Things we (sort of) like: stinky tofu

Ben tries stinky tofu at Night It Up

OK, so I don’t really like stinky tofu and judging by his face (especially animated for the camera), Ben doesn’t either. But for me, stinky tofu is a pleasant (and smelly) trip down memory lane. It wasn’t that long ago that I lived in Hong Kong but I have fond memories of trying it for the first time with my mother when she visited. She grew up in Hong Kong and associates the snack with her youth. So it was both adorable and horrifying when my mother suddenly stopped in her tracks as we were walking around the city. Like a puppy who had just caught wind of a steak, she stuck her nose in the air and furrowed her brow with great concentration. We had just been hit in the face with the stench of hot garbage mixed with fish sauce.

“STINKY TOFU!” she cried excitedly and she was off, leaving her only child behind. Her little feet quickly maneuvering through the crowded streets of Mong Kok, eyes darting around for the coveted greasy squares. Finally, she spotted a stall, the one with the largest crowd around it. She didn’t even ask if I, a few yards back, wanted some, she dutifully handed her money over, doused the tofu in hot sauce and messily ate her cubes with glee.

When I think of stinky tofu, I think of those few minutes in which I witnessed my mother’s childlike excitement. I don’t first think of the smelliness, nor do I consider the anti-climatic taste of it (far less offensive then the smell). I think of my mom and the joy she gets from biting into a hot cube of fermented tofu.

Question: Have you ever tried stinky tofu? What did you think of it?

(I wish I had a photo of my mom instead weirdo Ben, but that photo is pretty great, eh?)

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Comments ( 32 )

[…] Tongue & Cheek blog describes catching a whiff of it as being “…hit in the face with the stench of hot garbage mixed with fish sauce.” […]

What is one food you’ve had on your travels that you NEVER want to taste again? added these pithy words on May 13 11 at 8:24 am

for the record, i didn’t hate it, i liked it well enough. it just wasn’t good enough to combat the smell (which is exactly like thai fish sauce) which i was exposed to while in line.

Ben added these pithy words on Jul 14 10 at 3:01 pm

That’s true, you didn’t hate it. I think it’s different than fish sauce in that fish sauce has a bit of citrus smell in the finish which somehow makes it less offensive.

Andrea added these pithy words on Jul 14 10 at 3:03 pm

Wow, what a great story. This almost makes me want to eat that stinky, stinky tofu. ALMOST!

Nicole added these pithy words on Jul 14 10 at 3:08 pm

I think of the stinkiness, and then the handsomely sour pickled cabbages, then the soft pillowy wretchedness in my mouth. In that order. Finding the perfect combination is impossible in this country. -another modicus remix user.

SinoSoul added these pithy words on Jul 14 10 at 3:09 pm

I’m intrigued. I would try it, I don’t mind the smell of fish sauce. That’s a nice story about your mom though. :-)

James M added these pithy words on Jul 15 10 at 9:15 am

What kind of mother am I to abandon my only child for stinky tofu. At least it should be something more classy – caviar maybe.
I will do better next time.
Andrea’s Mom

ANdrea's Mom added these pithy words on Jul 15 10 at 9:50 am

Stinky tofu is delicious, like the fried version better than the steamed. Somehow the steaming process makes the smell more pungent.

Now durian is a food that I wouldn’t touch for all the money in the world.

Charlie added these pithy words on Jan 11 12 at 4:32 pm

Stinky tofu is one of the greatest, most delicious foods ever invented. The “stench” is aromatic for people who have grown up with it like me. After you get used to the smell and taste of stinky tofu you don’t eat regular fried tofu anymore because it tastes disgustingly bland.

Great story btw, it must have been very interesting to see your mom’s reaction. I can imagine how surprising it would be to visit my mom’s hometown in Taiwan with her.

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