A few weeks ago, I went shopping in an Asian supermarket (at Sunnybank, opposite the defunct Magic Wok for my Brisbane readers). There on the shelf, I saw fermented tofu. My mind immediately went "Aha - like blue cheese - BUY IT!" However, I was cautious and only bought the little 150g bottle. I bought the white version, without chilli, as I thought that that would better fit my stinky cheese cravings. It is officially called Hunsty Sze Chuan Preserved Beancurd.
So what is it like? It is bitter and salty, a lot like blue cheese. It has a soft creamy mouthfeel, a bit like soft cheese. Though it is sharper and more tangy, it has an almost "too much" flavour, in the same way that a good blue cheese danced on the edge of being objectionable. It does not taste like a blue cheese, but it has many of the same characteristics for me. I have hit the vegan replacement jackpot. Next time I will buy the big bottle!
I have tried it with bread and liked it. Last night, as the kids had already eaten sushi when we went for a drive to Mt Glorious, I decided to make a quick pasta sauce with the stinky tofu. I have scaled up the recipe below from my single serve.
Pasta with Peas and Preserved Beancurd
1 large onion, sliced lengthways into fine slices
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons good peppery extra virgin olive oil (can be reduced if you don't like too much oil)
2 cups frozen peas
300 g pasta (or more for big eaters)
250g white preserved/stinky tofu, drained (the weight includes with the liquid - reserve liquid for now)
Good bunch oregano (approx 1/2 cup leaves), with a few sprigs reserved for garnish
Salt and black pepper to taste.
- Cook pasta, following packet directions.
- Cook peas for a few minutes only, until hot but not mushy
- While the pasta and peas are cooking, gently fry onion in a large pan with a little olive oil. Add the sugar to the onion while it is cooking. Cook until it is translucent. Remove from heat.
- Once the pasta and peas are cooked, stir all ingredients together in the pan with the onion. The preserved tofu should dissolve and barely coat the pasta.
- Heat pasta gently, if necessary, to make it hot and to wilt the oregano. Taste. Adjust seasoning. If you wish a stronger stinky tofu flavour, add a little of the reserved tofu liquid (be careful, it's strong).
- Serve garnished with reserved oregano sprigs.
I think that this recipe would also be great with roast pumpkin, pine nuts and sage replacing the peas and oregano.