Nope, we aren't talking about the famed stinky tofu that some say you can smell from 3 blocks down, inside your car, with the windows up. We are instead talking about fermented tofu, which all at once a condiment, marinade and pantry powerhouse for many Chinese families. These red blocks (and their fairer cousins) are made by fermenting blocks of tofu with rice mould and salt and letting it sit in clay urns for months on end until the desired product is reached. Different spices and seasoning can be employed depending on regional variations.
This creamy block can be easily mashed to add a kick to your favourite marinade - we hear Dan Hong likes to use it to marinade his lamb - or mix it in with stock and cornstarch to create a sauce for your stir-fry. Don't feel like cooking? Well, a pinch of this brings a whole new world of flavour to your plain bowl of congee.
So, how did our judges do in the blind taste test?
(Down the hatch!)
[Dan] [Immediately] I know that! I know exactly what that is.
(Guys, what do you think that is?)
[Mark] I can't nail it...
(Okay, you're all in the same ballpark. Dan, you're actually correct!)
[Dan] Yeah MUTHAF**A
[Melissa] I was going to say soybean paste, and then I was like, 'oh maybe miso'. Should've gone with my first instinct,
[Mark] What was it again?
[Melissa] Fermented tofu.
[Dan] We use it at Mr Wong. We marinate lamb with it, that's why I know! It's really good stir-fried with Chinese water spinach or kangkung, and it's also good as a marinade with stuff. And char siew! You can marinate char siew with it.
[Melissa] I thought it could be a weird variety of miso, cause it had that super umami flavour to it...I was wrong!
The Chefs' Line is back for round 2! Home cooks versus restaurant chefs are getting ready to rumble in our kitchen 6pm weeknights starting Monday, August 6 on SBS and then on SBS On Demand. Visit the program page for recipes, videos, cooking tips and more.
A filling made of fish, black mushroom, preserved cabbage and ginger elevates the humble tofu into a savoury meal.