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stinky tofu

Fermented Stinky Tofu 臭豆腐 (VIDEO)

| 23 Comments

Chou doufu (臭豆腐) which literally translates to “stinky tofu” is tofu that’s been fermented in a jar for months. With the help of my friend, I got my hands on some genuine, locally fermented Chinese stinky tofu and I (stupidly) eat some in this video.

This was the most afraid I’d ever been before eating something. I love the taste of durian, I’ve eaten pre-packaged chicken feet and butterfly larvae without a problem, but this stuff was too much.

After festering, rotting, and growing mold inside of a jar, the harmless bean curd transforms into what could easily be described as the most putrid smell and taste on earth. This oddly popular snack is sold in roadside stalls and marketplaces throughout China and Taiwan today, but it’s often just an imitation.

The imitation stinky tofu sold by roadside vendors and in marketplaces is quite easy to find, but finding authentic stinky tofu is a challenge. Street vendors sell tofu that’s been soaked in a stinky brine for a few hours or maybe up to a day, but it’s not what Chinese would call genuine fermented chou doufu. In order to find the real stuff, you have to do a little bit of searching. I told my friend Larry, a Harbin native living in Shanghai, about my quest for stinky tofu authenticity, and he was able to snag some for me.

stinky tofu

Once I saw the real stuff, I knew that everything else I’d ever seen in roadside vendors was just a hoax. I immediately knew that this stuff is the real deal. Even when the jar is sealed, its smell is face-punchingly offensive. Once the lid is removed, it’s a sensory armageddon.

To put it lightly, the smell is like putting old gym socks, human feces, and rotten garbage in a blender and leaving that smoothie to sit in direct sunlight for weeks before taking a whiff. My nostrils burned so badly because of the stench; it was physically painful. And the smell resonates long after you bravely take a whiff of the devilish concoction.

stinky tofu

Mold and bacteria growing all over a few festering blobs of fermented bean curd.

Apparently you’re not supposed to eat it by itself. It’s essentially meant to be eaten as a condiment, but I wanted a pure, unadulterated sampling. The taste coats your mouth immediately like slimy old cheese and stays in your mouth long after you swallow it. It was difficult not to vomit.

Stinky tofu is a food that I hope to never encounter again. It was honestly the worst smell and worst taste I’ve ever imagined, and I’m glad this whole thing is over.

Author: Kevin Cook

I want to inspire you to pursue your own dream of traveling and/or living overseas!

23 Comments

  1. Brave man! This makes japanese Na-to look like fairy floss. It didn’t make you sick?

  2. You’re gonna be on the “no fly” list due to your breath!

  3. dear god, I cannot believe you ate that!! you are my food hero. if you can eat that you can eat just about anything. keep those video coming. thanks

  4. Hey, Kevin. Your video is great. But I want to say that there are two types of stinky tofu in China. What you have tried in the video is a condiment (as you have pointed out). Chinese usually eat it with steamed bun or rice porridge. Usually no one would eat more than one cube for one meal. That would be too salty.
    The other type of stinky tofu is very similar to dried bean curd in texture. It’s food, not condiment. It can be deep fried, steamed or roasted. The one that appears at the beginning of your video belongs to the second category. The fermentation process also takes months. It is really hard to find nowadays, because most street vendors prefer to imitate the smell by soaking tofu in a stinky brine for a few hours.

    • You just said what I want to say. I am also shocked when I saw Kevin put the whole cube in his mouth. Oh my god, Kevin would never eat that again.

  5. idk u will see this or not, that’s not the way to eat this, people usually cook it, when i say cook i mean being fried. if u r a man, trust me and eat it again as the way i told u, or ask someone know how to cook stinky tofu to cook it for u.

  6. I’m Chinese and I want to tell you what you eat is called FuRu ,different from Chou Tofu(stinky tofu) just like Lori said.
    Usually it severed with rice congree as
    breakfast and it will taste real good.
    That’s all,hope you enjoy chinese food.

  7. Exactly, I like all your videos. But, the way you deal with stinky tofu is a little wrong. Nobody would eat a whole chunk at one time. So, try it together with something else. Maybe you will feel a better taste….

    Anyway, nice videos.

  8. Oh my gosh, you’re so brave just like a hero. I definitely believe nobody tell you how to eat it…….. Can’t image you ate the whole cube, not one but two!!!!!!! I usually spend 2 months to eat up. God bless you.

  9. 这个是 臭豆腐乳 不是 臭豆腐 。这是两种东西。臭豆腐 是豆腐 ,臭豆腐乳 是 腐乳。豆腐可以直接吃。腐乳是作为佐料的,一般配 稀饭、素粥、白馒头 等 一起食用。

  10. it’s seasoning . it is not food. Cannot be eaten .and it is not Stinky Tofu . This is a kind of fermented bean curd . my english is bad . if improper grammar, please forgive me.

  11. sorry , i was wrong . This is the varieties in the north .It’s like fermented bean curd .I really admire your courage .

  12. Jesus Christ! You ate this without rice or porridge! I think ur from the south. Lol

  13. I’m impressed you ate the entire cube in one bite! Twice!
    Furu is one of my most favorite flavors!

  14. This video would even be better if you were shirtless when eating it. Just sayin’.

  15. It’s so glad to watch your video. Thank you for spreading Chinese food culture to the world, but there’s still some misunderstanding about some specific food. you would better to dig deeper about the food, such as eating method (how to eat it? and what foods does It generally match with? etc.). In addition, it would be prefect if there are dual-language(English and Chinese) subtitles on the video. I hope these suggestions could help you to improve the quality of folloing video.

  16. Yucky …. but I like what you said about not wanting to waste food. Even so, you must be a real glutton for self punishment!

  17. I cannot believe that you ate 2 chunks of it!!!! You da man!!! lol

  18. Guy, I can say with confidence that you eat it in a wrong way. Stinky Tofu should be cooked (always fried) before you eat it. But actually, there is a kind of Tofu that can be eat without cooking. It’s called Furu (腐乳), which we eat when we are drinking rice porridge. You can try it next time, and your would never say “terrible”. BTW, nice video and nice trial.

  19. man, I really hate what you have down. you got a Chinese friend gave you the stinky tofu, but you eat in a wrong way. why not ask how to eat it. it is a kind of condiment, likes cinamon. You just mis-transmit a eating cultrual. hope you wont do it again.

    • I asked him, and he told me: eat a tiny bit with mantou or rice. But, being the attention-seeker that I am, I decided it’d be more fun to try to stomach a big chunk of this stuff instead. You can rest assured – I will never, ever do it again.

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