0703 weirdest dish in the world stinky tofu
Photo: Beers and Beans

The Origin of Stinky Tofu

Stinky tofu (Chinese: 臭豆腐; pinyin: chòu dòufu) is a Chinese form of fermented tofu that has a strong odour. It is usually sold at night markets or roadside stands as a snack, or in lunch bars as a side dish, rather than in restaurants.

According to a Chinese legend, a scholar named Wang Zhihe (王致和) hailing from Huang Shan in Anhui Province invented stinky tofu during the Qing dynasty. After failing the imperial examination, Wang stayed in Beijing and relied on selling tofu to make a living.

One day, having a huge quantity of unsold tofu on his hands, he cut the tofu into small cubes and put them into an earthen jar. After several days, he opened up the jar and found out that the tofu had turned greenish and become extremely smelly. Initially perceiving the tofu to taste extremely foul, he found out that it was surprisingly delicious so he decided to start selling it at his store. The stinky tofu that Wang Zhihe invented gained popularity and was later served at the imperial Qing Dynasty palace. The Empress Cixi later named the delicacy "imperial green cubes", according to Wikipedia.

How to Make Stinky Tofu


  • 14-ounce block of firm tofu
  • 4 stinky fermented bean curd mashed
  • 2 green onions minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilli peppers
  • 2 teaspoons potato starch halve if using cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon white spirit
  • 1 teaspoon fennel powder
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar


  • Mix the water, stinky fermented bean curd, and white spirit in a large sealable container.

  • Add the tofu into the fermented bean curd water.

  • Seal the lid and put it in the refrigerator for more than 24 hours.

  • Take out the refrigerated soaked tofu and drain it. Heat wok with oil, and fry the soaked tofu until it becomes golden. Transfer it on a plate and set aside.

  • Heat wok with oil, and stir-fry garlic until fragrant. Add fennel powder, oyster sauce, 1/2 bowl

  • of water and cooking until water boiling. Pour the soaked tofu, stir and cook for 1 minute.

  • Sprinkle with water starch and parsley on it. Transfer it on a plate. Serve.


1. If you want to eat stinky tofu with a stronger smell, you can extend the soaking time appropriately.

2. After soaking in the tofu, be sure to drain the water and fry it. When it is fried, it will not splash.

How to Eat Stinky Tofu

Once the tofu has been sufficiently soaked in the fermented brine, vendors can serve it in a variety of ways, including barbecued, stewed, braised, steamed, or deep-fried. The latter is most common (and recommended for first-time tasters), with vendors adding garlic, soy sauce, or chilli sauce. Most diners describe stinky tofu’s flavour as mild, with hints of saltiness or bitterness from the fermentation process. What’s most enjoyable is the tofu’s texture: The result of frying or grilling leads to a cube that’s crispy on the outside, but still hot and smooth on the inside.

The common stinky tofu is fried. Some regions serve it with cabbage pickle. It sounds horrible, but smell not bad, and taste great. You can smell it from several miles away, but it has a forgettable and great taste, as cited by Atlas Obscura.

Here is the recipe of Fried Stinky Tofu - The most iconic snack in Taiwan, according to Medium:


  • 4 pcs stinky fermented bean curd (Wangzhihe brand prefer)
  • 1 spoon baijiu
  • 1 tofu
  • cold boiled water
  • chilli sauce or garlic chilli sauce (optional)
  • coriander, spring onion (optional)


Step 1: Prepare tofu and stinky fermented bean curd.

1359 weirdest dish in the world stinky tofu1
Fermented bean curd (Wangzhihe brand). Photo: Amazon.

Step 2: Dice tofu, mix fermented bean curd and baijiu in cold boiled water.

1718 weirdest dish in the world stinky tofu2
Photo: Zested Lemon.

Step 3: Put tofu into the fermented bean curd water, make sure the water cover over the tofu.

Step 4: Keep in the fridge for 24 hours.

Step 5: Fry it into golden colour, if you think it costs too much time to stinky tofu in the water, you could skip step 2 to step 4, fry the tofu directly. then use the stinky fermented bean curd as the dipping sauce.

1952 weirdest dish in the world stinky tofu3
Photo: SideChef

Step 6: Sprinkle some chilli sauce and spring onion or coriander.

2231 weirdest dish in the world stinky tofu4
Photo: From My Bowl

Because of the rank odours emitted by the tofu, it is rarely served in restaurants. Street stalls, however, often group together to sell their pungent fare, the air around them saturated by the smell. Fans can simply follow their nose to their beloved snack.

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