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Stinky tofu is rewarded with the name “stinky” because of its overpowering scent of soy sauce and flavorful brine.
The brine is made with powerful probiotics from miso paste or fermented bean curd, making it healthy and exceedingly aromatic.
Traditionally, tofu would soak in this brine for several days to even several weeks to get it to inherit this smell.
Despite the name, stinky tofu is actually super flavorful and tasty. It has a slightly earthy, salty flavor with a sweet and tangy undertone.
While in Taiwan, you’ll mostly see it served on its own or with some pickled vegetables. It also pairs great with sauteed vegetables and brown rice for a well-rounded meal.
Unfortunately, the traditional way to prepare stinky tofu isn’t always vegan or even vegetarian.
The stinky brine tofu is soaked in is typically made from either fish, oyster, or shrimp.
If you’re in Taiwan, here are a couple of restaurants that will serve you plant-based versions of this popular dish:
Traditionally, stinky tofu is served on its own, either on a stick or on a plate with fermented cabbage or other pickled vegetables.
In this version, I’m serving stinky tofu with steamed brown rice and sauteed vegetables like cabbage, brussels sprouts, and carrots. Topped with pickled ginger and sliced avocado for that perfectly balanced meal.
Stinky tofu can be made in numerous ways, from cold to hot, steamed to deep-fried.
Its most popular version is deep-fried, so I loved playing around with this recipe with my air-fryer for that perfect, crispy tofu taste without all the extra oil and unnecessary fat!
This recipe yields 4 servings.
1. Press your extra-firm tofu. You can do this by using a tofu press like the one, here. Or you can press your tofu by wrapping it in a towel and putting something heavy on top of it. Set aside for at least 15-20 minutes. The more it’s pressed, the more your marinade will soak into the tofu.
2. Make your marinade. Mix the miso paste, soy sauce, sugar, lemon juice, minced garlic, ginger paste, dried parsley, rice vinegar, fennel powder, and corn starch into a bowl. Whisk until well combined.
3. Add the tofu into your marinade. Seal it with a lid and put it in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.
4. Once your tofu is done steeping, take it out of the fridge and drain the excess liquid.
5. Place the tofu in your air fryer in a single row, making sure there’s space between each piece (I had to do this in 2 separate batches, but trust me, it’s worth it!)
6. Set the air fryer to 400°F for 10-12 minutes. Make sure to shake the basket halfway through to ensure even cooking.
7. While the tofu is cooking, prepare the sauteed vegetables by putting 1 tbsp olive oil in a wok on medium-high heat. Once the oil is heated through, throw your vegetables into the wok.
8. Sauté your vegetables for 6-8 minutes or until tender inside and slightly golden on the outside. Add in the soy sauce and garlic powder.
9. Once the tofu and vegetables are done, serve with some brown rice, sliced avocado, pickled ginger, and optional Asian peanut drizzle.
Below nutritional information includes stinky tofu, sauteed vegetables, half an avocado, ginger slices, and 3/4 cup brown rice.
Serving: 1 serving | Calories: 275 calories | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5.8g | Sodium: 958mg 64% DV | Potassium 713mg 27% DV | Fiber: 5.5g 22% DV | Sugar: 7g | Iron: 4.2mg 23% DV | Calcium: 382mg 38% DV | Vitamin C 82mg 110% DV | Vitamin A 1232IU 53% DV
*Nutrition Information is obtained from the Cronometer app. Some values may vary.
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