Sunday, February 13, 2011
If you haven't heard of stinky tofu, it's a style of fermented tofu which kind of reeks. It's called "chou dofu". The translation of that is literally "stinky tofu". It literally smells like feces. For example one time a few of us came across a pungent smell on the sidewalk and we debated momentarily whether it was stinky tofu or reeking bathroom. Seriously.
About a year ago i was a bit baked, wandering the streets, and decided to try some "chou dofu". Likely enhanced by my altered state, i realized that this tofu wasn't stinky at all, it was... AMAZING! Yup, i chowed that shit down, and wished i had more.
This year, I was in Chengdu, where the food flavours pull no punches, where 50% of the food is spiced in ways that leave you gasping for air, and your tastebuds numb. I was a bit baked so I decided to give the chou dofu another go. Here the style is skewered, fried, and bathed in salt and chili. I could smell the stand a mile away. Unfortunately, i didn't have the same rapturous experience. About 1 minute into my tofu, I realized... it really does taste like shit. Not human shit, but more like horse manure. Of the salty and spicy variety. I wished i'd only bought one instead of 2, considered throwing it away, but decided that would be wasteful and i needed the protein plus ... well, wasn't i trying to embrace the whole chou dofu culture?
Anyhow, I'll wait a bit before i try it again, and frankly i think it is quite a bit milder up north. Do note, however, that this delicacy is truly popular throughout huge swathes of China, east and south Asia... Can millions of stinky tofu eaters be wrong?