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Feb 9, 2005 12:16 AM

Butter Substitute/Vegan Buffalo wings

  • p

In making a vegan version of buffalo wings for my Superbowl party this year, I came across a pretty good butter substitute. It's called Soy Garden (4th product in the link below) and it actually tastes like butter. There's no hydrogenated fats in it. I don't know how it stacks up in the saturated fats department, since that wasn't a factor for me. I gave the tub to my friend to take home, or i'd go check. Stop and Shop carries it (in NY at least), but I would imagine your local health food store would as well.

For the vegan wings I used tofu that I cut in half, drained (and sandwich between cookie sheets and paper towels, with some 28 oz tomato cans on top for at least 1/2 hour) and marinated in Frank's RedHot and then cut up into cubes and threw into the deep fryer (before the chicken wings went in). The sauce was the Soy Garden butter with Frank's Hot Sauce. I also like to throw quirky stuff in my wing sauce and this years' version had fresh basil, dried oregano, evaporated cane juice (i.e. organic sugar), garlic powder and unfiltered apple cider vinegar. I used the same sauce with real butter for the chicken version.


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  1. I would never be a vegetarian, so I suppose it's none of my concern, but perhaps someone would explain to me why vegetarians spend so much time and effort trying to make vegetables look and taste like meat? I just don't get it - if you want meat, eat meat, if you want vegetables, eat vegetables.

    If you cut the tofu into cubes, just patted them dry, then deep fat fried them, and served them up with some thinly sliced scallions, grated daikon, grated ginger, and bonito threads (ok, ok... don't use the fish), and some shoyu... you would have a really good, authentic Japanese appetizer.

    14 Replies
    1. re: applehome

      I'm no vegetarian and often curse them while trying to think up good dinner party menus that would satisfy my meat- and non-meat-eating friends alike but I think it's admirable of the vegetarians who stick it out to avoid meat for their principles on animal rights, saving the earth or fill-in-the-blank cause. It's pretty hard to have and keep idealistic convictions much less alter your entire way of eating when you love food, as all chowhounds do. So if your ideals tell you you shouldn't love buffalo wings but your taste buds scream for them, I suppose that's why people who don't want to eat meat make meat-like foods.

      Though I will probably never make vegan buffalo wings, I am glad to have access to a margarine-free recipe that could approximate it, should I ever need it.

      1. re: applehome

        I was thinking the same thing.

        I make the assumption, possibly wrong, that vegans are such due to moral problems with the subjugation of animals. (I further assume that vegetarians may be merely interested in health concerns.) So if you think it's wrong to eat meat, why mimic it? Why pretend to do something you find distasteful?

        As you say, not that it's any of my business, of course!

        1. re: danna

          First, I think many, if not most, vegetarians are adult-onset vegetarians: they grew up eating animal foods, developed a taste for animal foods, then decided that tasty as the foods may be, they are repugnant to their ethics. It doesn't mean that they stop craving burgers or bacon or cheese. If they can find something that sort of resembles bacon, but doesn't involve killing any pigs, what's the harm?

          That being said, it sounds like the OP is not vegan, but was cooking for vegans. A natural instinct for many people who don't know what to cook for vegetarians, or don't want them to feel left out when the omnivores are eating buffalo wings, is to try to vegetarianize a meat dish. Personally, as someone who tries to be vegan herself, I would be just as happy with a plate of hummus and baba ghanoush (though the deep-fried tofu sounds pretty darned good, frankly).

          1. re: Grace

            I ate meat til i was about 13, and after seeing the birth of animals, and butchering of animals (no, not "faces of death" - real life!) i realized i didn't like the actual idea of eating an animal. i always loved the flavors used to season meat, that arent typically used on veggies. i also associate certain food with events - hamburgers at bbqs, wings for i like to have something that has similar flavors to the foods i once loved.

            its no fun to be at a party watching people eat wings its much more fun to be a part of it and have something messy and spicy to eat along with everyone else!

            for my veggie "wings" this year i used the veggie patch brand wings, deep fried and tossed in franks wing sauce, and some hot sauce. gardenburger makes a prepared wing in sauce, but i dont like its flavor (had them at least years superbowl party). doing it my way i can control the flavor and heat! (im not vegan, so if you're trying it my way double check the ingredients).

        2. re: applehome

          I generally agree with you and think dishes with "mock" chicken and the like are just gross. But buffalo wings aren't about meat flavor, it's about spicy sauce. The chicken is just a carrier for the spicy sauce. So I don't really think your observation applies here, and think what Paul did is pretty clever.

          1. re: Chris VR

            So you really think there's no point to using chicken and that one might as well use tofu because it's "all about the sauce?"

