Tofu Roo / Tofu Ru

29 Jul

Guess what? I’m coming up on the third anniversary of my moving to Columbus, Ohio. I like it here. For the most part, I really do. Other times, I get really homesick for all the delicious things that aren’t available in Ohio. Like 小龙饱 soup dumplings . And 羊泡馍 lamb pao mo. But you know what we have tons of? Tons of fresh fruits and vegetables 6 months a year. We also have tons of corn and soybeans. A lot. We are the 34th largest state and yet the 6th largest producer of soybeans in the country.

And do you know who likes to eat a lot of soybeans? Besides the feedlot cows that get soy meal? Asian folk. We make everything out of soy. We’ve got the ubiquitous soy sauce (with varying degrees of aging), multiple styles of condiments (miso, gochujang, 豆豉 dou chi), and every aspect of the meal: broths (tofu jigae and miso/shoyu ramen/咸豆酱 salty soy milk soup), appetizers (rolled tofu skin), entrees (homestyle fried and stewed tofu clay pots), salads (vinagered tofu noodles), snacks (roasted edamame), and desserts (豆花 silken tofu in simple syrup). PHEW that’s a lot.

So it’s kind of funny that this stuff in the picture is my hotly anticipated autumn condiment mix-in for my morning oatmeal. It’s fermented tofu (豆腐乳). It’s salty with sweet overtones. Some liken it to blue cheese. You see, it’s really quite pungent, with a creamy texture like gorgonzola; it has the same way of coating the top and bottom of your tongue with awesome umami flavor. It’s like vegemite mixed with blue cheese mixed with my oatmeal. (Hey, that sounds pretty good too…) I figured that if I liked a stinky blue cheese risotto, it wasn’t that far a leap to put another fermented stinky cube in my slow cooked grains. It certainly helps the association that while growing up, I had this stuff along side my morning slow cooked grain, rice, aka congee (粥). Other uses: stir fried with water spinach (空心菜, morning glory, kang kong).

It’s also funny that I bought myself a bottle of this at CAM on Bethel Road. I live in Ohio, less than 20 miles from soybean fields, and I buy fermented tofu imported from Taiwan. In any case, my father advises that I eat less of it as it’s rumored (old tai tai’s tale?) to cause cancer.

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