August 31, 2022

Homemade Chinese Fermented Beancurd Tofu 腐乳

Chinese, recipe, Fermented Tofu, tofu cheese, preserved tofu, 腐乳, 豆腐乳, 乳腐, 豆乳, 豆鹹, chao

I’m so excited to share this food adventure with you all!  When this idea first hit me I was like hey, what could be simpler and more amazing than making homemade Chinese fermented tofu?  We love how fermenting transforms tofu into a salty, umami packed soft and creamy paste that's just delicious on its own and as a condiment.

For newcomers fermented tofu can be strange at first. But just think about how cheese is fermented  milk.  As everyone can agree, cheese is YUMMY!!  Well fermented tofu is similar and just as YUMMY!  Find out more at our post all about fermented beancurd.

I'm pleased to report that it's actually really easy to make your own Homemade Chinese Fermented Beancurd Tofu 腐乳.   (Although we did hit a wee road bump in the middle.)  The brining time is long but soonish you too can enjoy amazing umami packed squares of fermented tofu yummiliciousness.

Chinese, recipe, Fermented Tofu, tofu cheese, preserved tofu, 腐乳, 豆腐乳, 乳腐, 豆乳, 豆鹹, chao

One of the reason this idea was so appealing was because it was so simple and basic.  All I needed to start was a square of fresh tofu!  As you know tofu comes in different firmnesses from silky to firm.  I decided on firm tofu since there was a lot of handling and I wanted to give my tofu the best chance of surviving intact.  

Next time, however, I think I will use medium firm tofu to allow the final texture of the fermented tofu to be even softer.

Chinese, recipe, Fermented Tofu, tofu cheese, preserved tofu, 腐乳, 豆腐乳, 乳腐, 豆乳, 豆鹹, chao

The tofu is boiled to cook away the slightly grassy flavor of raw tofu.

Chinese, recipe, Fermented Tofu, tofu cheese, preserved tofu, 腐乳, 豆腐乳, 乳腐, 豆乳, 豆鹹, chao

The boiled tofu is scooped out and placed onto paper towels.  The next step is an important one.  As much water as possible needs to be squeezed out of your tofu.  More paper towels on top and a heavy pot will do the trick.

The reason that this step is important is because the final stage of preparing fermented tofu is immersion in a brine.  If too much water is still left in the tofu it will dilute the brine and therefore the flavor of the final result.

Chinese, recipe, Fermented Tofu, tofu cheese, preserved tofu, 腐乳, 豆腐乳, 乳腐, 豆乳, 豆鹹, chao

This is the tofu after pressing and many changes of paper towels.  See how it’s now about half the height as the before squeezed photo?  Be patient and really get that water out!

Chinese, recipe, Fermented Tofu, tofu cheese, preserved tofu, 腐乳, 豆腐乳, 乳腐, 豆乳, 豆鹹, chao

I was nervous about this next bit.  To deliberately let something become moldy is not an experience often pursued.  An act of faith, if you will, that it would become something other than a stinky, moldy, dangerous mess.  I guess nowadays we’re just out of touch with this natural process and what to expect of it.

I sliced the tofu into neat little cubes, covered it with a plastic bag and left it in a warm dark spot for a couple of days.

Chinese, recipe, Fermented Tofu, tofu cheese, preserved tofu, 腐乳, 豆腐乳, 乳腐, 豆乳, 豆鹹, chao

After three days, here is the result.  Fascinating!  Look at that mold, just growing everywhere.  And it was way less stinky than I was worried it would be.  

Note that if there are lots of black and green mold than your fermentation is a bust and you’ll have to start over.  However if you only had a few dots of black mold like I did you can just scrap it off and proceed.

Chinese, recipe, Fermented Tofu, tofu cheese, preserved tofu, 腐乳, 豆腐乳, 乳腐, 豆乳, 豆鹹, chao

This is the part that I love, the part where you pack your homemade foodstuff into jars.  There’s just something so satisfying about it!  Gently, gently pick up the tofu with clean, dry chopsticks and pack them into a jar.  

I packed into two jars because I wanted to make one plain flavored and one spicy flavored.

Chinese, recipe, Fermented Tofu, tofu cheese, preserved tofu, 腐乳, 豆腐乳, 乳腐, 豆乳, 豆鹹, chao

This is the plain flavored jar, the tofu packed in and the previously prepared and cooled brine poured in.  The next and final step is super duper easy but long….you’ve got to wait! 

Chinese, recipe, Fermented Tofu, tofu cheese, preserved tofu, 腐乳, 豆腐乳, 乳腐, 豆乳, 豆鹹, chao

After waiting for a month as most recipes indicated we were super excited to try our own homemade Chinese fermented tofu.  We eagerly anticipated a glorious end to this food adventure.  

We fetched the jar of fermented tofu out from its dark corner.  Carefully picked one cube out to taste.    Nibble, nibble...wait...it didn't taste right!  There was none of that powerful flavor punch and the texture wasn't meltly enough.  Oh no, major road bump!  Bummer 🙁...

Disappointed we shoved those jars back into their dark corner and forgot all about them.  A couple months later I recalled that they were still there.  Curious, I dug out one.  It still looked okay so I decided to have another go at it.   

OMgosh!  Deliciously soft and smooth!  Salty umami flavor bursting on my tongue!  It turns out that the development of Chinese fermented tofu cannot be rushed.  Actually we’ve decided to leave the jars in their dark warm spot to develop their flavors even further.   

To eat fermented tofu, serve one cube as a side dish.  Use chopsticks to pick up a tiny bit fermented tofu (the flavor and saltiness go a long way) and smear it on a bit of rice to eat together.  Or use as a condiment by adding to stir fry vegetables or using to marinate meats.

Happily, the end of our food adventure was a happy one!  If you like fermented tofu do try making your own.  It’s fun and easy to do and I’m thinking that the flavors might even be better than a lot of store bought fermented tofu!
Chinese Fermented Beancurd Tofu Recipe
(adapted from recipe here)  (makes 2 jars)
Prep time: 10 mins  Ferment Time: 3 days  Brine Time: 3 months

Ingredients:
    Brine

Directions:

Add water (enough to cover tofu) and salt to small pot. When water is boiling slide in the tofu and let simmer for 5 mins.

Remove tofu from water and put on top of a couple sheets of paper towel.  Add a few sheets on top as well, then place heavy object over the top.  (I used my cast iron pot.)  This pressure will squeeze the water out of the tofu.  When paper towels are sopping wet, change the paper towels.  Repeat until the tofu is as dry as possible.

Slice the squeezed tofu into cubes.  Place fresh paper towel on to a plate or tray.  Place the tofu cubes on plate without touching each other.  Cover securely with a plastic bag to prevent any dust settling.  Leave in a warm dark place for 3 days.  

Check in at 3 days.  The tofu should be spotted with yellow and orange and a bit stinky.  If not like this, cover and wait another day.

When tofu looks the right kind of moldy, prepare the brine.  Add water, salt, sugar and spices (expect chilli) into small pot and boil for a couple of minutes.  Let the brine cool completely and then add the rice wine.  Strain out the spices.

Use chopsticks to gently pick up half of the tofu cubes and place into a jar.   Dip the other half of tofu into the chopped chilli on all sides before placing into a second jar.  Pour the brine into each jar until the tofu is covered.  Cap jars.

Place into a dark warm place.  Let brine for as least 3 months.  Using clean dry chopsticks, remove a cube at a time to eat.  Store in dark place or the fridge.  Enjoy!

Fermented Foods at The Hong Kong Cookery:




Google

2 comments:

  1. oh, I *LOVE* fermented tofu/chao/furu so much! it adds so much umami. I even use it as part of my marinade when flavoring tofu to later fry! or as part of the batter. it's so good almost any way.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Diane - right with you there, we love this stuff too! I've never tried marinating tofu with it, sounds delish, gotta try that out. As a fermented tofu lover, you should give this homemade version a try, the flavor is really awesome. ~ellen 😋

    ReplyDelete