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Traditional Chinese Snack -- Stinky Tofu


Maybe you know of tofu and have eaten it, but have you ever heard of stinky tofu?

What is Stinky tofu?

Stinky tofu is a very unique traditional Chinese snack. The preparation and consumption methods vary greatly from place to place. The ingredients for making it are soybeans, fermented black soybeans, sodium carbonate, etc. Then it is cooked in a frying pan. It is usually sold at night markets or roadside stands as a snack, or in restaurants as a side dish.

Stinky Tofu first is the snack in Changsha, Nanjing, Hakka, Shaoxing, and other places, and then it is spread to other parts of China, but there are considerable differences in the production methods and eating methods in different regions. Among them, Changsha and Nanjing are quite famous.

This may be hard for some people to accept, but let's first try to understand what stinky tofu is. It's actually somewhat similar to blue cheese, and those who like it will really enjoy it, but those who don't may want to run away when they see it.


There are two different stories about the history of stinky tofu:

Story 1
The story goes that Yuanzhang Zhu came from a poor background and worked as a beggar and monk when he was young. Once, when he was so hungry that he could not stand it, he picked up some expired tofu that people had thrown away and fried it in oil, stuffing it into his mouth with a mouthful of stinky tofu. Later, when he became the military commander, his army was victorious all the way to Anhui, and he was so happy that he ordered the whole army to eat stinky tofu to celebrate, and the fame of stinky tofu finally spread.

Story 2
The Ming Dynasty scholar Rihua He had already said in his writings at the time that people in Yixian County, Anhui Province, especially like to use salt to make tofu discoloured and hairy in the summer and autumn, scrubbing it clean and frying it in boiling oil.

With a history of nearly 1,000 years, its most successful times can be traced back to the Kangxi Emperor of the Qing Dynasty. According to historical evidence, Empress Dowager Cixi also had a hobby of eating stinky tofu, which was also listed as an imperial snack.


Although stinky tofu is small, the production process is more complicated. It usually goes through several procedures such as frying, braising, and fermentation. During the whole production process, it is required to be carried out under natural conditions, and the requirements for temperature and humidity are very high.

First, the top-quality soybeans are used to make tofu, and then the white tender tofu is pressed into white dried tofu subs; then the dried tofu is added to a kind of brine. The brine here is the most elaborate, it needs to be made from the juice of salted vegetables left over from other years, pure green, natural, no coloring added, and emits a very natural smell. Seal the jar, and then buried in the ground, white tofu has become green ink-colored dried stinky tofu a few days after taking out. When you break open the dried tofu, you can see that it is green and ink-colored from the inside to the outside, and smells bad, but when it is fried, it smells great in the mouth. After cooling, add mushrooms, asparagus, white wine and other spices and soak for 15 minutes. Deep-fried to be thoroughly fried, the surface is burnt, but the inside is white and tender. Drizzle with chili paste to eat.


Some people like to eat stinky tofu, however, some people avoid it, and they want to make a detour when they smell it. So have you ever wondered why stinky tofu smells so stinky, and it tastes so delicious?

Stinky tofu "smells bad" because the tofu in the process of fermentation and post-fermentation, which contains proteins in the role of pro-tease decomposition, the sulfur amino acids contained in the full hydrolysis, resulting in a compound called hydrogen sulfide (H2S), this compound has a pungent odor. After the breakdown of the protein, that is, the production of amino acids, which in turn has a delicious taste, so "eat well".

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Stinky tofu uses high-quality soybeans as raw materials. The process is complex and the process is complicated. Soybeans are processed by dissolving, dehulling, soaking, refining, filtering, spotting, forming blocks, and ten processes. It is stinky to make fermented and soft.

Stinky tofu contains the essential amino acid Lysine, so it should be avoided to heat with reducing sugar to avoid carcinogens such as the end product of glycation.


Changsha Stinky Tofu: Belongs to the Hunan cuisine

Features: the exterior is ink black, crispy but not mushy, tender but not greasy, stinky at first smell, fragrant and tempting, with the freshness and crispness of white tofu and the aroma and crispness of fried tofu.

Changsha Stinky Tofu

Changsha Stinky Tofu

Nanjing Stinky Tofu

There are two types: one is tile gray dried tofu and the other is tender gray tofu.

  • The tile gray dried tofu is fried in oil for a little longer to be thorough, and as the tantalizing odor spreads, the surface of the dried tofu will bubble up, and when the color turns grayish-black, it is ready to eat. Such dried stinky tofu is usually cut into small pieces, fried and brushed directly with the seasoning sauce prepared by the stall owner, eaten while hot, crispy and delicious, quite chewy.
  • The tender hoary tofu is fried in a frying pan until golden brown, then it can be eaten with some chili sauce, sesame sauce, garlic sauce, cilantro, small onion and minced ginger, which tastes crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Tile gray dried tofu

Tile gray dried tofu

Tender hoary tofu

Tender hoary tofu

Hakka Stinky Tofu

Local people like to collect snow in a tank in winter, add straw ash and some spices to the snow water in the next summer, and then use it to make a marinade to soak fresh tofu, and after a day, fish it out and wash it, then pour sesame oil, green chili, garlic paste, ground coriander, soy sauce and a little salt. It is very pleasant to use as a side dish to accompany a meal. In addition, because it is soaked in snow water, it is also a small dish to relieve the summer heat, and it has been passed down from generation to generation among the locals to eat this kind of stinky tofu to relieve the summer heat and satisfy their cravings during the summer season.

Hakka Stinky Tofu

Hakka Stinky Tofu

Shaoxing Stinky Tofu: Belongs to the Zhejiang cuisine

The "stinky tofu" produced is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, salty and fresh, with an incomparable taste, and the characteristics of both stinky and fragrant are unique.

Shaoxing Stinky Tofu

Shaoxing Stinky Tofu

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