Living in these narrow alleys are Sichuanese chefs.
They can turn simple soybeans into a multitude of food.
Like these brown slabs of dried tofu.
Or soft tofu.
Or douhua—tofu pudding.
Tofu-making has over 2,000 years of history in China.
The process is simple: soy milk coagulates to form tofu curds.
But the result can be turned into many varieties.
Douhua with dipping sauce.
Douhua pudding with red dates.
(Almost) everybody in Sichuan knows how to make douhua.
But in the hands of master chefs, they can do a lot more.
This is 鸡豆花—chicken douhua, a dish once served at state dinners.
This simple-looking dish involves many, many steps.
Boneless chicken breast is chosen. Extra fat is removed, then it’s diced and tenderised.
Tendons are removed.
Chicken breast is tenderised repeatedly until it turns into paste.
The juice of ginger and spring onion is added to the paste.
Then add egg white, starch, salt, and water.
Simmer in a stock.
This plain-looking stock is made from hen, pork ribs, ham, dried scallops, chicken breast, and pork tenderloin.
The tenderised chicken breast, along with douhua, has absorbed all the flavours of the soup stock.
The resultant dish looks deceptively simple. Just a lump of tofu.
But it has the soft consistency of tofu, yet tastes savoury like chicken.
It includes steamed tofu stuffed with minced pork and egg, shaped like a rooster and a phoenix.
Fried tofu stuffed with pork.
Tofu soup with sour vegetables.
Tofu ice cream.
Some have made the claim that there are a total of 108 tofu dishes.
Mapo tofu might not be the oldest tofu dish, but it probably is one of the most famous.
In contrast to the popularity of mapo tofu, stinky tofu has a much harder time gaining acceptance.
From the reaction of this cat, you know you’ve gotten the authentic “stinky tofu”.