Friday, July 2, 2010

More fermentation (stinky tofu from 深坑)

麻辣臭豆腐 (mala stinky tofu)

Yes, stinky tofu on a stick is awesome, but what if you're craving soup (I guess this is more appropriate for a Winter type post)? They have that too, in the form of 麻辣臭豆腐 (mala stinky tofu). For around 50 NT (~$1.60), you can get stinky tofu cooked in a blazing hot soup in virtually every single restaurant found on 深坑老街. Essentially, the same semi-firm tofu that goes on skewers (sans frying) is tossed into a pot of pork bone broth, dyed bright red from the 麻辣 flavoring, and left to stew continuously for hours. When served, it's combined with 'red tofu,' made with pig's blood, and left over a burner to continue cooking throughout the meal. How was my red pot of oil?

I probably would've enjoyed this more if it weren't 35 degrees Celsius outside. The entire meal, I was sweating bullets. The color of the soup is deceptively vibrant. The soup isn't all that spicy despite the thick layer of chili oil that sits atop the broth. What kills you is the fact that there's a mini burner underneath the pot, so the dish never actually cools off. I made a few attempts to put out said fire, but they were ultimately futile. Despite my discomfort whilst eating, the variation on the grilling and frying is definitely welcome. The aroma associated with stinky tofu is much more prevalent without the aid of frying covering it up, and it truly allows for the flavor to sing. Fear not about being overpowered by the scent, the mild spiciness will distract you from that.

炸臭豆腐 (fried stinky tofu)

Of course I also got fried stinky tofu. It's pretty much 50 NT everywhere as well. I don't know what I have to say about this. It's fried... so I like it a lot? In all seriousness, the frying dampens the flavor, so despite smelling like someone just rammed a gym sock in your nose and punched you in the stomach, actually eating it is a whole different experience. Anyhoo, these are pretty much the standard ways that stinky tofu is served, I just thought I'd make a couple posts explaining them.

What I can't explain is why Asian people like foods that smell rank. Durian lovers, I'm looking at you too.


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oh snap. I can control the text here?