What to Read Next

Falling in Love with Stinky Tofu

16 April 2012

Text and images by Catherine Ling @ Makansutra

Falling in Love with Stinky Tofu
View photos
Falling in Love with Stinky Tofu

If smells could kill, stinky tofu probably would have claimed many lives by now. It’s one of the only two foods that defeated Andrew Zimmern of a bizarre foods TV program that’s seen him downing brains and bugs all over the world. Yes, he gagged and spat it out.

But stinky tofu has many fans, many of whom like it without fuss. It’s extremely popular in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China. The fermented tofu is served so many ways – deep-fried, stewed, steamed, added to soups, and even raw. It’s doused with sauces of all manner (chili, sweet, garlic) and sometimes with pickled vegetables. How could something so putrid-smelling incite appetite and even cravings? Are we missing out on something if we haven’t yet braved ourselves to taste it? More importantly, is it worth the risk?

For me, stinky tofu was an acquired taste. I didn’t take to it immediately, and it was only part of an office food challenge that I reluctantly tried it. But now, I am happily on the side of the stinky tofu lovers.

Here’s how I did it, and maybe you can too.

Falling in Love with Stinky Tofu
View photos
Falling in Love with Stinky Tofu

STEP ONE: First, get over your fear of the smell, and take a bite. I first described the smell as “air-conditioning blowing over a latrine overflowing with stale diarrhoea”.  As you can imagine, it took a LOT of courage to take the first bite. But do it, and give it a chance.

You’ll find that the taste is surprisingly mild and devoid of stench. It’s almost like stepping into another room, and the smell is only a hazy remnant. If anything, the foul smell morphs into something that enhances the taste of the tofu, the way the blue strains of Roquefort flavour the cheese.

My first bite showed me it was all right. But I still didn’t crave it.

STEP TWO: Don’t look up how it’s made! You might not eat sausages too, if you saw how they are made.

STEP THREE: Keep smelling it. There will be variations to the stench even, some more like garbage trucks, some more like rotting

But as I kept smelling the thing, I started getting used to it. Having a friend rave about it also helped. In Taiwan, the smell is not as strong, so it’s more approachable.

STEP FOUR:  Take another bite. It’s helpful to start with the milder ones, like in Taiwan. Deep-fried versions are also easier to like than stewed or soupy ones. Eat the whole dish. But bring mints if you intend to be kissing or conversing with others at close quarters.

If you’ve managed to come this far, I think you’re pretty close to either getting some sort of appreciation for it. Or perhaps you’ll have decided you’ll never eat any more stinky tofu. But just wait. Some day in the future, this fermented dish will come and entice you again.

Falling in Love with Stinky Tofu
View photos
Falling in Love with Stinky Tofu



Darren Wang denies Jackie Chan's involvement

New Luxury Single-Family Homes at Arundel Woods

Ryan Homes with 1st & 2nd floor owner’s suites & 3-car garages on spacious homesites, near Ft. Meade & NSA. Only 1.5 mi to I-95/I-295, from the $400s.

VA Mortgage Rates In 2016

VA Rates as Low as 2.75% (3.028% APR) 15 Year Fixed. Exclusive For Veteran & Military Takes 1 Min!

Banks Are Worried Homeowners Will Do This.

Homeowners are surprised and furious. If you owe less than $625,000 on your home, you better read this.

Amazon Prime Video, Wherever You Go

Stream thousands of movies and shows. Watch anywhere, even offline.

Sweet deals from Target

Save on gifts of all sizes – valentines and candy for the school swap, dazzling Apple tech, jewelry, accessories and more.

Your second chance to enroll in Medicare & Medigap

Never heard of the Medicre General Enrollment Period? Read this to find out how it could benefit you.

Heartburn Symptoms

Common Symptoms of Heartburn Include Burping and Bloating. Learn More About the Common and Uncommon Heartburn Symptoms You Might Be Experiencing.

Is your insurance comp Laughing Behind Your Back?

New Studies Show that if you drive less than 55 miles a day you can save a ton on auto insurance.

Looking for a girlfriend?

No games. Just real women looking for a mature guy. Find the right dating site for you!

Hilton HHonors™ Card

Earn 40,000 Hilton HHonors™ Bonus Points. Apply for Your Card Today.

How Older Men Tighten Their Skin

Men, reduce the look of wrinkles, sagging skin and fine lines with this affordable and effective skin tightening treatment without leaving your home.

Meng Ting-li donates organs after death

Starwood Credit Card

Earn 25,000 Bonus Starpoints®! Use toward Award Nights or Flights.

Kid sleep troubles email series for moms

We get it. We’ve been there. Sign up for our email track to learn how to handle kids who won’t go to sleep or won’t stay in bed.

Insane Navy Seal Flashlight, should it be banned?

The Military has recently released technology that is now available to the public. Get yours before they run out - Limited Supply!