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Identifying Commercial Chinese Soy milk and Tofu Products

Because the Chinese have been cooking with soy for hundreds of years, there is a wide variety of soy and tofu products available. The Chinese names are different from the Japanese names for the same products and also change from region to region in China. You can be further confused by variations in transliterating to English spellings (dofu, tofu, doufu all the same). However, here is a pretty complete list of products you might read about or run into.

Donai “dojiang” - Soy milk: Sold plain or flavored and sweetened, refrigerated in 1/2-gallon jugs or in aseptic packages; drunk cold or warm
Dofu hua "dohua" OR “dofu nao” - Tender tofu blossom: Sold refrigerated in tubs, sometimes with a separate container of caramel or ginger syrup; or served hot, ladled fresh into a bowl or container in street stands or restaurants. In cafes and dim sum houses, it is offered unsweetened as soup or sweetened with syrup as a dessert (hot or cold).
Nun dofu - Silken tofu: Available in aseptic boxes or in sealed, refrigerated, rectangular tubs. This is usually made with galactone rather than traditional coagulants; it is used in soups and cold-tossed, dressed and with crunchy toppings. In the US, it is popular blended into drinks and smoothies or as a scrambled egg substitute.
Ruan dofu - Soft tofu: Sold in sealed, refrigerated tubs or in bulk; most often used in stir-frys, soups and stews.
Ying dofu - Firm tofu: Most widely available, sold in sealed, refrigerated tubs, or water-packed in bulk; used in stir-frys, deep-fried and in soups. In the US, popular for grilling and stewing.
Dofu gan - Pressed tofu: In vacuum-packs, or loose, in bulk; used in stews, salads and stir-fries. Can be made from firm tofu at home by pressing under weight.
Wuxiang dofu gan - Five-spice pressed tofu: Same as pressed tofu, but seasoned with 5-spice powder and dark brown in color.
Bayie “qianchang” - Sheet tofu: Pressed to canvas-thin sheets (the name means "a hundred leaves" or "a thousand sheets").
Bayie jie - Knotted bayie: Same as sheet tofu but cut in strips and knotted. Soaked and cooked, can be used as a noodle substitute.
Gansi - Tofu threads: Cut into noodle-fine threads, not used as a substitute for noodles but as a dish for stir-frys, poaching, in salads and stews; also made in five-spice flavor.
Fuyie “dofu pi” - Tofu film, skin: The dried skin formed by heating soy milk, multi-layered like phyllo to create texture and tenderness; available dried or frozen. Called “Yuba” in Japan. Used in dim sum and in mock-meat Buddhist preparations, often as a skin or wrapper that is first fried then steamed.
Furu “dofu ru” - Fermented tofu: Sold by street vendors and in specialty restuarants. Available canned in 1-inch squares in jars, the blue cheese equivalent of dairy milk, with many regional variations, some in a chile brine. Served with jook and as a seasoning in various dishes.
Suji “suyia” - Vegetarian chicken, duck: Usually canned or frozen. Prepared food made of layers of tofu film; ready to eat
Cho dofu - Stinky tofu: Aged, cured tofu that is usually served deep-fried with sauce. Check out its own page. Cho dofu fa is double fermented and truly startling.
Yiu dofu - Tofu puff: Tofu fried into a puff; usually sold already fried and used in soups, stuffed and braised, or sliced and stir-fried.
Za dofu - Fried tofu: Sold packaged, cut into triangles or squares; ready for braising, stuffing and stir-frying or just eaten plain topped with condiments.