Fermented Bean Curd (Fermented Tofu)

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Fermented bean curd is simply tofu that’s been preserved and is used as both a condiment as well as a cooking ingredient in East Asia and some parts of South East Asia.

Red Fermented Bean Curd (Tofu)

Fermented tofu (fu ru) comes in many guises, most notably the white and red, hence the moniker white fermented bean curd and red fermented bean curd (as in the pictures here).

Despite its colour, it’s not spicy at all

How is Fermented Bean Curd Made?

The method for all types is basically the same:

  • cubes of tofu are allowed to air dry and ferment under dry straw
  • they are then soaked in a mixture of brine, rice wine and/or spices and left to ferment further
  • commercially grown batches has mould introduced to it, not unlike cheese and tempeh.

The white version is the simplest form; the red one has red yeast rice introduced to it, and also chilli in some varieties.

There is also Chiang fermented bean curd; here the tofu cubes are fermented in soy sauce or miso paste. The latter is definitely the prefered method in Japan.

How to use Fermented Bean Curd?

Fermented bean curd can be used as both a condiment and a cooking ingredient, as mentioned at the start of this article.

  • Adding it to one’s breakfast congee is a very popular thing to do.
  • It makes a great dipping sauce. Use it as is, straight out of the jar, or lighten it with some soy sauce or rice wine vinegar. In this instance, mash it up slightly with the back of a spoon or fork, as the tofu is extremely soft.
  • As an ingredient, add it to stir fries, fried rice or noodles for added dept.
  • It also depends the flavours of stews and soups. I use it in many East Asian recipes, including Buddha’s Delight, below.
Buddha’s Delight

Substitute for Fermented Tofu

It’s not that easy to substitute. However, you can use a little miso paste to mimic that deep flavour that fu ru imparts in dishes. Red miso and white miso accordingly, depending on the colour of your tofu.

Fu Ru can be used in the following too:

I don’t have a whole lot of recipes on this site using fu ru (I need to rectify that, I know). So in the meantime, here are some examples of recipes that would just love a little of this fermented magic in them!

Vegan Sayur Lemak (Vegan Yellow Coconut Curry)
Sayur Lemak Serani is a vegetarian coconut curry from Singapore, lighter than its Malay and Indonesian counterparts. This is my veganised version.
Get the Recipe!
yellow vegetable curry in black bowl, dark food photography, curry food styling, Vegan Sayur lemak
Vegan Vietnamese Tofu and Eggplant
This Vegan Vietnamese Tofu and Eggplant (Cà Tím Xào Đậu Hũ) is a really easy recipe to put together, and perfect with just some boiled rice.
Get the Recipe!
Char Kway Teow (Fried Flat Rice Noodles)
Char Kway Teow is Singaporean and Malaysian Zi Char comfort food at its best. Flat and wide rice noodles are flash fried with just garlic and chilli and filled with any kind of protein you fancy.
Get the Recipe!

If you like the recipe, don’t forget to leave me a comment and that all important, 5-star rating! Thank you!

And if you make the recipe, share it on any platform and tag me @azlinbloor, and hashtag it #linsfood

Lin xx

Red fermented bean curd

How to use Fermented Bean Curd (Fermented Tofu)

Find out how to use fermented bean curd as a condiment and cooking ingredient.
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Course: Ingredients
Cuisine: Chinese, Japanese, Korean
Keyword: fermented,, tofu
Author: Azlin Bloor


Fermented Bean Curd Dipping Sauce

  • 1 Tbsp fermented bean curd
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 spring onion (scallion) sliced
  • 1 red chilli chopped up

As a Cooking Ingredient

  • 1-2 Tbsp fermented bean curd


Fermented Bean Curd Dipping Sauce

  • Mix all the ingredients together, mashing up the soft bean curd slightly.

As a Cooking Ingredient

  • Add after lightly frying the aromatics (garlic, ginger, any onions) and proceed with the rest of the recipe.
Discover more Ingredients!Check out The Ingredients Page