Through my random research on Chinese food, sometimes I learn a bunch of cool factoids. Will be recording them on a daily basis.
Stinky tofu was loved by the dowager empress Cixi during the Qing Dynasty. Because it’s real name was too offensive, they renamed it 情片 (dark blue piece) after its briny black and blue tint. [Source: Baidu]
The black ones are the original version that have been fermented for months. There’s a portion of the tofu that’s golden but that’s traditionally covered with chili sauce.
History lesson: “In the 8th year of Kangxi’s reign in the Qing Dynasty, Wang Zhihe, born in Xianyuan County, Anhui Province, went to Beijing to participate in the imperial examination. Unfortunately, he failed the exam and made a living in Beijing by grinding tofu. One day, his tofu did not sell well and there was much left. Afraid that the tofu would turn bad, he cut the tofu into small pieces and placed them into a jar mixed with salt and spicery. Then, he sealed the mouth of the jar and thought that the preserved bean curd could be produced by this approach. Some days later, he opened the jar and found to his surprise that the tofu inside the jar was quite tasty. So he tried to sell it, which soon won the favor of the customers and became famous from then on.” [Source: Cultural China]
And there’s a stinky tofu museum in China! Named after the founder of the dish.