Taiwanese food How is smelly tofu made

Types of tofu, production, preparation and dishes

Tofu (Chinese: 豆腐 dòufu) , also known as bean curd, is a food of Chinese origin. It is made from soy milk, water and a coagulant. It is made by curdling soy milk and the resulting curdled soy milk is pressed into blocks.


Tofu production was first recorded during the Chinese Han Dynasty about 2,000 years ago. The invention of tofu was made by the prince Liu An (179-122 BC) from the province of Anhui historically documented.

Is Tofu Healthy?

There are rumors about tofu, some people say that tofu is unhealthy. That is not true. Tofu is low in fat and high in protein, calcium, and iron. Tofu itself has very little taste or smell, but it has the ability to absorb new flavors through spices and marinades. Because of this quality and nutritional value, tofu, which has been a staple in Asian cuisine since ancient times, has recently become a popular food used in Western vegetarian dishes.

Processes of making tofus

Making tofu from soy milk is a bit similar to making cheese from milk. It involves the following process:

Soak and wash soybeans → Puree the soybeans with waterFilterBoil the soy milkSolidify soy milk with calcium sulfatePour the curdled soy milk through the cloth in a moldFinished!

Types of tofu

There is a wide variety of tofu, but they can be broken down into two main categories: fresh tofu - made directly from soy milk, and processed tofu - made from fresh tofu in some way.

Fresh tofu

Silken tofu

Silken tofu (Chinese 嫩 豆腐, nèn dòufu) is a tofu with a white color and a very delicate texture. It contains the highest moisture content of any fresh tofus. This is the typical tofu from southern China. It is usually used for making soups.

Firm tofu

Firm tofu (Chinese 老豆腐 lǎodòufu) is the typical tofu of northern China, it has a yellowish color and regains its shape when it is pressed. Due to its firm consistency, it is suitable for stir-frying and is easy to pick up with chopsticks.

Dried tofu

Dried tofu (Chinese 豆干, doùgān) contains the least amount of moisture of all fresh tofus. It is usually pressed very flat and cut into long strands that look like loosely cooked noodles, and can be served cold or stir-fried.

Processed tofu

Smelly tofu

Smelly tofu (Chinese 臭豆腐, chòudòufu) is a type of snack with a strong odor that is described as putrid or fecal. Blocks of soft tofu are fermented in a unique brine and then fried until the rind turns crispy and are usually served with sweet sauce, soy sauce, or hot sauce.

Hairy tofu

Hairy tofu, also known as MaoTofu (Chinese 毛 豆腐, máodòufu), is a fermented tofu that is very popular in Huizhou (Huangshan) and Yunnan Province. It is covered in hair and has a very strong and pungent taste and an ammonia odor due to its fermentation. As a street snack, it is fried with spices and tastes crispy and crunchy with a creamy filling.

Frozen tofu

Frozen tofu (Chinese 冻 豆腐 / dòng dòufu /) is made from fresh tofu. It was discovered by chance by northern Chinese. When tofu is stored outside in winter, the tofu freezes and the water turns into ice, which helps to expand and form spongy pores.

Prepare tofu

Different types of tofu are cooked using different preparation methods. Silken tofu is suitable for tofu soup. Silken tofu and firm tofu are both suitable for frying and deep-frying. And when it comes to grilling and smoked tofu, firm tofu is better.

Marinating tofu is also very popular. The dried cubes of tofu were fully air dried and then soaked in Chinese wine, salt water, vinegar, chopped chillies, etc. for slow fermentation.

Popular tofu dishes

Mapo tofumápó dòufumaa-por doh-foo麻 婆 豆腐
Tofu soupdòufu tāngdoh-foo tung豆腐 汤
Tofu with chopped green onionxiǎocōng bàn dòufusshyaoww-tsong ban doh-foo小葱 拌 豆腐
Tofu with crab meatballsdòufu xiān xiā wándoh-foo sshyen sshyaa wan豆腐 鲜虾 丸

Take a look at our Mapo Tofu Recipe and Home-made Tofu Recipe.

By-products of tofu

Tofu Pudding (Doufu Hua)

Doufu Hua (豆花, dòu fǔ huā) / Doufu Nao, or tofu pudding, is a type of fresh, extra soft, not completely curdled tofu that is even softer than silken tofu. Doufu Hua is made with soy milk and a coagulant to help it curdle. Unlike making tofu, which uses a coagulant to curdle the soy milk and then press it, making douhua is a simpler process. All you have to do is dissolve the coagulant in the soy milk and let it solidify.

Some websites describe Doufu Hua as a sweet dessert, but that is not entirely true. In some areas of China, people eat tofu pudding with sweet ginger syrup, but there are also some areas that eat tofu hua with salty sauce.

Thousand-Layer Tofu

So in the old days, thousand-layer tofu was real tofu, but nowadays the thousand-layer tofu is different, because of different manufacturing processes, thousand-layer tofu is not tofu, but a processed food made from soybeans, egg white, corn starch, Sugar, salt and other ingredients.

Travel with China Highlights and Taste Authentic Chinese Cuisine

If you want to see how tofu is made and try authentic Chinese tofu, China Tours can help.

See our Huangshan tour. We can combine a tofu hometown visit for you.