sticks. Toss the yuba sticks in the BBQ sauce so that they are well coated. Spread them on the prepared baking pan(s) in a single layer and toss gently to coat them with the oil on the pan. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes until browned and somewhat blackened in parts. If they are still limp, they won’t be as good. They should be good and brown and somewhat firm. If there is any residual barbecue sauce in the bowl, toss the ribs in it.


  1. These sound great and perfect for Super Bowl Sunday eating. Do you know where I could find bean curd sticks in San Francisco? I see that Hodo Soy in Ferry Plaza sells the tofu skin but I don’t think it is dried or in stick form. I will look in Chinatown markets but would appreciate knowing of a specific market if you or your readers know. Thanks for including the photo of the package.

    • Susan, every Asian grocery store I’ve ever been to has them. Chinatown, Clement Street, etc.

      • I should clarify Asian – the Japanese stores in Japantown don’t have this, as it is a Chinese product. It’s a dried form of yuba, and makes the most convincing ribs ever!

      • Thanks Miyoko. I did find them in the first Chinese market I checked—at 1415 Stockton, San Francisco. They are behind the counter.

  2. susie_leger says:

    A friend and I have been trying to find the dried bean curd sticks. We tried Shreveport, LA and they don’t know what we’re asking for. Is there anywhere we can order them online in the United States? We tried, and everything we find is out of the country. We aren’t new to the net, so I don’t know what we’re doing wrong. Help!

  3. Christina says:

    Thank you for sharing this!!

    I was interested in some of your cookbooks and after checking out the site, and what looks like an awesome rib recipe, I had to buy them. Can’t wait to try the ribs! I immediately texted my husband to pick up the ingredients..


  4. If you soak them in veg stock instead of water
    will there be more flavor?

  5. LOL I think I already have in my pantry everything I need to make these ribs! If I’m missing anything then it’s the canned tomato paste 🙂

    I’m soaking the bean curd sticks tonight!


    • Seriously, what kind of person keeps bean curd sticks around? 🙂 I guess the kind that bakes with okara!

    • Kerry Plancon says:

      We freeze tomato paste by the tablespoonful and use them. I made this sauce the other day using frozen tomato paste and the seitan un ribs from The Homemade Vegan Pantry which everyone must buy as it’s amazing. Super Yummy!

  6. jancarpenter55 says:

    Hi there Miyoko! I tried the Game Day Ribs yesterday for the Fourth of July and was disappointed. The Bean Curd Sticks were soaked over 24 hours, and they were tough and chewy, and kinda gross. Did I do something wrong? I loved the BBQ sauce on them…just the faux ribs were beyond icky. Can you tell me what I did wrong, or if they are supposed to be like that. I’d love to know how to make them less like eating plastic. Thanks, Miyoko!

    • I’m not sure if you did anything wrong. Sometimes the Bean Curd Sticks need a longer soaking. You may want to try baking them at a slightly higher heat. They are good if a bit blackened and chewy on the outside while the inside is a little softer. Ovens differ in temperature, and if your yuba sticks are too tough, it may be that they baked too long at too low a temperature. I made them recently at a high altitude (where things need to bake longer), and forgot to adjust the temperature, and they came out really leathery. But they shouldn’t be beyond icky. People, including omnivores, usually love them. Or it may be that it’s just not your thing. It’s hard to say, but I’m guessing it had to do with a slow bake.

  7. I stopped using Yuba after learning about GMO soy.

    you can now buy non GMO bean sticks online!!

    check out or google Soy Curls.



  8. Oh Miyoko, you are just amazing and a girl after my own heart! I have been experimenting with vegan ethnic ingredients for years and I so LOVE what you do! I just wish that I found you sooner, your cheeses have been such a game changer for me, the only thing I really missed becoming vegan, and I am currently impatiently waiting for your book to come in! All of your recipes are so innovative and exciting, you can’t imagine how your generosity and creativity has expanded the horizons of this grandma!

