Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pasta with peas and preserved beancurd

I had read a while back that fermented tofu aka preserved tofu aka stinky tofu was a bit like blue cheese. Pregan, I loved blue cheese, especially in pasta sauces or with gnocchi.

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

Serves 6

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.
  1. Cook pasta, following packet directions.
  2. Cook peas for a few minutes only, until hot but not mushy
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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).
  6. Serve garnished with reserved oregano sprigs.
This really reminded me of pasta dressed with blue cheese. I loved it. My single serve ended up split with Z, who is a pasta fiend. He pronounced it "great, the best ever" and asked for me to make it again. I offered tastes to the others. J said it was "meh", but he has never liked blue cheese. Another blue cheese hater, Mr BrisVegan said it was "not me", which tends to confirm my impression that it was a good blue cheese facsimile. Miss M refused to try it.

I think that this recipe would also be great with roast pumpkin, pine nuts and sage replacing the peas and oregano.


  1. I've wanted to try stinky tofu since I saw it on another blog a year or so ago. Is it actually stinky?

  2. The brand of preserved tofu that I got is no worse than stinky blue cheese. Of course, I keep the lid tightly on the jar, in the fridge. :)

  3. Oh wow that sounds great! That's decided then, I'm off to check out the Asian supermarkets near me this weekend!