Stinky Tofu…is it really that Stinky?

By Mark Wiens 9 Comments

Stinky Tofu (Chòudòufu 臭豆腐)

I love to eat weird and bizarre (and stinky) foods.

In fact, some of my absolute favorite things to devour on this earth are famous for being repulsively foul.

Durian, a fruit that is notoriously pungent is at the top of my dining list.

So when I visited my cousin in China for a month, I was more than excited to sample a famous snack that included “stinky” in its title.

Stinky Tofu
Stinky Tofu (Chòudòufu 臭豆腐)

On main West Street in the heart of Yangshuo, China, there are a number of stinky tofu bicycle’s that conveniently park so everyone can smell them!

One day, just before beginning a gorgeous bike ride in Yangshuo, I smelled it out – and it was time to eat stinky tofu!

Yangshuo, China
Deep Fried Stinky Tofu

Stinky Tofu, known in Chinese as Chòudòufu (臭豆腐), is a form of fermented tofu.

It’s a popular snack item throughout China, and also very popular as a Taiwan and Hong Kong street food.

Black Hunan Style Stinky Tofu
Chòudòufu 臭豆腐

Throughout China there are a number of different variations of Stinky Tofu; Some versions are fried golden brown while others are blackish blue.

The stinky tofu I ate in Yangshuo was the blackish blue variation – originally from Hunan Province.

Cooking Stinky Tofu (Chòudòufu 臭豆腐)
Cooking Stinky Tofu (Chòudòufu 臭豆腐)

There are also a few different ways of cooking stinky tofu (steamed, pan fried, boiled), but most snack carts go the deep fried route!

Delicious Stinky Tofu (Chòudòufu 臭豆腐)

How does Stinky Tofu smell?

Well, in light of the fact that in English, Chòudòufu (臭豆腐) is known as “stinky,” one would assume that it is indeed smelly.

Imagine hiking through the mountains for a week without washing your socks. During the hike you crossed multiple steams of water and your socks (and shoes) never had a chance to fully dry out.

At the end of the week-long hike you sit down, pull off your damp shoes and take a long lung-filled whiff…

…and that’s a bit like Stinky Tofu!

Now to me, that’s not a bad smell – in fact I really didn’t mind it at all (but I’m weird).

Chinese Snacks
Stinky Tofu (Chòudòufu 臭豆腐)

How does Stinky Tofu taste?

Not having a clue what to expect, I took my first bite of stinky tofu and was pleasantly surprised…

To be honest I loved it…

(check out the quick 1’10” VIDEO below for my reaction!)

The smell was indeed pungent, but after deep fat frying each chunk of tofu the vendor stuck them on a stick, poked holes in the sides of each chunk and filled the holes with zesty spicy sauce.

The stinky tofu was crispy like pork skin on the outside, but steamy hot and silky smooth on the outside.

The slight fermentation gave it the tiniest ammonia like flavor, but that was equalized out by the delicious garlicky sauce it was drenched in.

Have you ever snacked on Stinky Tofu?