As one of the most flexible vegan foods out there, tofu can be prepared in countless different ways. You can make a delightful scramble just like scrambled eggs, a mouth-watering stir fry, and even imitation chicken nuggets.
If you go really far into the tofu rabbit hole, you might discover another tofu variation: stinky tofu. The name certainly isn’t pleasant-sounding, but it is an accurate descriptor.
So, what makes stinky tofu different from normal tofu? How is stinky tofu made? In this post, we’ll give you all the details on this little-known snack.
What is Stinky Tofu?
Let’s take a step back first and go the beginning. For those who have never heard of this snack, we’ll answer the question, what is stinky tofu?
The name alone gives you most of the answer: it’s a way of preparing tofu that gives it a really pungent odor. In fact, even fans of the food will compare the smell to that of rotting garbage.
It’s often sold in street stalls in China and Taiwan. The smell is so potent, it’s usually not made in restaurants.
Why eat something so smelly? Those who have had it say it has a surprisingly gentle taste, with a texture that’s crispy externally while remaining silky smooth internally. This combination of tasty flavor and crave-worthy texture makes it a popular snack.
Read Also: What Does Stinky Tofu Taste Like?
How is Stinky Tofu Made?
To make stinky tofu, you’ll need, of course, a block of tofu. That block of tofu is then fermented in a mixture comprised of milk and brine.
Usually, the brine is made from a combination of veggies, meat, and fish, so traditional stinky tofu isn’t vegan. However, it’s entirely possible to make a vegan iteration of it with a little experimentation.
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How Old is Stinky Tofu?
The age of stinky tofu varies based on who made it. In China and Tawain, where it is traditionally made, those who sell it each have their own secret recipes.
In general, the tofu should be fermented in the brine for anywhere from weeks to months. Mass-produced factory versions will often only soak the tofu blocks in brine for a few days, though, which results in a milder smell.
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Is Stinky Tofu Good?
Stinky tofu, like plain tofu, can be a really divisive food. The odor alone is probably enough to make it a “love it or hate it” type of snack, where you find people on either extreme rather than in the middle.
Deciding whether it’s good or bad is up to you in the end. There are many fans of it, especially because of its unique mouth feel. The crispy exterior and creamy interior has won over many who might otherwise be turned away by its smell.
Is Stinky Tofu Vegetarian or Vegan?
When you hear the word “tofu,” you tend to assume that it’s automatically vegan. Sadly, this is not true with stinky tofu.
Because of the brine and even milk used in its fermentation, you can’t guarantee that no animal byproducts are used in its creation. That being said, it’s entirely possible to make a vegan version.
If you see it in a restaurant and want to try it, be sure to ask the staff if it’s vegan, just to be sure.
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There are so many foods out there that we don’t get to be exposed to – a whole culinary world to explore, in fact. Stinky tofu is one of those foods that we don’t really hear about very often in the United States.
If you’re up to the challenge, we recommend trying to make or find your own vegan version at home. In doing so, you’ll have experienced something rare in the western hemisphere.
Further Reading: How Do You Quickly Drain Tofu?