Jiajiang White Fermented Tofu (Fermented Bean Curd, Furu)
Mala Market exclusive
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. Jiajiang refers to Jiajiang County, which is part of greater Leshan City in central Sichuan. Having stood the test of time, Jiajiang Furu is now a Sichuan Famous Brand.
Furu is widely made in China, and each region has its own method and ingredients. As seen in Jiajiang's promotional video below, they begin 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 earthen 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, we chose the mild "fresh-fragrant" flavor, with just a hint of chili and huajiao heat that doesn't mask the taste of the fermented bean curd—which tastes creamy, salty, boozy and tangy from fermentation, but not overwhelmingly so.
(Do not confuse fermented tofu, which has an appetizing fragrance, with stinky tofu, which is made completely differently and is indeed stinky.)
The go-to furu in western China, white furu is generally eaten as as condiment, spread on Chinese steamed buns, for example, or served alongside congee or steamed rice. It can also be used in cooking—mixed into stir-fried greens to produce a super flavorful sauce; added to marinades for steamed and braised meats; and mixed into dipping sauces, including hotpot dipping sauce.
In Yunnan it is added to a sauce for deep-fried potatoes. And Western chefs have snuck it into everything from pasta sauces to salad dressings—anyplace a unique but subtle flavor boost is desired. In our own house, while I reach for parmesan to top a red-sauce pasta, Fongchong tops hers with a cube of furu!
(The other main category of furu is red, which is popular in eastern China and is fermented with red yeast rice, giving its sauce a deep red color and sweeter taste. It is used to color braises and Cantonese BBQ.)
This is a large glass jar of furu, but if you don't eat immediately, it will last indefinitely in the fridge. As a recent furu article, in Food & Wine, advises: "A little goes a long way, but don't worry—this fermented tofu will keep for years, and some say even improve as it ages."
Producer: Jiajiang County Qingjiang Brewery, Sichuan
Size: 12.7 ounces (360 grams)
Ingredients: soybean, water, vegetable oil, salt, chilies, Sichuan pepper, sesame, wine, spices, magnesium chloride (as a coagulant)
Allergens: soybean, sesame
Storage: Store unopened jar at room temperature and refrigerate after opening to compensate for any cross-contamination during use.