The Stinky Tofu Incident

Can you imagine eating something that smells like a cross between sweaty gym socks, sickly-sour vomit and rotten fish? Better still, would YOU dare to eat it? Believe it or not, this is a wildly popular street snack in Taiwan!

Taiwan's famous Stinky Tofu snack

Taiwan’s famous Stinky Tofu snack

I’m talking about Stinky Tofu. Yes, Stinky Tofu. That is the actual name of this olfactory-attack of a night market staple.

Stinky Tofu has kind of been haunting me for quite some time now. Also popular in China and Hong Kong, I’ve been assaulted with the formented tofu’s (ahem) unique smell many a time. In fact, I live just mere blocks from a Stinky Tofu street in Hong Kong. I’ve tried on numerous occasions to gather up the courage to try the local specialty but every single time, the smell just literally knocked me back. Believe me. It’s scary stuff.

While I was in Taiwan, I decided I had to try the infamous Stinky Tofu and unlock the secret for myself of just what makes it so darn appealing.

When I made my way to my first Taipei night market with Brett of Our Tasty Travels, I told myself to be brave. I was really going to do it this time. As we approached the night market stall, I was silently vomiting in my mouth from the pungent smell already choking me. Before I had a chance to run away, Brett ordered a plate and placed it before me. There was no turning back now.

I can't believe I'm about to eat this...

I can’t believe I’m about to eat this…

I grabbed my chopsticks and plunged into the dish before my brain had time to process the danger ahead.

The Stinky Tofu was finally in my mouth! I had done it! I started chewing the crispy, deep fried outer skin of the tofu and found the texture surprisingly enjoyable. You cannot imagine my relief to discover that the taste also proved to be pretty darn good! The tangy garlic sauce that the vendor had drizzled over the Stinky Tofu was amazing, particularly since I don’t believe in the phrase: “too much garlic.”

My reaction to my first Stinky Tofu taste

My reaction to my first Stinky Tofu taste

Then the smell came back. This time it was coming from my mouth and it pretty much ruined the entire experience for me.

I’m glad I tried Stinky Tofu, I really am. Now I don’t have to wonder anymore. Overall, it’s not as bad as you would imagine if you base your judgement on the horrendous smell. To be honest, I like the taste of Stinky Tofu a lot. Unfortunately, the pungent and often repugnant aroma comes with the territory, which is enough to repel me away for good. That, and the fact that the smell of Stinky Tofu remained in my mouth for the next three days! No amount of teeth brushing and flossing could get rid of it. It was basically torture, like the ghost of Stinky Tofu Past coming back to pay me a visit.

See, Stinky Tofu haunts me. Hopefully, now that I’ve met it face-to-face, I can lay Stinky Tofu to rest.

Brett from Our Tasty Travels

Brett from Our Tasty Travels

Thanks again to Brett of Our Tasty Travels for showing me that I don’t have to fear Stinky Tofu anymore!

© Connie Hum 2011

Categories: Taiwan

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