            1. re: KB

              I enjoy buffalo shrimp as much as I enjoy buffalo chicken. The primary flavor I enjoy in both cases is the sauce, not the shrimp/chicken. So yes, I do think a "Buffalo sauce" dish is all about the sauce, not what it's put on.

              1. re: Chris VR

                Well - you're talking to a guy that thinks that using tenders instead of wings totally misses the experience - the flavor, the texture, the eating off the bone... so you can imagine what I feel about tofu and shrimp. Do you have a similar reaction to all strong or spicy sauces - i.e., the food item doesn't matter as long as the sauce is there? Or is this feeling restricted to Buffalo whatevers?

                1. re: applehome

                  OK, look, I love buffalo wings, and I agree, tenders vs. wings don't cut it when I want buffalo wings. I agree that much of the entire experience for me comes from the texture and the eating off the bone. But the taste doesn't. The majority of the taste in buffalo wings has nothing to do with what the vehicle for the sauce is.

                  To say "you may as well never make buffalo tofu because without the chicken wings there's absolutely no point to the dish" (as has been more or less said here) is, in my opinion, wrong. For someone who doesn't eat chicken but still want thats buffalo sauce flavor, buffalo tofu is a fine substitute. Someone who doesn't eat chicken is also more than likely skeeved out by all the other things you and I like about gnawing those tasty bits off a bone. They don't want the "entire experience". They want buffalo sauce. If you gave ME the option of chicken vs tofu, there's be no contest, but I eat chicken wings.

                  You asked "why [do] vegetarians spend so much time and effort trying to make vegetables look and taste like meat? I just don't get it - if you want meat, eat meat, if you want vegetables, eat vegetables." I don't think buffalo tofu is a case of someone trying to make tofu look and taste like meat. I think it's a case of making tofu look and taste like buffalo sauce, which gives NON-MEAT EATERS everything they personally would want from the buffalo wing experience. And I agree that someone who REALLY wants a buffalo wing isn't going to find buffalo tofu an equal substitute. But for many people, buffalo flavor is about what the sauce tastes like, not all the rest of what goes into a buffalo wing. That's why people eat tenders. Someone who eats buffalo tenders would probably be just as happy with buffalo tofu if they had to cut chicken out of their diet. That's all I'm saying.

                  1. re: Chris VR

                    I get your point. Maybe this goes back to that whole authenticity thing - you're taking something from which you want some of the experience (the sauce) and making something else out of it. There's no question, in this case, what is and isn't authentic - since the origin and "pedigree" of buffalo wings are very easy to establish. But inauthentic doesn't immediately disqualify it as not being good. And I'll buy that because it's "authentic" sauce, it isn't the same, conceptually, as these veggie burgers and hot dogs that people keep saying, "these are actually pretty good"... No, they're not pretty good. Not even close.

                    Maybe I'm just on an anti-vegetarian kick because my 85 year old father in law just went through an experience. He had a colonoscopy because his red blood cell count had gone to nil and he felt weak - they suspected GI bleeding problems. They found nothing with the procedure. But then, they asked him some questions and figured out that since one of his nephews had moved in several months ago to help take care of him, he had eaten no meat - the kid was a vegetarian.

                    Hey folks - big news - we're omnivores!

                    1. re: applehome

                      And every other primate is an herbivore. Humans might be in an evolutionary transition from herbivore to omnivore, but many of us still thrive on vegetarian diets. I understand if it's not for you, but there's no need to knock other people for trying it.

                      1. re: Grace

                        Folks, we're not here to make judgements on the food choices others make. Chow and let chow, and please leave the flame wars at the door. Let's get back to food. Thanks.

          2. re: applehome

            I've been veg for about 10 years (since I was 16) and the taste for meat does not go away. I'm constantly searching for ways to replicate the foods I used to love. I actually found this page because I was searching 'vegetarian buffalo wings' since I was having a huge craving. I don't eat meat because I don't like thinking that I'm responsible for suffering. If other people want to, thats fine, but I can't. That said, I still loove many meaty tastes (if anybody ever figures out vegetarian cappicoli I'll be their slave for life).

            1. re: applehome

              I'm vegan and was a vegetarian beforehand, so perhaps I can enlighten you. Just because one elects not to eat meat, doesn't mean they don't like it. I have both moral objections as well as health concerns that prevent me from eating animals and animal products. That doesn't mean I don't miss the taste. I happen to really like bacon, so tempeh bacon or soy based bacon bits are a savior. I like cheese burgers, so boca patties and soy cheese are a good alternative. My choice not to eat animal products shouldn't mean I can't eat the things I enjoy, it just makes my cooking that much more creative.

            2. Whew; with all due respect, as a former vegetarian, I am SO glad I am willing to eat dead animals.