America Doesn’t Know Tofu

George Stiffman in Asterisk:

Guiyang didn’t have many restaurants, per se. The metropolis was more of a city-wide night market. Even in the pre-COVID days, streets like Qingyun Road were only half-filled with cars, to leave room for tents and tables that stretched to the horizon, and for smoke and steam that rose into the clouds. Eateries didn’t burden you with 14-page menus, common at Shanghainese or Northeastern restaurants. No — a làoguō 烙锅 shop sold laoguo (think Korean BBQ with more vegetables, cooked over a clay pot dome). A sīwáwa 丝娃娃 shop sold siwawa (shreds of 20-plus varieties of fresh and pickled vegetables that you roll into a thin, rice cake-like taco). And tofu stands sold tofu. But probably not the tofu you’re thinking of.

Pale slabs of bean curd shivered over a sputtering steel grill box. As their tops bathed in the cool summer air, their bottoms tensed and colored. When Auntie flipped over a piece, the tofu’s underside was purplish like a black eye, its thick skin waxy and crackly like a fried egg bottom. And then it started expanding.

More here.