Tofu: Miscellaneous

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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An example of pickled tofu and of the many specialities in Japan is umesutsuke, tofu pickled in plum vinegar, with a purple exterior.

One important Chinese speciality, hardly known at all in Japan, is dofu nao. This is a very soft form, sometimes referred to as ‘smooth curds’. In fact, the Chinese name means literally ‘bean brain’, referring to the brain-like texture. It is treated like a sort of pudding, and vendors do a brisk trade in it from their carts. The scene is vividly described by Shurtleff and Aoyagi:

Customers seat themselves at stools around the cart and get ready for a hearty breakfast (costing less than 5 cents). The vendor ladles out scoops of custard-like curds into deep bowls, tops them with a warm syrupy sauce (hung t’ang) containing peanuts and brown sugar, and places them (together with porcelain spoons) on the edge of the cart, which serves as a table. In some areas the curds are mixed with cha-t’sai pickles, tiny dried shrimp, soy sauce, and a dash of sesame oil, then served as a thick soup. In others, they are mixed with sweet oil, vinegar, finely chopped meat, or spices.