Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

liuzhou

Stinky Food

Recommended Posts

My Father loved Oka and Limburger cheese. My Mother kept it between the sets of windows out in the Utility Room.

  • Like 2

Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

About 25 years ago, I was working in a certain College of London University.

A friend was going on a cheap day trip to France - basically a stock up on wine and food at a cheap Calais supermarket and head straight back deal. He asked if I wanted him to bring back anything. I said any interesting cheeses would be great.

He returned and handed over a couple of specimens. I had to go to the library to check out a crucial piece of info and checked my bag into the baggage room. Bags were not allowed in the library itself. Academics are notorious kleptomaniacs.

I intended to be about 10 minutes. But then one thing led to another and one reference had to be cross-checked and five hours later I went back to reclaim my bag.

The baggage room was surrounded by security guards, medical staff, one very angry chief librarian and my immediate superior, I was nearly fired on the spot. Except I had tenure, so they couldn't.

But, it was months before I could sheepishly face them again.

But the cheese was delicious. I just wish I could remember what it was.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Natto.

But the texture is even more revolting.

I also think mackerel smells pretty appalling, but I remember I used to love eating it.

Over the years that I've been vegetarian, I have come to abhor the smell of meat, so it seems there is a psychological aspect to our interpretation of odour.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The King of Stink, namely the Durian. Soooo tasty, but such an awful odour!

I'll also nominate the "blue" fishes (Mackerel amongst 'em), the mould-striped, riper than ripe cheeses (Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Brie, Bleu, and your friends - I'm looking at y'all!).

Oh, and cuy. I adore the flavour of cuy but it's one of the rankest-smelling meats going.

  • Like 2

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The King of Stink, namely the Durian. Soooo tasty, but such an awful odour!

I'll also nominate the "blue" fishes (Mackerel amongst 'em), the mould-striped, riper than ripe cheeses (Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Brie, Bleu, and your friends - I'm looking at y'all!).

Oh, and cuy. I adore the flavour of cuy but it's one of the rankest-smelling meats going.

Yep. Durian, king stinker of the fruits!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

there's a cheese I only know the Bavarian word for, Quargl. It comes in flat disks a bit larger than a dried fig, is semi translucent and stinks to high heavens, but it's so good! Limburger is also quite stinky, but not as bad.

Of course, there's also fish sauce, so good when used correctly, so disgusting in smell. Or thinking about how it's made.

I've never had durian, always tempted when I see them at the Asian markets, one day I'll buy a small one.

  • Like 1

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Like many (but not all) folks who grew up in SE Asia, I find the utter revulsion to the smell of durian that is widespread amongst other folks to be...weird. It's a strong smell, yes, but an utterly delicious smell. Heh. (Both taste and smell will vary depending on the durian and the ripeness - there are many subspecies/varieties/cultivars of durians; it is not a monolithic fruit)

Another type of foodstuff which seems to be repulsive to many (but again, not all) Occidental people is Chinese/Cantonese salted fish - especially the lesser grades of the stuff. It can be pungent in smell but is nicely savory to me - except for the worst examples. Another acquired taste/smell, perhaps. I once asked a Chinese restauranteur here in the USA (in Indy, to be precise) if she had some salted fish and if she could whip up a plate of steamed chopped salted fish and pork mince - and she told me in no uncertain terms that she did not have any salted fish in the restaurant and would never put any such dish on the menu because people (mainly Caucasian at this place) would flee from the place if such a dish were to be brought out. Curiously, some folks also seem to have a revulsion to dried shrimps/prawns (har mai; 蝦米) especially when cooked. Curious. It smells and tastes delicious to me.

I don't usually eat cheese (or much of it, anyway) but find the blue cheeses (Gorgonzola, Stilton, etc) to be strong in aroma but pleasantly savory nonetheless and very tasty - although I find that eating a little is sufficient rather than huge chunks of it.

For myself it seems to be more the case that if something smells really bad to me I tend not to eat it and if I do don't really like it - and off the top of my head I can't think of a contrary example where I find something repulsive in smell but delicious in taste... Badly prepared kidney, for example, that smells of fetid urine - I back away from it...

I'm sure there are some racial genotype influences on olfactory reception and perception - cultural, too, no doubt... Including how people of one race "smell" to someone from another race. I'm speaking in broad generalities here.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Regarding fish sauce that OliverB mentioned - I don't find it repulsive. Do many folks here do? Not after it has been incorporated into a dish, but the stuff straight from the bottle. I tend to think of this as somewhat along the lines of the salted fish aversion I mentioned - perhaps another "smell appreciation" that is an acquired "taste", so to speak? Or is it deeper?

