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Stinky Tofu – Is it that Smelly?

There are a lot of good foods that smell bad, such as durian, then there are foods that smell and taste bad, like hakarl, but where does stinky tofu fit into the grand mix of things?

To read about durian click here.

To read about hakarl click here.

I was first introduced to stinky tofu during my time living in Xi’an 14 years ago. I remember being generally in awe during this first trip to Asia, for many reasons, but not least the smells, particularly pertaining to food.

To show how long ago this was I was actually on  date when we walked past a fairly busy stall and I noticed a pungent smell. “WTF is that”? Or words similar were muttered to which I was told that it was “stinky tofu” and did I want to try it? This may well have predated my street food days, but indeed I did want to try it!

Where to find stinky tofu?

Pretty much everywhere, although as the gentrification of China continues that food trucks are moving further out. That being said if you can find street food in China, you can find stinky tofu! Aside from China you will find it in Hong Kong, Taiwan and even in the odd China town.

How do you make stinky tofu?

Stinky tofu or Chòudòufu (臭豆腐), is a form of fermented tofu and it is this fermented element that appears to give it its stink.

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How do you eat stinky tofu?

It is boiled up in front of you and is usually served on a wood skewer, or as 6 separate cubes served a polystyrene plate with a tooth pick. You then eat it one by one! Or at least as many as you can stomach.

How does stinky tofu taste?

I quite like it and it is a food where the smell doesn’t destroy the taste too much. It is hard on the outside and softer almost whisky in the middle. A fine snack, but no dinner. Chinese “la” or hot sauce is a must in my mind.

What does stinky tofu smell like?

It is quite hard to explain! It is not a sick rancid smell, or a piss smell like hakarl, i’ve heard it compared to a sweaty sock! Actually i’d say it smells like a shoe that someone has been wearing in the sun without socks, combined with spicy Chinese sauce.

As my Chinese friends say “smells bad, but taste good”. Never a truer word said!

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