Hot Spring Stinky Tofu


The hot spring has a long history of more than two hundred years, and Qi Shang will come here to take water to make tofu everyday. (Xinhua/Ji Guiqiong) 

The Hot Spring Stinky Tofu made in a special ancient way is one of the favourite homely foods for people living in Jiangchuan District, Yuxi City, Yunnan Province. In the past, a village called Hot Spring in Jiangchuan was famous for its hot spring, but nowadays it is well known for the delicacy Hot Spring Stinky Tofu. 

Hot Spring Sticky Tofu is naturally fermented evenly in a long time, so it is usually addictive with particularly strong smell and taste. 


The chopped tofu is placed on straw for fermenting. (Xinhua/Ji Guiqiong)

A long history of Hot Spring Sticky Tofu

Qi Shangcheng, a 66-year-old villager of Hot Spring, is an expert at making Hot Spring Sticky Tofu. The tofu of his stall in the open market is always crowded by villagers and then sold out quickly every morning. People far or near call him “Tofu Qi”.  “I make and sell tofu all the year round,” he said. 


Qi Shangcheng was filtering soybean milk. (Xinhua/Ji Guiqiong) 

“The water used for making tofu must be the hot spring water. The ancient method also requires the beans to be ground with stone mill and the soy milk to be slowly cooked over wood fire, ” Qi Shangcheng said. “Because of the low profit there are less and less households making tofu in this village. Now, there are only four families who are still making and I am the only one who makes tofu according to the ancient method handed down from our ancestors.” 

According to the aged, the locals used hot spring to make tofu as early as the Daoguang reign of the Qing Dynasty. It is said that at that time, a local farmer surnamed Li went to other places to learn how to make tofu in order to make a living. When he returned to this village, he changed the cold water used to make tofu into the local hot spring water and found that the modified tofu was delicate and smooth with excellent taste. Because the demand often exceeded the supply, with the help of Li, an increasing number of villagers begun making tofu with hot spring.  

Details make sense

Many people believe that it is the natural hot spring, which contains a variety of trace elements,  that makes the tofu delicate, smooth and no sour. 


To ensure the taste, Qi Shangcheng has insisted on filtering soybean milk by hand for decades.  (Xinhua/Ji Guiqiong) 

Another reason for the good taste of Hot Spring Stinky Tofu is fermentation. The time for fermentation depends on the season and temperature, generally about five days and five nights in autumn and winter, and two days and two nights in spring and summer. During the process, every tofu should be turned over to ferment evenly, becoming more sour and smelly. 


Fragrant fried stinky tofu. (Xinhua/Ji Guiqiong)

“Making tofu has become part of my life and I will feel uncomfortable if I don’t do it. I’ll try my best to pass on the ancient method of Hot Spring Tofu making,” Qi Shang said. 

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(Editors: Alison, Christine)

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