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Chinese kid refusing to eat tofu


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My niece, 9, half Chinese, half Portuguese, raised in the USA.

She refuses to eat tofu. We had tried to entice her three times in separate occasions. A firm "no, no, no". No soft tofu. No hard tofu. No fried tofu. No steamed tofu. No soyabean drink.

If a Chinese kid doesn't eat tofu at a young age, it seems unlikely she/he would eat tofu in adulthood. Are there any converts who hated tofu at a young age? For me, growing up in a Chinese culture, eating tofu is a matter-of-fact, kinda. Tofu is bland. Texture is softer than cheese. More like gel perhaps. Is this something that takes getting used to?

Reminds of the movie "Bend It Like Beckham" in which the mom said "And you don't even want to learn how to cook dal!" (for an Indian). I would parity it: "And you don't even want to eat tofu?" (for a Chinese).....

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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It's a texture thing. I know someone who refers to tofu as Wettex (brand of kitchen sponge). I can't speak for whether you grow into it, because my parents had no clue what tofu was when I was a child - but I can say that tastes are evolving. I don't like all the things I liked as a child and now I like a few of the things I didn't .

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I didn't like tofu so much when I was a child, and I hated soybean milk (even Vitasoy chocolate-flavoured).

But now I quite like tofu, and will even eat it without cooking it (is that bad for me?).

And as for soy milk, I hate pretty much all US/Canadian brands with thickeners and artificial flavours, and I've yet to find a Chinese grocery store brand I can drink. But there is a Japanese brand I like a lot, and I not only like their flavoured ones, but their plain one, as well.

So there's still a chance for your niece.

And although I say I'm Thai-Filipino, I'm technically 5/16 Chinese so I feel somewhat qualified to answer. :smile:

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I still don't like it much, so I sympathize with your niece. She doesn't have to like tofu to be Chinese.

I suggest putting a block of firm tofu in a colander, weighting it with a plate topped with a couple cans, and leaving it for 20 mins or more to press out some water and firm up the texture.

Then cook the tofu in a strong flavored sauce, like Ma Po Tofu or in a black bean garlic sauce.

If that doesn't do it, give up.

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I hated it when I was young because it looked like vomit.  Other people who vomit a lot, or who have very active imaginations, might dislike it for that reason, too.  :biggrin:

I'll make sure to NEVER mention this to my kids. :laugh: Both of them love ma po tofu, although we make it typically mild like in Japan.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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I hated it when I was young because it looked like vomit.  Other people who vomit a lot, or who have very active imaginations, might dislike it for that reason, too.  :biggrin:

I'll make sure to NEVER mention this to my kids. :laugh: Both of them love ma po tofu, although we make it typically mild like in Japan.


Unfortunately, I suffered from both those problems as a child. The former explains my childhood distaste for any kind of mushy food (oatmeal), and the latter explains my distaste for things like ketchup with scrambled eggs. I actually don't mind any of those things now.

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I'm pretty sure she can still be Chinese and not eat tofu. She's a kid, give her a break. When I was a kid I ate bologna out of the refridgerator by the packageful, can you imagine how gross? She'll grow and change constantly. Eh. Try giving her battered fried tofu sticks with ketchup.

It might be a texture thing. My kid pukes up scrambled eggs, but is happy to eat them hard boiled. I have no idea why.

“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”
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I felt the same way when my son hated potato!

how could he live in this country or be from the US if he did not eat a potato ever?????

well in the big picture ..dose it really matter?

ps as he got older he appreciated them more ..never loved them but would eat them

Edited by hummingbirdkiss (log)
why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?


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I'm not Chinese, and I can't claim to be an expert on children. But I agree with what others have said, lots of kids are picky about odd things, and they often grow out of it. I was, and did. I think if you make a big deal about it, your niece is likely to be more resistant, and will be less likely to ever eat tofu. Just continue to offer it, but not pressure her, and cross your fingers. (And if she doesn't like tofu when she gets older, blame it on the Portuguese.)

Another track: has she tried Burmese tofu (made with chickpeas)? She might like it better, as it has more flavor than Chinese tofu. Deep-fried, it's pretty irresistable.

Edited by Andrew Fenton (log)
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Tofu takes on the flavour of just about anything -like a sponge- so I suppose you could just adjust the flavourings to one of her favourite foods? But I gave up when I read she didn't like deep fried tofu *shock*.

Honestly, though, like everyone else said, just give her time. Or maybe you can feed her Teochew style spring rolls. They're shrimp-pork mixture wrapped inside a deep fried tofu skin. I'd faint from shock if she hated that. But yes, try tofu skin fried (with anything inside).

Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog


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Nothing unusual about that (although I'm tempted to go with Ben Hong's comment LOL!) -- I know one half-Korean, half-American kid who refuses to eat PBJ and mac & cheese!

There's no accounting for picky kids' tastes!

I'd say give it a rest until she's older and grows out of it -- or place some enticing dish on the table that your niece doesn't know is tofu and don't try to push her into eating it.

My daughter (who is thoroughly American but was exposed to all kinds of ethnic delights when she was a baby) went through a "white food" phase for years. Then suddenly, since she turned 11, she's been trying everything, the weirder the better! I asked her what suddenly made her so adventurous. She shrugged and said, "Tastes change."

Hey, it's not as bad as my Chinese friend in high school who hated rice!!!


"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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(And if she doesn't like tofu when she gets older, blame it on the Portuguese.)

Ha ha ha... LOL! This is so funny!

I know I know. She will remain a half-Chinese as she is, eating tofu or not. Much like an Italian kid who doesn't eat pasta, or an Indian kid who doesn't eat curry (is it possible?), or an American kid who doesn't eat hotdog... wait wait wait... if you don't eat hotdog, you are not a Yankee, period! :laugh::laugh:

And it doesn't matter what form of tofu it is or what sauce is on it... my niece's refusal is very universal. :huh:

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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I shouldn't admit to this, but many years ago I dealt with a couple of people who were "tofu haters". And every chance they got, they made fun of it and anyone who ate it, especially in front of me, since they knew that I love tofu, it is one of my favorite foods.

I tired of their mindless diatribes and decided to "persuade" them to my way of thinking. I invited them over for lasagna dinner. I made the lasagna with soft tofu instead of ricotta and soy cheese instead of mozzarella.

After they gobbled up the dinner, complimented me heavily on such a wonderful meal, etc., I announced that the entire dish was made with tofu and soy products.

I can still remember the look on their faces!

After they got over the initial shock, they actually lightened up on their anti-tofu crusade.

Still, I probably shouldn't admit having done this, but I felt it was necessary in defense of the world's finest food product! To this day, I don't understand why so many people in the United States "hate" tofu - most of them have never even tried it!

For this reason, I mostly refer to it now as "bean curd". Strange how some people who "hate" tofu, and won't try it, are perfectly happy to be served a dish containing "bean curd." :raz:

Perhaps if you serve your niece "bean curd" instead of tofu, she will try it? If not, I say wait a few years. Her tastes will change. I refused to eat shrimp until I was 23 years old (it grossed me out) and now it is also on my favorite food list. :wink:

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I didn't eat tofu-or bean curd, the term I much prefer, until I was twenty or so. I'm very keen now, though, in all its forms, particularly home-made soft beancurd and the various dried products. It does need meat to be at best in general, though.

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