    About 5 years ago I was the poster granny for borrowed time… 55+, 300+lbs, 2PAD smoker, high BP, cholesterol, you name it, fibromyalgia, arthritis, IBS, CFS, RA, and WXYZ, etc. LOL! I was on about 12 different medications, of course including those for depression! Though it came as no big surprise, being diagnosed with diabetes was the proverbial last straw. The medications may have got the numbers down, but I gained more weight, felt even worse, and they were apparently as bad as the disease itself. Even the ADA website offered no hope, but I was determined, so went to the research sites and dug. Turns out it was all about diet, and specifically a whole foods, low fat, plant based diet! I remembered seeing Forks over Knives too, so I just dove in! Long story a bit shorter, next Dr. visit we were both blown away by the changes in just one month! All my markers were normal or better, my diabetes was no more, all my ailments were starting to improve, and I had lost 25lbs! Fast forward… I am now officially healthy and a non-smoker! All together I’ve lost over 150lbs without even trying, eating all I want of delicious food, after a lifetime of “dieting” my way up past 300 lbs.! I know that sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. When you eat REAL food your body processes it properly! The SAD is poison, not food! I feel as if I have just started a new life…better late than never! And you help immensely with your recipes and awesome ingenious ideas, and generous sharing! Being on a fixed budget it isn’t always easy, but you sure do help! (I have plenty of hints and tips too!) Thank you from the bottom of my heart! You are so beautiful, in EVERY way! (Sorry for the ramble! I’m a “little” passionate!) Hugs to you Miyoko!

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story! It is always such an inspiration to hear stories like yours, and makes me want to shout it out to the world! I hope you do — tell everyone, get everyone on the bandwagon! I’m so glad that my recipes were able to help you make the transition — that is the highest compliment I can get! Thank you again, and my warmest wishes for your continued health!

    • Erika Lessard says:

      This is just wonderful to hear! I am a nurse so I think about these things a lot and definitely feel it is better to go WITHOUT prescription drugs whenever possible (some Are very important in some instances however…) This kind of story is so inspiring and just confirms how important food is in healing. So Happy for you Charzie and so appreciative to Miyoko for contributing to the health of humans and the planet, and for reducing the numbers of animals that are raised and slaughtered inhumanely.

  9. Miyoko, your ribs are delicious! To start with – what a creative idea to use yuba sticks. I love it when people think outside the box. Your sauce recipe is perfect, one I will use from now on for anything requiring BBQ sauce, vegetarian or non veg. I cooked the ribs for 20 min at 400, tested them and the texture wasn’t right. Flipped them and cooked another 20 min at a little lower temp, and they were perfect. My husband eats vegetarian at home with me, but consumes meat when we go out and he loved them, too. The only tiny, tiny thing I didn’t like was there seemed to be a little water inside the ribs, so next time after soaking and cutting I will tip them up and see if any water drains out. Thanks so much for the recipe. I will be sharing it with my friends!

    • Thanks! ALso check out my seitan rib recipe in the Homemade Vegan Pantry. Truth be told, I have moved onto them — I like them even better.

  10. Hello I’ve never done this before. When you have soaked them, do you have to squeeze the water out?
    Thank you

  11. Thanks, Miyoko! I knew I had to be doing something wrong, since so far I’ve loved all your recipes. I’ll try them again with the slow bake…How long approximately? I live at 5700 feet elevation, and that might be messing me up too. Thanks for the input!

  12. It’s hard to say. Not sure if a slower bake is the thing – maybe higher temperature, shorter time, to blacken the outside but keep inside tender. It should be crispy on the outside, and tender-chewy on the inside.

  13. falling_james falling_james says:

    What an amazing find! Thank you Miyoko. Game Changer meal! I live at about 5300′ elevation and cooked these at 420F for 20 Min. flipped them and cooked for about 5 min more. I was a bit concerned they were not charing so I put them on the barbie directly over the coals for about 3-5 min per side…. Perfection. Our guests were deep into political debate but when these came out folks first commented on the look while continued their poly grumblings. but as they sunk their teeth in – the room changed, became calm… with just one dish the mood shifted. Again – Thank you. The ribz are chewy, sweet, med-hot and… well, um… meaty. Oh… and they disappeared fast…

  14. Love it when the conversation stops! These do require a bit of chewing! Glad you and your guests enjoyed them!


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