April POM: Super Sale on Sichuan Fermented Tofu

April 03, 2024

April POM: Super Sale on Sichuan Fermented Tofu


Return of the POM

Greetings, Friends of The Mala Market 
Yay, spring! Not only is the weather turning but we're returning to our habit of running a super sale on one product each month. So to kick us off, as 2024's first product of the month, we have Sichuan fragrant-hot fermented tofu, or furu!

If you've always wanted to try furu—sometimes called Chinese cheese—but weren't quite convinced to pull the $15 trigger on something you hadn't had before, then this is your chance to get it at 40% off and give it a try. 

Note two things:
  1. Along with featuring funk, heat and umami, furu is salty. And it's supposed to be. That's what preserves it. Eat in small quantities as a flavoring, not the main event. 
  2. It's best-by date is July 2024. However this fermented product actually lasts indefinitely in the refrigerator—and some say even gets better with age. 
Keep reading for our latest obsessive use of furu (hint: it includes butter!).
🌶 Taylor & Fongchong 🌶

P.S. After an unprecedented five-year absence, we will be traveling in Sichuan for the month of May! The Mala Market will remain open in May, but will have a skeleton staff, so it may take longer than usual to ship orders and to answer emails. We will remind you again later this month so that you can place any urgent or large orders in April. 
Jiajiang Fragrant-Hot Fermented Tofu (Fermented Bean Curd, Furu)
Jiajiang Fragrant-Hot Fermented Tofu (Fermented Bean Curd, Furu)

Normally $15, our Sichuan Fermented Tofu is the Product of the Month and is 40% off!

Fermented tofu, also known as preserved tofu, fermented bean curd, jiang doufu, doufuru or simply furu, is yet another in the vast Chinese cupboard of ultra-umami condiments. You either already love it or soon will—that is if you like a slight tinge of aged funk on your savory, salty treats. 

Fermented tofu is also called Chinese cheese, as it is similar in texture, look and even flavor to soft aged cheeses like feta and blue cheese. Just as microbes turn dairy into cheese, they also turn tofu into a creamy, flavorful spread. 

We are proud to introduce to the U.S. Sichuan's most storied brand of furu, Jiajiang, which was founded in 1861 and has the status of Sichuan Intangible Cultural Heritage. Jiajiang refers to Jiajiang County, which is part of greater Leshan City in central Sichuan. 

Furu is widely made in China, and each region has its own method and ingredients. Jiajiang begins by stone-grinding soybeans to make tofu, cutting the tofu into small cubes, inoculating it with microbes, and leaving it to grow a snowy-white mold covering in a precisely controlled environment. This is the process of protein decomposition and conversion into amino acids.

After the initial fermentation is complete, the tofu cubes are packed into clay crocks and mixed with salt, rice wine and spices, including chilies and Hanyuan Sichuan pepper, and left to ferment for 180 days. The finished furu is then bottled with freshly made Sichuan-flavored spicy oil. No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives are added. 

While the Jiajiang Qingjiang Brewery makes several versions, our current batch is xiang la, or fragrant hot. The creamy, salty, boozy and tangy fermented tofu is bathed in a contrasting chili oil with significant spicy heat. 


Furu Butter

I mixed fragrant-hot furu with softened butter and my life will never be the same.

(See top photo!)

Even if you don't think fermented tofu is too intense on its own (and I certainly don't), mixing it with butter amps up the creamy, buttery aspect of furu while taming its wilder side. 

Use 1 cube furu for every 2 tablespoons softened butter and smash it up with a fork until smooth. 

Some ideas for using it:

  • spread on a crusty baguette
  • or on any kind of bao
  • or on Chinese scallion bread (da bing, the fat version of scallion pancake, recipe by Frankie Gaw)
  • or on an egg sandwich
  • spread on toasted bread and then top with thin slices of radish or cucumber
  • mix into roasted vegetables such as brussel sprouts or asparagus as they come out of the oven (video by Lisa Lin)
  • or add as the finishing touch to stir-fried bok choy or other greens (similar to our recipe for stir-fried yuchoy with furu)
  • mix into warm noodles (or boring instant noodles)
What are your ideas?