Chinese Chili, Pork and Tofu with lots of Chinese flavor in a comforting chili.
It is a cool, crisp morning already here in Georgia. The kind of morning that is perfect for making chili. Chinese chili that is. Spice it up a little bit and put a twist in your ordinary chili. Bump up the nutrition, get out the chopsticks and have Chinese Chili.
This is such a whimsical dish. It actually started as something entirely different, minced pork with tofu. For years now, my hubby has been reminiscing about a dish his best friend, Calvin, made him. Neville, my hubby, spent his teenage years in Singapore where he met Calvin and they have been friends ever since. Calvin is quite a good cook and gave Neville his recipe for minced pork with tofu minus any measurements of ingredients! So one day I decide I am finally going to make it. I get the recipe out and decide to just go for it. Even though minced pork with tofu is a fairly common Chinese dish I had never had it and didn’t know anything about it. I just decided to fly blind. I switched out the ground pork for pork tenderloin and started on my way. About 3/4 of the way through I knew I was in trouble. It didn’t look right and was kind of bland. Hmmm. I yell down to Neville who is outside playing with our daughter, “What is this suppose to be like”. He yells back “Well, kind of like chili”. Light bulb moment – Chinese chili was born.
Well, that night I doctored up the dish so we could eat it and started again. This time making my own idea of what Chinese chili would be. I kept the tofu – my daughter loves tofu. Don’t worry if you are squeamish about tofu, it really just blends in and takes on the taste of whatever you are making. I switched the pork tenderloin for ground chicken (You can use ground turkey, too), added some of my favorite Asian flavors like black bean sauce and Chinese 5 spice powder and voila we had Chinese chili.
What would chili be without toppings, BORING! So to increase the chances of my daughter eating the chili, I topped it with chow mein noodles and avocado. More of her favorite foods. I also added a little cilantro for me – I love cilantro. Now the test, would my daughter eat it and would my Mom who was over for dinner eat it?? Yeah! Clean bowls and a big thumbs up. Chinese chili was a hit in our house.
In case you are wondering about some of the ingredients, my local grocery store does stock them all. Although Chinese 5 spice powder is a spice it is in the International section in my grocery store. It is a combination of five spices – usually anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan peppers and fennel seed. If you cannot find it substitute with a little cinnamon, cloves and fennel seeds if you have them. Mirin is a sweet Japanese condiment and you could substitute Sake. If you cannot find black bean sauce then you could use oyster or hoisin sauce. The flavor would be slightly different. Also the tofu I used was a “lite” tofu not soft. It has fewer calories then the regular tofu and I found that in the produce section of my grocery store. If you happen to have an Asian market by you, go there. All of this will be much cheaper. I always try to get my soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, etc there. A lot of common spices are also much cheaper. Save yourself some $$$.
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Happy Healthy Eating,
But wait, there’s more. Check out these delicious, healthy Chinese recipes: