Tofu Utopia: all kinds of Toufu in China

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Rich in protein, calcium and many other nutrients, tofu (beancurd) has always been thought of as a botanical meat substitute. Thus it has long been one of the most important foods for vegetarians in China. For more than 2,000 years tofu been included in cold dishes, hot dishes, stews, hot pots, soups, desserts and even as stuffing in dumplings.


Northern tofu 北豆腐
Common in northern China, also known as marinated tofu, hard tofu, old tofu and board tofu by virtue of its firmness. Formed with brine, has a very strong tofu flavor. Try it in Guota Tofu (锅塌豆腐 RMB 18) – a tofu sandwich with minced meat, baked and sautéed. Yuexian Meishi.
31 Cuihua Hutong, Dongcheng District. (6524 5322) 悦仙美食, 东城区翠花胡同31号(美术馆斜对面)


Southern tofu 南豆腐
Common in the south of China, this tofu is also known as gypsum tofu, silken tofu, tender tofu and soft tofu. It is shaped by a gypsum solution. Its color is pure white. Due to its tender smoothness, it is frequently used in soups. Try it in Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐 RMB 10): the classic Sichuan dish of sliced tofu cubes fried with minced beef and spices, named after an old lady with a pockmarked face. Chuanban.
Mon-Fri 7-9am, 10.50am-2pm, 4.50-9.30pm; Sat-Sun 7am-10pm. 5 Gongyuan Toutiao, Jianguomennei Dajie, Dongcheng District. (6512 2277 ext 6101) 川办餐厅, 东城区建国门内贡院头条5号


Douhua 豆花
Alternately explained as jellied tofu, water tofu or half literally translated as “flower tofu” (fully literal would be “bean flower”). When soy milk is solidified it becomes douhua. In northern China, people eat douhua with salty sauce mixed with a kind of yellow flower vegetable (huanghuacai: Hemerocallis citrina Baroni) and mu’er (wood ear fungus) as breakfast along with their baozi. Along the coastal areas, people eat douhua with kelp slices and shrimp husks (虾皮). In Sichuan, people eat it with minced meat as a hot dish. In some areas people just eat it with sugar; or with ginger ale and rice balls in the winter; or chilled with fruits and green beans in the summer. A.Mu.s. Gatzuu.
Daily 10.30am-9.30pm. In alley opposite Renmin University, 15 Shuangyushu Xili, Haidian District. (5855 4778) 木式家族, 海淀区双榆树西里15号


Tofu skin 豆腐皮
Otherwise known as dried tofu or tofu cloth. There are two ways of making tofu skin. One method is to skim off the layers of solidified soy milk (fuzhu/腐竹, youpi/油皮). The other is to press solidified soy milk with a certain type of cloth (dried tofu/干豆腐, baiye/百叶, qianzhang/千张). Aside from being commonly eaten in hot pot, these items are very important materials for making mock meats. Try the Vegetarian Duck (素鸭 RMB 29) at Gongdelin Vegeterian Restaurant.
Daily 10.30am-9pm. 2 Qianmen Dongdajie, Chongwen District. (6702 0867 ) 功德林素菜馆, 崇文区前门东大街2号


Tofu jerky 豆腐干
This roasted thick dry tofu with many seasonings is also called xianggan (香干): “fragrant jerky.” The most famous tofu jerkies come from Zhejiang province’s Ningbo city and Hunan province’s Youxian (攸县) county. Try the fried green pepper and Youxian tofu jerky (青椒炒攸县香干 28) at Weizhengxiang.
Daily 9.30am-10pm. 1/F, Bldg C, Caizhi Dasha, 18 Zhongguocun Donglu, Haidian District. (8212 3488) 味蒸湘, 海淀区中关村东路18号财智大厦C座1层

Frozen tofu 冻豆腐
Freezing tofu started as a way to preserve the beancurd through the cold long north China winter, when it’s not convenient to make or buy tofu. After melting and draining the water, this tofu becomes spongy with a very interesting taste and texture. A favorite in hot pot and stews. Try the stewed frozen tofu andChinese cabbage (白菜炖冻豆腐 RMB 25) at Dongbeiren.
Daily 11am-10pm. A1 Xinzhong Jie, Dongzhimenwai, Dongcheng District. (6415 2855) 东北人, 东城区东直门外新中街甲1号


Stinky tofu 臭豆腐
This popular snack comes in many different forms, especially in the south. In Jiangsu province’s Yangzhou there is a famous dish called chou da yuan (臭大元) made of stinky tofu, mushroom and bean sprouts. In Hunan province, stinky tofu is called chou ganzi (臭干子): “stinky jerky.” In Zhejiang province’s Shaoxing City, deep fried stinky tofu is very popular in restaurants. In some areas, people also cook stinky tofu in hot pot. Try the deep fried stinky tofu(臭豆腐 RMB 5) at Shanghai Chama Doufugan, a small chain shop selling many kinds of tofu jerkies and bean products.
Di’anmenwai Dajie, Xicheng District. 上海茶马豆腐干, 西城区地安门外大街

Tofu soup 豆腐汤
Tofu is great cooked in soups, especially with fish, because fish is rich in the amino acids necessary for people to absorb the protein in beancurd. When eaten along with the vitamin D provided by fish, tofu’s calcium can be absorbed 20 times more efficiently. Try the tofu soup at Zeyuan (RMB 10/ 16 small/large).
20 Nanchang Jie, Xicheng District. (6602 3542) 泽园酒家, 西城区南长街20号

Ma tofu 麻豆腐
A favorite snack of old Beijing, this is the dregs from grinding beans for other products (e.g. bean starch powder). It tastes similar to its controversial sister bean product, douzhi (豆汁: “bean juice”) – strange and sour – an acquired taste for the lucky ones. Try the ma doufu (RMB 5) at Huguosi Xiaochi.
Daily 5.30am-9pm. 93 Huguosi Dajie, Xicheng District. (6618 1705) 护国寺小吃店, 西城区护国寺大街93号

Colorful tofu 彩色豆腐
A new healthy trend of eating tofu. Mixing vegetable juice with bean juice during the process of making tofu gives it an interesting look and taste, as well as fibrous vegetable goodness. The “three tofu plate” (三色豆腐 RMB 12) includes regular tofu, frozen tofu and black wood ear tofu, which is made of beans and wood ear fungus. Chen A Po Hotpot.
Daily 10am-9.30pm. 14 Shuizhuizi Donglu, Chaoyang Beilu, Chaoyang District. (8598 6330) 陈阿婆, 朝阳区朝阳北路水碓子东路14号

Niang tofu 酿豆腐
Popular Hakka ethnicity dish. Boiled, mashed tofu, onions and pork fried in the shape of cube or ball. Available for RMB 22 at Ho’s Restaurant.
Daily 11am-2pm, 5-9.30pm. 1/F, Ziyuan Yanyuan Hotel, 1 Yiheyuan Lu, Haidian District. (6275 0968) 何贤记, 海淀区颐和园路1号资源燕园宾馆1楼