Falling in love

By Dong Fangyu ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-05-16 07:30:56

Falling in love

Fermented stinky Mandarin fish-representative of Anhui cuisine with Hunan's spicy flavor. [Photo by Dong Fangyu/China Daily]

Far from sending taste buds into mouth-watering anticipation, the very names "hairy tofu" and "stinky fish" are apt to send many a non-Chinese palate rushing for cover. True, Xiang'ai cannot promise to make you fall in love with these two dishes, but there is a good chance that once you have tried them here, the milder and slightly glamorous twist they are given will truly squash and negative preconceptions.

At Xiang'ai, fermented hairy tofu, a delicacy hailing from Anhui province, is stewed with a homemade Hunan sour and spicy sauce. Unlike stinky tofu (chou dou fu), hairy tofu (mao dou tu) is devoid of the strong smelly flavor. It is named after the white hairy-like downy mould that grows on the surface during fermentation. The result is that the tofu tastes cheesy, creamy and fragrant.

The restaurant also serves stinky Mandarin fish, another representative of Anhui cuisine with Hunan's spicy flavor. The fish is usually fermented for about five days when the meat proteins turn into ammonia, sending out a subtle smelly flavor like a ripe blue cheese.

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