Japanese Yam Tofu Chili

Our 1st ever Chili Cook Off was a hit! We had eight wonderful, delicious chili dishes and lots of hungry judges. The chili that was voted #1 was Tami Cheng’s Japanese Yam Tofu Chili, and she was kind enough to share the recipe with us. 

Makes: about 3 quarts, serving 6
Total time: 3 hours



  • 3 dry New Mexico, or California Chilies, stems and seeds removed

  • 3 dry Ancho chilies, stems and seeds removed

  • 2 Chipotle chilies, stems and seeds removed

  • 1 big yellow onion, diced

  • 1 green bell pepper, diced

  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced

  • 1 Japanese yam (replaced with sweet potato if not in season)

  • 1 extra-firm tofu, diced

  • 1 can chipotle chilies in adobo sauce (use 2 chipotle chilies from the can and 2 tablespoons sauce for the chili, use the remaining for tofu marinade)

  • 1 can dark red kidney beans

  • 1 can black-eye beans

  • 1 can black beans

  • 1 1/2 can diced tomato with green chili

  • 1 cup vegetable stock

  • 2 tablespoons grape seed oil

  • 5 cloves garlic crushed

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin

  • 2 tablespoons coriander

  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce

  • some frozen corn

  • Salt to taste

  • 2 tablespoons bourbon (optional adult friendly)

  • Shredded cheese, Cilantro, green onion, radish, avocado (optional toppings)

Baked Tofu Marinade 

  • 1/4 cup orange juice

  • Chipotle chilies in adobo sauce (left over from chili)

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce


Dice tofu into small cubes and leave them in Marinade overnight. 

Grind the 3 types of chillis in a grinder - this makes the chili powder.

Dice all vegetables in roughly the same size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray or brush a little oil on a cookie sheet. Place the tofu on the oiled cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes turning once after the first 10 minutes.

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add yam, cumin, coriander, and dried oregano and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 2 mins. Add chili powder, soy sauce, and green pepper and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Drain and add all beans, tomato sauce, vegetable stock, bay leaves, 2 chipotle chilies from can and sauce. Stir to combine.

Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a bare simmer, add cocoa powder, baked tofu and cook. Transfer to a slower cooker for another 2 hours.  Add orange bell pepper and frozen corn, then cook for another 30 minutes.  Add more vegetable stock as necessary if chili becomes too thick or sticks to the bottom of the pan.

When cooked, add vodka or bourbon and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and whisk in.  For best results, allow chili to cool and refrigerate for at least one night before re-heating and serving, this allows the flavors to meld together.