Stinky Tofu (chou doufu) is a traditional Chinese food which varies depending on where in China it is made and even other parts of the world.
The origin of Stinky Tofu
It was first eaten by a monk named Zhu Yuanzhang, whose family was very poor.
One day, he was very hungry and found some old tofu left in someone’s home. Not caring whether it was cooked or not, he stuffed it in his mouth and never forgot the delicious taste of this tofu.
Later he became a military commander and, leading his army successfully in battle, winning many victories all the way to Anhui Province. To celebrate, he ordered the whole army to eat Stinky Tofu. This name soon became widely known.
What is Stinky Tofu?
Needless to say, Stinky Tofu has a strong smell because the tofu is actually fermented; the proteins in the tofu decompose by the action of protease.
The Sulphur amino acids contained in the tofu are also fully hydrolyzed, resulting in a type of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) which gives the tofu its pungent odor. After the protein breaks down, amino acids are produced creating a delicious taste.
Traditional Stinky Tofu is most famous in Changsha, Hunan.
Changsha’s Stinky Tofu is made from fine soybeans and then soaked in a brine containing bamboo shoots, shiitake mushrooms, koji, and soybean meal.
Stinky Tofu is gray, however, as it ferments, white fuzz will form on the surface. At first, you can really smell the stinky odor as you fry it in a pan, until the color darkens, and after the surface has swelled, you can remove it. When you pour the garlic paste, pepper, and sesame oil over the tofu, the aroma will become fragrant.
Stinky Tofu, like many unique and controversial foods such as durian, bitter gourd, etc do not seem very appealing to a lot of people and many are not game enough to try them.
Stinky Tofu is an old and traditional food and, once you accept it, you will soon fall in love with it. But if you do not eat it for a while, the taste will become strange and you will have to become accustomed to it again.
The complex commercial process of making Stinky Tofu cannot be replicated at home, but today, I will show you a simple and practical method for fermenting Stinky Tofu, which is suitable for making in a small household.
If you’re hesitant of eating Stinky Tofu, this purely natural handmade Stinky Tofu can be eaten with confidence.
how to make stinky tofu
Homemade Stinky Tofu
- 15ml shrimp paste
- 500g firm tofu
- 100g soft tofu
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 400ml warm water
1. To make the brine, place the shrimp paste in a clean container and add the warm water, soft tofu and salt. Store for two days, stirring occasionally.
2. Next, cut the firm tofu into small pieces and place into another container and let it sit for half a day to two days. Remove and deep fry until golden brown.
3. The tofu becomes softer and the odor stronger the longer it sits in the container. It generally turns like fermented bean curd on the third or fourth day.
1. In the first step, I tried firm tofu instead of soft tofu and after two days, the stinky tofu was ready. By the third day the stinky tofu was as soft as fermented bean curd. Mastering this fermentation method depends on the temperature you ferment the tofu at. I generally do it at 20-25 degrees. During hot weather, you should only ferment the tofu for about a day to a day and a half. The longer the fermentation time, the softer the tofu is, and this time you can judge the time according to your own situation.
2. Don’t add too much salt to the brine as shrimp paste is very salty. If there is too much salt in the brine, the fermentation won’t work properly, and the unique flavor of the Stinky Tofu will not be produced. Too little salt will make the mixture deteriorate. Stinky Tofu must be delicious after fermentation.
3. Remember to use firm tofu; you cannot make stinky tofu with just soft tofu.
4. You can keep the brine in the fridge and reuse it.