What Is Chinese Fermented Bean Curds? – Detailed Answer

Fermented bean curd is also called the Chinese Tofu. Processed Tofu is prevalent in East Asia, especially in China where it is used as a dipping sauce or a flavor in porridge and rice. Some people call it the Chinese cheese and it comes in red and white. You can get a freshly packed jar if you live in Mainland China.

What is Chinese Fermented Bean Curd?

The Chinese fermented bean curd is made of soybeans, salt, rice wine, and vinegar. Some people use sesame oil in the place of vinegar. This Asian delicacy can be used as an ingredient, condiment, or an additional flavor to foods such as rice dishes. This Tofu is dated to the Han Dynasty in 179 to 122 century BC. The prince whose name was Liu An is said to have created and started the manufacture of the fermented bean curd.

The soybean curd has names such as lǔfǔ, and it’s translated as soy cheese and dòufǔrǔ in Mandarin. This soybean curd is still widely used till date as either condiment or sauce mostly due to its rich and bold flavors. The Chinese add it after cooking a hot meal to season or enhance flavor. It is mostly stored without sterilization by using lots of salt that makes the bean curd suitable for soup bases and seasoning.

Types of fermented bean curd

There are two main types of bean curds. There are red and white bean curds. They both contain a salty and soft texture that resembles that of cheese.

White fermented bean curd

As the name depicts, this bean curd has a white tone. This bean curd contains soybeans, water, salt sesame oil, soybean oil, malic, and citric acid. It is mostly cut into rough cubes and pickled into large jars. The fermented Tofu is not a discovery as it has been traced to 1861 when author Wang Su noted that this condiment was unsuitable for children. The ingredients and the method used to make the white bean curd is similar to the red curd save for wine and red rice yeast.

Red fermented bean curd

The bean curd has a red tone due to the presence of wine and red rice yeast. Other ingredients include soybean, sesame oil, water, salt, malic, and citric acid. The brining color and red rice yeast are responsible for the deep red color. If you try this flavor out and compare it to the white bean curd, you will notice that the red curd has an intense taste and has a more pronounced red rice wine taste. It is mainly used in marinade and stews for seasoning.

How to make fermented bean curd

You will be surprised to note that the fermenting procedure closely mimics that of cheese production. The red bean curd is made by first fermenting the bean curd by introducing mold to the tofu and letting it grow for some days. The next step is to make the brining liquid which contains salt, red yeast rice wine, sesame oil or vinegar, chili, cinnamon, and ginger. Let your solution marinate in the brining liquid for several weeks or months. Some people leave it for a year.

The white bean curd is made similar to the red curd but does not contain the red yeast rice wine. All you need to do is to keep an eye on your tofu and look out for consistency changes and flavor. Great fermented bean curd is hardened in consistency. As for the flavor, spread a little fermented bean curd on a bun and taste. Once you are satisfied, you can start using it in your stews and soups.

How to eat Fermented bean curd

After you have successfully made your fermented bean curd, how do you consume it? You can use it as a condiment. After preparing your stew, add some of the curds to enhance the flavor. In dipping sauce, the fermented bean curd is perfect for flavoring. All you have to do is add some to your sauce and enjoy a flavored meal.

If you are making a simple dish or rice or porridge, the fermented bean curd can come in handy as a hint of salt and flavor. This means you can use it as a side dish without adding anything to it. When you don’t want meat in your diet but are looking for something balanced, you can add the bean curd as a rich source of protein to your casseroles, stews, curries, and stir-fries.

Is Chinese fermented bean curd healthy?

Yes, it is. According to some studies, bean curd has been associated with reduced coronary heart diseases, prevention of osteoporosis, and lowered blood pressure. This is due to the production of isoflavones in the fermenting process. Soybeans are rich in plant-based proteins for muscle build-up and general body rejuvenation.

The health benefits are endless as it has also been linked to  reduced risk of cancer, stroke, and a boost in healthy cholesterol. According to Health line medical information, Chinese bean curd is ideal for weight loss. If you are concerned with the high levels of sodium, the side effects are negligible as most of it is evenly distributed in the foods it is added to. Nutritional benefits include calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, and magnesium. Your body will also get a boost of vitamins and minerals.

Is Fermented bean curd Halal?

The word Halal is Arabic, and it means permissible. Anything that is not halal is not allowed in Islam. While all items fermented to produce alcohol are not halal, the fermented bean curd is exempt as the ethanol production during the fermenting process is not enough to make it halal. The only point to note is that soybeans should not be genetically modified.

Conclusion

While the first glance of the Chinese fermented bean curd can be a complete turn-off, the taste is opposite. It is tasty and full of health benefits. The Chinese market has freshly processed pieces, but other parts of the world receive it in jars of brine.

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