Some love it, others hate it, but one thing’s for sure — you’re unlikely to find a lukewarm opinion on stinky tofu, a street-side snack that’s ubiquitous throughout Hong Kong. Marinated in a brine of fermented milk, vegetables and meat — and other ingredients, too, depending on where you are — stinky tofu is prepared in a variety of ways throughout Taiwan and Mainland China. In Hong Kong, it’s most commonly deep-fried and served with hoisin and chilli sauce.
But what about where the pungent snack originated from? Some say the Shanghainese brought it to Hong Kong in the 1930s, but its actual creation goes way further back. One legend recounts that a scholar-turned-food-vendor accidentally whipped up the dish in Anhui during the Qing Dynasty. After storing a large amount of unsold tofu in jars and forgetting about them, some time later he discovered a green, smelly substance that was surprisingly tasty — so tasty that he decided to sell it, to great success. Delicious.