Stir-Fried Cauliflower With Fermented Bean Curd Recipe

Fermented bean curd imparts a salty-sweet depth.

A cauliflower stir-fry with fermented bean curd.

Serious Eats / Chichi Wang

Why It Works

  • Fermented bean curd imparts a salty-sweet depth that's a nice change from soy sauce or oyster sauce.
  • Cauliflower holds up well to its strong flavor.

Now I know I've already called fermented black beans "the anchovies of Chinese cuisine," but cubes of fermented bean curd run a close second. Actually, fermented bean curd is often compared to cheese because it has a certain funk and runny consistency.

How is it made? Cubes of tofu are first fermented, then soaked in brines that contain a number of ingredients: rice wine, vinegar, chile peppers, cinnamon, star anise, and red yeast rice, the last which imparts the deep red hue that you'll see in certain varieties.

In Chinese households, you're likely to find fermented bean curd set out with accoutrements (pickles, meat floss, thousand year eggs) for a breakfast with rice porridge.

One cube is usually enough for the whole family, and the practice is to dab at it with the tip of your chopsticks, then mix it in a little with your porridge.

Cubes of fermented bean curd.

Serious Eats / Chichi Wang

But if eating fermented bean curd straight-up isn't for you, try stir-frying vegetables with it. One or two cubes can flavor a whole stir-fry dish, imparting a salty-sweet depth that's a nice change from soy sauce or oyster sauce. Fleshy and dense vegetables, like cauliflower, take well to its strong flavor.

Eating fermented tofu with porridge is my preferred method of consumption. A few briny dabs really appease my almost insatiable penchant for salt. Straight out of the jar, it's a treat not unlike a whole pickle.

September 2012

Recipe Facts

Active: 15 mins
Total: 15 mins
Serves: 4 servings

Rate & Comment


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil

  • 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into 1/4-thin slices

  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed

  • 3 tablespoons water or stock

  • 3 cubes red or white fermented bean curd

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat oil in a large wok over high heat until smoking. Add the cauliflower and stir-fry until tender-crisp, about 4 minutes. Push to the sides and add garlic to center. Stir-fry until golden, about 30 seconds. Toss garlic and cauliflower together.

  2. Add the water or stock and cover the wok with a lid. Let the liquid simmer until almost evaporated, about 2 minutes.

  3. Remove the lid and add the cubes of fermented bean curd. Break up the bean curd with a spatula and toss the cauliflower around to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a plate and serve immediately.

Special Equipment



To learn more about tofu, check out our guide to tofu types here.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
124 Calories
7g Fat
11g Carbs
5g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 124
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7g 10%
Saturated Fat 1g 3%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 253mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 11g 4%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 32mg 160%
Calcium 27mg 2%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 193mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)