Let Us Now Praise Stinky Foods: Taiwanese Stinky Tofu

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It looks so innocuous sitting on the plate, doesn't it?

Southeast Asians have their durian, Scandinavians sometimes love lutefisk (especially at Christmastide), but the Taiwanese insist on stinky tofu when it comes to scarfing something really fetid.

Sometimes known as "Chinese cheese" because of its flavor resemblance to the strongest European blue cheese, stinky tofu is made by fermenting bean curd in ceramic jars with brine or, sometimes, rice-wine vinegar. The result is known as foo yu, fu-ru, or narm yu, and a similar product is eaten in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

Though used more often in its mashed form as a condiment in mainland China, in Taiwan stinky tofu is usually deep fried and festooned with oil or chile sauce. Some say it tastes like vomit, others think it more resembles fecal matter in its aroma, but once you've tried it, we expect you'll fall in love with stinky tofu.

Tomorrow: blue cheese


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