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Vegetarian Chili

February 27, 2010

Rainy, gloomy weather last night called for some healthy comfort food. He created a bean and tofu powered chili. It was a blend of  carrot, onion, corn, Okara, tofu, red bell peppers, kidney beans, Japanese black beans, chicken broth (can be substituted for vege broth, making it completely vegetarian) and spices. He served it over rice, topped with cheese, green onion, tortilla chips, and some nonfat yogurt. Check out the recipe below to make it yourself!

After dinner, we watched Food, Inc.  It is scary to think how far removed we are from what we put in our bodies every day.  On the other hand, it makes me appreciate living in the countryside of Japan. We’ve seen the fishermen and their fresh catches of the day. We live near rice fields, and have eaten rice we helped to plant and harvest. We’ve been given countless vegetables, mostly delicious Awaji onions, straight from the fields, and we’ve been to the  milk farm, where milk produced and delivered to all stores and schools on the island. It’s a simple concept but definitely one we need to be reminded of, especially when we’re back home – buy locally and buy in season.


Vegetarian Chili

Serves 5


  • 1 can red kidney beans (drained – reserve liquid)
  • 1 cup (approx) black sasage beans, soaked and drained (any other beans work fine)
  • 1 can chopped tomato
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 carrot, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 block momen (firm) tofu, drained and crumbled
  • 1/2 – 1 cup (approx) okara
  • 2 cups broth (veggie or chicken)


  • 2-3 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • dash white pepper
  • dash Old Bay seasoning
  • dash red pepper
  • pinch oregano


  • 1 oz dark chocolate (optional)
  • 1 – 2 tbsp tomato paste or ketchup (to add tomato flavor/acid)
  • 3 -4 tbsp beer/wine or rice wine
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • soy sauce (to taste)
  • olive oil

1 – Add small amount of olive oil to pot, then add spices and fry over medium heat for about 30 seconds. Sweat onion, garlic and carrot in seasoned oil.
2 – Add beans and tomato to pan, with about half of the broth.
3 – In separate wok, stir fry crumbled tofu in a little oil. Season with soy sauce, salt/pepper, some of the broth. Cook until somewhat dry and crumbly. Add to pot.
4 – In wok, stir fry okara until dry – season with soy sauce and broth. Add to pot in small portions until chili reaches desired thickness and texture.
5 – Season chili with remaining ingredients – add broth or alcohol for ingredients. Simmer over low heat until beans are tender and okara/tofu are blended into chili and look like ground meat.

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