Stinky Tofu: Smells Awful, Tastes Great!

Last week we talked about the weird-looking, and tasting, “皮蛋(pídàn) preserved egg.” Have you rolled up your sleeves and given it a taste? If not, here comes another choice you might want to try! This week we will introduce another strange Chinese delicacy with a nasty smell: “臭豆腐(chòudòufu).”

Chinese delicacy—臭豆腐(chòudòufu)

A lot of foreigners in China find it unbelievable that so many Chinese love this horribly stinky food! But the fact is, though “臭豆腐(chòudòufu)” smells bad, it is actually extremely savory and tasty after your first bite. This fried tofu, crispy on the outside but tender inside, is always served with delicious, thick chili sauce which makes it an absolutely wonderful delicacy! So, once you get past the smell, eating “臭豆腐(chòudòufu)” could become one of your favorite hobbies.

Chinese delicacy—臭豆腐(chòudòufu)

“臭豆腐(chòudòufu),” also called “臭干子(chòugānzi)” in Chinese, is a special local snack with rich cultural influence. This unique snack may have an ugly appearance and a not-so-appetizing name, but it is highly praised for its excellent texture and taste, which is quite tender and savory! The black tofu has long been known as a popular delicacy and it flourished in the Qing Dynasty (1616-1912) when the Empress Dowager Cixi named it “青方(qīngfāng).” It is said that the Empress Dowager Cixi loved this special snack and added it to the list of imperial cuisines.

Stinky Tofu-臭豆腐(chòudòufu) smells awful but taste great

Recipes for “臭豆腐(chòudòufu)” differ in many different places, but, no matter what, the tofu always smells awful but tastes great! The “臭豆腐(chòudòufu)” of Changsha, Hunan Province is the most famous variety. It has been given the name “天下第一臭(tiānxià dìyī chòu) the Smelliest Tofu in the World.” But it is not just the smelliest, it is also the tastiest in the world. So if you come to Changsha, you can’t leave without first having a taste of this specialty. Otherwise, can’t really say you’ve “been” there.

HSK 3 quiz

1. Why do so many Chinese love “臭豆腐(chòudòufu)” though it smells awful?
A. It is good for your health.
B. It smells “awful” but tastes good!
C. It symbolizes rich cultural heritage.
2. Who named tofu “青方(qīngfāng)” in the Qing Dynasty (1616-1912)?
A. The Empress Dowager Cixi.
B. The Empress Dowager Zhenhuan.
C. The Emperor Kangxi.
3. Where can you find the most famous and tasty “臭豆腐(chòudòufu)” in China?
A. Beijing
B. Shanghai
C. Changsha

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