August 16, 2010

Another in the ‘Sentence Series’…

One food I’ll never eat is…

I suppose for this to be valid, I’d have to know what kind of food is out there in this big world of ours.

I think a better sentence for me would be, One food I’ll never eat AGAIN is…! The one big one here in Taiwan is CHO DOFU (sp?). Translated – Stinky Tofu. To me, this has got to be one of the most revolting food items that I have ever seen, had the displeasure of smelling, and the unfortunate opportunity of tasting.

Stinky tofu

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Stinky tofu

Deep fried version of stinky tofu
Chinese 臭豆腐
Literal meaning stinky tofu
– Romanization chhiu2 theu5 fuh
– Hanyu Pinyin chòu dòufu
– Hokkien POJ chhàu-tāu-hū
– Jyutping cau3 dau6 fu6

Stinky tofu is a form of fermented tofu that has a strong odor. It is a popular snack in East and Southeast Asia, particularly Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Mainland China, where it is usually found at night markets or roadside stands, or as a side dish in lunch bars.


1 Production
2 Preparation
3 Regional
3.1 Mainland China
3.2 Hong Kong
3.3 Taiwan
4 In popular culture
5 References
6 See also

Unlike cheese, stinky tofu fermentation does not have fixed formula for starter bacteria; wide regional and individual variations exist in manufacture and preparation.[1]

The traditional method for producing stinky tofu is to prepare a brine made from fermented milk, vegetables, and meat; the brine can also include dried shrimp, amaranth greens, mustard greens, bamboo shoots, and Chinese herbs.[2] The brine fermentation can take as long as several months. Although stinky tofu is very popular in East and Southeast Asia, not many households prepare stinky tofu brine at home due to its strong odor, especially in metro-residential areas.[1]

Even though the traditional method is still widely practiced by street vendors, modern factories often use quicker methods to mass produce stinky tofu. Fresh tofu is marinated in prepared brine for only a day or two, especially for fried or boiled cooking purpose.[3] The process only adds odor to the marinated tofu instead of letting it ferment completely.[1] The nature of the stinky tofu production process makes it extremely difficult to pass government food regulation even in Asia. The diversity and lack of formulated methods also makes it nearly impossible for any government to regulate and inspect.[1][4] In Asia, no stinky tofu factories were ever officially licensed or constantly monitored; in most cases, government inspection can only focus on the cooking procedure and ventilation.[5]

In North America, stinky tofu is often “home-made” in cities with significant numbers of Asian immigrants. For example, some Asian tofu factories in Vancouver, Canada produce stinky tofu underground as a side-business to avoid government inspections.[6]


Mala stinky tofu.
Stinky tofu can be eaten cold, steamed, stewed, or most commonly, fried. It is often accompanied by chili sauce. The color varies from the golden fried Zhejiang-style to the black typical of Hunan-style stinky tofu.[2]

From a distance, the odor of stinky tofu is said to resemble that of rotten garbage or manure, even by its enthusiasts. In some instances the taste has even been compared to rotten meat. In spite of stinky tofu’s smell, most say the flavor is surprisingly mild. It is said the more it smells, the ‘better’ its flavor.[2] Some few people have compared it to the taste of blue cheese.[7] It has also been compared to foie gras.


A stinky tofu stall in Keelung, Taiwan
Mainland China

Stinky tofu is made and consumed in different ways in various areas of China. For example, the types of dried stinky tofu made in Changsha and Shaoxing are both very popular, but they are made with different methods, and the resulting flavors are very different. The most famous shop for stinky tofu in Changsha, Huo Gong Dian, makes the tofu with yellow soybeans marinated in seasoning. The stinky tofu sold in Tianjin is mostly made in the Nanjing style, with a mild aroma. In Shanghai, stinky tofu is fried and sold on streets, typically served with a spicy or sweet sauce. In Chongqing, stinky tofu on the streets is usually fried and dipped in a mixture of, typically, coriander (cilantro) leaves, scallions, chili powder, Sichuan pepper and oil. Stinky tofu is also sometimes dipped in Sichuan spicy hot pots.

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, stinky tofu is a trademark street food, along with fishballs and beef balls. The street style is rather plain. It is deep fried fresh at hawkers’ stalls and at dai pai dongs. It is sold by the bag, and is well-known for the tremendous amount of grease it contains. Hong Kong-style stinky tofu is traditionally eaten with hoisin sauce.


Stinky tofu is one of the most recognizable dishes in Taiwan. It is very commonly served on roadside stands and in night markets. It is usually served deep fried (often served drizzled with sauce and topped with sour pickled vegetables), grilled, or added to a Sichuan mala soup base (with solid goose blood.)

In popular culture

In the TV series Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, host Andrew Zimmern sampled stinky tofu in Taiwan. While he enjoyed the griddled variety sold by street vendors in Shenkeng, he could not stand the two dishes – cow stomach sandwich (with fried stinky tofu as the bun) and raw stinky tofu salad with Century eggs – he was served at “Dai’s House of Unique Stink” in Taipei. He commented that the 14-day-old stinky tofu was overpowering with its rotten taste.[8]

During the Disney Channel Games of 2008, participants were able to sample foods from multiple cultures. One of these dishes was stinky tofu. Though the host and several participants enjoyed it, many stayed away due to the name. Many questioned why one would give the food such a name.

In the reality show The Amazing Race Asia Season 3, competitors must eat a big bowl of stinky tofu in one of the Taiwan challenges segment.

In Season 10 of the UK version of the reality television show Big Brother, Marcus had to brush his teeth with Stinky tofu as part of one of the challenges.

Featured in season 2 of The Next Iron Chef as a secret ingredient in the cook-off challenge.


The above was copied from WIKIPEDIA. This is about the best version of describing what this dish is. WAY too many people in Taiwan love this stuff. Quite honestly, from a North American point of view, you can smell this stuff from two or three blocks away. Depending on the wind strength, you may even smell it further! I found, the ONE AND ONLY TIME that I tried to eat it, the only way to do so was to plug my nose. Even after the stuff is out of your mouth, the aftertaste and after-aroma (aka breath), is beyond repulsive.

I’ve heard that DURIAN is not allowed to be transported on airlines unless it is FROZEN SOLID due to its overpowering stench. Well, durian is a heck of a lot sweeter smelling and tasting than stinky tofu!


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s