Don’t Worry, Dou Hua

It is sometimes hard to pin down traditional Chinese desserts. I always found that Chinese people are more into their savoury items as opposed to their sweet treats, but there are some traditional desserts that are eaten all over the country, and none more so than dou hua, which is made with very soft tofu. Dou hua is also eaten a lot in Taiwan.

douhua4

In northern China, dou hua is often eaten with soy sauce, thus resulting in a more savoury flavour. Northern Chinese people often refer to dou hua as “doufunao” (literally “tofu brains”). Local Beijing people usually eat it for breakfast together with baozi or youtiao, as well as for dessert. I have only ever known dou hua to be eaten for dessert, however, and after some succulent roast meats such as squab or peking duck, the dou hua provides a nice finale to the set meal.

douhua3

Dou hua in Sichuan is often made without any sugar at all, then served by carrying pole or bicycle vendors with a number of condiments such as chili oil, soy sauce, Sichuan pepper, scallions, and nuts, and is sometimes eaten along with white rice as well. As you would expect from Sichuan cuisine, the dou hua is more fiery than we can find in other areas of China! I can remember visiting a tea house in Chengdu, Sichuan, and many old men there were eating bowls of dou hua (and smoking tobacco) while enjoying their tea in the afternoon shade.

Dou Hua
Dou Hua

In Cantonese cuisine, dou hua is extremely popular and is served with sweet ginger or clear syrup, and sometimes as a mixture with black bean paste and coconut milk. Traditionally, it is sold in wooden bucket as part of dim sum. As you would expect, it has been popularised in Hong Kong too, where dou hua is one of the most common desserts, along with mango pomelo sago and the ever-popular egg waffles. Back on mainland China, I noticed that the people of Guangzhou often eat their dou hua as a snack at any time during the day, and at various places in the city it was literally shoved in my face to see if I wanted any!

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