What about anchovies? Or ikan bilis? Oh, I almost forgot - BELACAN! I find all of them appetizing in smell and taste - except perhaps too much belacan being toasted all at once when the smell becomes overpowering. (Olfactory overload) Considering that many posters here on eG also adore Thai food - the "more genuine" the better - I suspect that many folks here find these things pleasant?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many years ago, before I moved to where I live now, I lived in a small city in the wild west of China's Hunan Province. I loved the place and especially I loved the food. Hunan food is my all time favourite. Fortunately, there are a couple of excellent Hunan restaurants here in town.

One of my favourite pastimes on a Saturday afternoon in Hunan was to head for a particular street behind the city's central market. I could find it with my eyes closed. Just followed the stink. The short street had tables and stools down the centre (It was traffic free. Well, apart from the odd bicycle and the never ending stream of pedestrians.) At the sides, were several small shacks all selling the same product. I'd get a cold beer. No mean feat in China still, but even more difficult twenty years ago. Then I'd wait for the arrival of a small bowl containing the most disgusting smelling food ever. Small black cubes swimming in chilli sauce.

I’d take the chopsticks supplied, catch hold of one of these black cubes and, trying not to breathe, get it past my nose and into my mouth. Then I’d thoroughly enjoy the creamy, spicy, delicious taste of stinky tofu, Hunan style. Usually I’d order a second bowl. And a second bottle of beer. Third? Fourth?

Stinky tofu (臭豆腐 chòu dòu fǔ) is fermented tofu. it is available all over mainland China and is especially popular in Taiwan, and to a lesser extent in Hong Kong. It is usually sold by street traders or small shacks as described above, rather than in restaurants. There are huge regional variations in its preparation, appearance and cooking methods. But the one constant is the stink. Some cities have actually banned the stuff in certain public places and it is definitely forbidden on Shanghai's subway.

Regular white tofu is fermented for several months in salt with herbs and aromatics, vegetables and, sometimes, meat. The result is a strong smelling but delicious concoction. As with many cheeses, the smell is no indicator of the taste.

The Taiwanese style and Beijing style remain a slightly off-white colour, but the Hunan style turns at least grey and usually black.

Fortunately, there are a few street vendors selling the stuff here, too. These itinerant street vendors fry and flog their stinky tofu around the city centre.

changsha choudoufu.jpg

They fry the cubed tofu then let it drain in these cunningly designed strainers. The fried tofu hovers over the boiling oil, draining while remaining hot as the vendor continues to fry more.

chou doufu2.jpg

Chou doufu.jpg

Ask for a portion and the vendor, skilfully picks up one piece at a time, puncturing it slightly with her chopsticks, then dropping it into a paper bowl and pouring chilli sauce over them. The puncturing of the crisp outer allows the sauce to enter the soft creamy interior. You are then invited to add shopped scallion and coriander leaf (cilantro), more sauce etc by yourself. You are also invited to cough up ¥3 (50 cents USD, 30 pence UK), unless you are greedy and go for the large bowl at ¥5.

chou doufu3.jpg

Then comes the most difficult part. Getting it past your nose and into your mouth. But it's well worth it.

chou doufu4.jpg

Edited by liuzhou (log)
  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for this thread, liuzhou!

I haven't had the pleasures of stinky tofu for...oh...55 years, until we went to China last May. Had some at one of our tour destinations, and I bought some at a vendor. They were ok...not as good as I remembered. Memories play trick but I didn't even need to hold my nose for the first bite. Definitely toned down for the tourists. Disappointing. I always remember my brother going outside of our house and chasing the stinky tofu vendor away. You are right...the smell travels for a long distance and my brother was always waiting just inside the door to chase the guy away!

I would love to try the version you pictured. It's got to have spicy chili sauce. I seem to remember the kind that is slightly sweet but very spicy.

I have grown to love durian, both the fresh in Malaysia and the previously frozen ones sold here. The last 2 we had were especially delicious - ripe! The custardy texture and sweetness felt cool in the mouth.

I have always loved ham ha (fermented shrimp paste) spread and steamed on fatty siu yook / pork belly.. My Scottish hubby, raised on a farm looking after hundreds of chickens said it smells like chicken poop (thus his name for this dish), but he loves it. Salt fish...YES! My kids all grew up eating these fermented ingredients that other Asian kids turn up their noses... :rolleyes:


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks huiray and Dejah.

Here is my shameful durian story.

About ten years ago, a colleague and I travelled to Hainan Island for a short but important business meeting. As we were leaving, our Hainan contact presented us with a durian each.

Somehow we managed to get them checked into the baggage at the airport. I'm not sure you could now. We wrapped them in several layers of plastic bag, but I could still detect the whiff.

After the short 45 minute flight back to the mainland, we went to the baggage reclaim area. There were a couple of uniformed security type people standing around looking mean, but then they always do. It's their job.

