The Unvegan

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Street Food Spotlight: Taiwanese Chou Doufu

Toothpick it up.

You may recall that a few years back I paid a visit to Shanghai and had some of their stinky tofu (aka chou doufu in Mandarin). At that time it was pretty much the only variety of stinky tofu I really knew of because I had spent a year living in that city. Stinky tofu, however, seems to come in as many flavors as bread or pasta, with Taiwan claiming one of its own.

I tracked down Taiwanese stinky tofu at the Shilin Night Market in Taipei, which happens literally every night. It’s immediately apparent why the stinky tofu here is different from that of Shanghai. First off, you don’t smell if from nearly a mile away. This is probably due to a different fermentation process, but also because it is cooked by deep frying. It’s then tossed into a bag for eating purposes with a semi-sweet sauce, allowing the tofu to soak up the sauce flavor, while also changing the texture of the tofu.

The result is something entirely different, with a distinct sponge-like texture and more complex overall flavor than that of Shanghai. I can’t say which is better, especially considering how long it has been since I have had the Shanghai variety, but each is very distinct and absolutely worth trying. That may sound crazy coming from an unvegan, but I couldn’t be more confident in stating it.