Saturday, November 5, 2011

Tofu Chili with Soy Sauce

This unconventional chili recipe from Mark Bittman's The Food Matters Cook Book surprises with asian flavors from ginger, cloves, soy sauce, and peanuts. It was different and I liked it, especially on these chilly fall days.

But...if a recipe title is Tofu Chili, I expect tofu to play a starring role. The recipe description lured me in with the promise of the tofu taking on "a tremendous amount of flavor." But I couldn't taste the tofu or barely even see it because it had been crumbled beyond recognition by all the required stirring. This is really a bean chili. And yes, it was a good bean chili, but damnit, I wanted a tofu chili. Still, consider this easy-to-prep chili if you're in the mood for something different.

Tofu (Bean!) Chili with Soy Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used 1)
  • 1 block extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 teaspoons five-spice powder or 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (I used cloves)
  • 1 dried hot chili, or to taste
  • 1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes including juice
  • 2 cups dried black, pinto, or soy beans, rinsed, picked over, and soaked if you like (I used pinto and soaked for about 4 hours)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce plus more for serving
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts, for garnish

  1. Put the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When it's hot, crumble in the tofu and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Add all but a handful of the scallions, the garlic, and the ginger and cook, stirring and scraping frequently, until the veggies soften, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the five-spice powder, dried chile, tomatoes, and beans. Add water to cover, bring the pot to a boil, and adjust the heat so that the beans bubble gently. Cover and cook, stirring every now and then. Check the beans for doneness every 15 minutes or so and add more water if necessary a little at a time.
  3. When the beans begin to soften (30 to 60 minutes, depending on the type of bean and if you've soaked it), add the soy sauce. Cook, stirring and checking, until the beans are completely tender, another 15 to 30 minutes). Fish out the chile, taste, and add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with remaining scallions and peanuts and add more soy sauce to taste. 


  1. The flavorings certainly do sound unconventional, but pretty intriguing. Too bad about the tofu disappearing. I wonder if there's really any way to make a tofu chili. I haven't really heard of that. I've made chili with tempeh before, which was good if you like the taste of tempeh. It's much better at holding its shape.

  2. That stinks about the tofu, however the chili doess look delish!