We stood with the other passengers, staring hopelessly at the empty conveyor belt for ages, but finally a suitcase or two started popping out of the hole they come from.

Suddenly something else popped out of the hole. An overwhelming stench of durian! People were coughing and spluttering. Tears running down their faces. I'm sure a couple of older women needed artificial respiration for days after.

And there, happily going round in circles, were our two durian, devoid of plastic bags.

What did we do? We grabbed our travel bags and got out of there in a hurry, leaving two beautiful durian circling unclaimed.

Any time anyone mentions durian now, I instantly imagine that they are circling round that conveyor still,


Edited by liuzhou (log)
  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm thinking kimchee, andouillette and Epoisses.

If you really want the kitchen to yourself, just stick a tarte au Maroilles in the oven. Even industrial ventilation is no match for that.

Also, some olives give off a really bad smell. Just try walking past an olive vendor in August.

You might want to try cachaille, a re-fermented Provençal cheese mix flavored with garlic and eau de vie (although I can't stomach that one. The taste won't leave your mouth even after repeated brushing).

There's another breton cheese that's matured in beer, which tastes good but smells dreadful, but I can't remember the name.

Anyone that reads French might want to have a look at Wikipédia France's "fromage fort" section.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Apparently there are durians with much less aroma, which are what you find in stores outside the Far East.

I was in Hongkong, bought one durian. After enjoyed part of it. I put the leftover in a plastic bag, in the freezer. Even with the refrigerator door closed, you can still smell the durian.

dcarch

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Several years ago I bought some ramps on ebay with the intention of trying to get them to grow in my yard. A few days later I got a card from the post office saying I had a package to pick up and I stopped in on the way home from work to do just that. I presented the card and after a brief moment, I saw the recognition in the woman's eyes and knew that I had been the subject of some heated conversation in the back room. She said "Oh, we delivered THAT package!!" I got home and saw that the delivery had amounted to being tossed into the middle of my front lawn. I brought the package inside and quickly realized why it had been so poorly received at the post office.

Every year a few more come up and maybe this spring I will finally harvest some ramps. I have read that children in Appalachia who have eaten too many ramps can be sent home from school because the odor from their skin is disruptive to class.

HC


Edited by HungryChris (log)
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have read that children in Appalachia who have eaten too many ramps can be sent home from school because the odor from their skin is disruptive to class.

Yes, that is correct..it can be an issue.

BTW...Limburger and wild leek (ramp) sandwiches are GREAT!!!!! :smile:


Edited by DiggingDogFarm (log)
  • Like 1

~Martin :)

"Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse, curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!"

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it! 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

.

I'll also nominate the "blue" fishes (Mackerel amongst 'em).

The "blue" fishes only stink when they're not fresh. Alas, because of their high fat content they deteriorate faster than white-fleshed fishes, so unless you catch them yourself or have a good fishmonger within a few hours drive of the dock, don't bother. Of course, the cured, smoked or pickled versions hold up very well, and then I find the aromas attractive.

  • Like 1

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The "blue" fishes only stink when they're not fresh. Alas, because of their high fat content they deteriorate faster than white-fleshed fishes, so unless you catch them yourself or have a good fishmonger within a few hours drive of the dock, don't bother.

Totally agree. I bought some mackerel today. Smelt of the ocean.

But here is a ripe stinker.

Shrimp juice sauce.jpg

Basically it is the same as fish sauce, but made from fermented shrimp. In it's raw state, it smells like fish sauce crossed with that notorious shrimp paste, but when cooked into a dish does the same as fish sauce or anchovies. Umami heaven.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

.

I'll also nominate the "blue" fishes (Mackerel amongst 'em).

The "blue" fishes only stink when they're not fresh. Alas, because of their high fat content they deteriorate faster than white-fleshed fishes, so unless you catch them yourself or have a good fishmonger within a few hours drive of the dock, don't bother. Of course, the cured, smoked or pickled versions hold up very well, and then I find the aromas attractive.

To me, the "blue" fishes stink just as bad when they come out of the water as they do from the monger (where they're always impeccably fresh) - it's one of my own personal olfactory peccadilloes. So, no mackerel for me.

Another on the stinky side are Maracuyá, which most of the rest of the world just calls "passionfruit" - their aroma, as anyone who's ever been trapped in a car with a sack of them will tell you, is strong and penetrating even if they're not opened for slurping. I happen to like this smell, but many others do not. Very ripe Mangoes fall into a similar category, as do Carambola (star fruits).


Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know folks who use bluefish for fertilizer...what a shame...I absolutely love bluefish.

  • Like 1

~Martin :)

"Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse, curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!"

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it! 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...