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This Douhua was purchased from Qingdao, which represents the Northern Chinese cuisine.
Alternative namesDoufuhua, tofu pudding, soybean pudding
Place of originChina
Region or stateEast Asia and Southeast Asia
Main ingredientsTofu
tofu pudding
Literal meaningbean curd flower
Alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese豆腐腦
Simplified Chinese豆腐脑
Soy curd with sugar syrup sold in Kwai Chung, Hong Kong.

Douhua, or beancurd, (Chinese: 豆花; pinyin: dòuhuā) is the short form of doufuhua (Chinese: 豆腐花; pinyin: dòufuhuā). It is a Chinese snack made with very tender tofu. It is also referred to as tofu pudding,[1] soybean pudding,[2] or tofu brains.[3]


Tofu is thought to have originated in ancient China during the Han Dynasty. Liu An, the grandson of Emperor Gaozu of Han, was ambitious and wanted to invent something to make people live forever. Even though he failed to make the magic pill, he used soybean and bittern to finally get niveous and tender tofu, which was surprisingly tasty. People named it "tofu brains" because of its softness. Tofu brains then became a popular snack during Han Dynasty.[4] In the next 2000 years, it gradually spread throughout China. [5]


During the War of Resistance, Sichuan became the political, economical, and military center of China. The boss of a famous Douhua restaurant, Liu Xilu, learnt the methods of making beancurd from others and innovated on them until he finally came up with his own "secret recipe", which greatly improved its taste.[6]

Different names[edit]

Douhua Taiwan, Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Hunan, Jiangxi, Fujian In Fujian, brown sugar is added to sweet Douhua while salted Douhua is put on dried radish, fried garlic, cilantro or celery, dried shrimps, and various brines, etc. In Taiwan, beans such as mungs, red beans, and peeled peanuts are usually added, as well as soy milk, fruit, or taro balls. In the region where Douhua is called tofu brains, Douhua only refers to Douhua desserts in Taiwan.
Tofu hua Southern China, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore In Hong Kong and Macau, brown sugar, sweet-scented osmanthus syrup, and ginger juice are usually added to Douhua. Chili oil or powder is normally added to it in southwest China.
Tofu Brains North China, Hubei, Anhui, Jiangsu, Henan, Shanghai, Zhejiang Northern tofu brains are often seasoned with "salted stew", and Henan people usually eat it with local snacks. Tofu brains in Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Shanghai are generally salty tofu brains like the northern ones. People in Hubei and Anhui also call it as tofu brain, but tofu brain in Hubei is generally added with white sugar, which is the sweet version.
Tofu Sheng Taizhou, Zhejiang Sweet Douhua there is topped with syrup and some sweet-scented osmanthus; the salty one is topped with mustard tuber, seaweed, spring onion, etc.
Silk Tofu Hubei In Hubei, people call spicy Douhua "silk tofu."

Taste & Cuisine[edit]

Northern Chinese cuisine[edit]

In Northern China, Douhua is often eaten with soy sauce, thus resulting in a savory flavor. Northern Chinese often refer to Douhua as tofu brains. Each region may differ in seasonings. Inland cities add chopped meat, pickles, and mushrooms, while coastal cities add kelps and small shrimps. [7] Tofu brains can be found at breakfast stands along the streets in the morning, usually with eggs or youtiao (fried dough sticks). Other times it is hard to find outside of a restaurant.[8]

Sichuan cuisine[edit]

Douhua in Sichuan highly stresses the flavor of spicy, which differs from traditional favors of soy or sweet. It is served by carrying pole or bicycle vendors with several condiments such as chili oil, soy sauce, scallions, and nuts. A famous Sichuan dish, spicy tofu fish uses Douhua as an essential ingredient.[9]

Sweet douhua sold in dessert shop.

Southern Chinese cuisine[edit]

In Southern China, Douhua is often eaten with sweet flavoring. Southern China often refers to Douhua as tofu pudding. It is served with sweet ginger or clear syrup. In summer, people eat cold Douhua to relieve themselves of the heat. In winter, people add hot sweet water and beans into Douhua to dispel cold. Hong Kong people add sesame paste into Douhua. Taiwanese and Guangdong Douhua are symbolic of Southern Chinese cuisine.[10]

Southeast Asian cuisine[edit]

Filipino cuisine[edit]

Taho, the Philippine version of douhua, served in a small plastic cup.

In the Philippines, fresh silken tofu served in sweet brown syrup is known as taho and sold by hawkers in the mornings, usually door-to-door and in public plazas, or outside churches. In some regional variations, taho is often served with sugarcane syrup or strawberry syrup.

Indonesian cuisine[edit]

Tahwa, Indonesian version of douhua, with ginger syrup and peanut

In Indonesia, it is known as Kembang tahu or in Java as Tahwa derived from the Chinese Hokkien name Tau Hwe, or Wedang Tahu (Wedang means hot water with ginger, Tahu means tofu) and is usually sold by hawkers. It is served warm or cold with palm sugar syrup that has been flavored with pandan leaves and ginger.

Malaysian and Singaporean cuisine[edit]

Douhua in sugar syrup sold in West Coast, Singapore

In Malaysia and Singapore, it is more commonly known by its names tau hua or tau huay in Hokkien, or by the Cantonese name (tau fu fa), with the Cantonese variation being more common in Malaysia. In Penang, the common term is tau hua, due to Hokkien being its dominant local Chinese language.

It is usually served either with a clear sweet syrup alone, with ginkgo seeds suspended in the syrup, or in a sugar syrup infused with pandan. Alternatively, it can also be served with palm syrup (Gula Melaka).

Thai cuisine[edit]

In Thailand, it is known by its Chinese Hokkien name taohuai (เต้าฮวย). It is usually served cold with milk and fruit salad, which is known as taohuai nom sot (เต้าฮวยนมสด, literally "douhua in fresh milk") or taohuai fruit salad (เต้าฮวยฟรุตสลัด), or served hot with ginger syrup, which is known as taohuai nam khing (เต้าฮวยน้ำขิง).

Vietnamese cuisine[edit]

In Vietnam, it is known as tàu hủ nước đường, tàu hủ hoa or tào phớ, đậu hủ, tàu hủ. It varies in three regions in Vietnam:

  • Northern region — served with jasmine infused sugary water. It is enjoyed as warm in winter and cold with ice in summer.
  • Central region — cooked with spicy ginger. Sugar is added. Douhua pieces are usually unshaped because of their softness.
  • Southern region — served warm with lychee and coconut water. Ginger is optional. Douhua pieces are firmer than those in the North and the Central.

Nutritional Value & Health Benefits[edit]

Douhua is rich in nutrients, contains iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and other trace elements necessary for the human body. It also contains sugar, vegetable oil, and high-quality protein. The digestion and absorption rate of tofu is more than 95%.

It is suitable for people who have bad breath, intense thirst, stomachache to eat. In addition to its function of increasing nutrition and helping digestion, tofu is also beneficial to the growth and development of teeth and bones. It can increase iron element in people's blood in the hematopoietic function; tofu does not contain cholesterol, which is very beneficial to people with hypertension, high blood lipids, hypercholesterolemia, arteriosclerosis, and coronary artery disease. It is a valuable food supplement for children and the elders.[11]

Tofu is rich in phytoestrogens as well, which has an effect on preventing and inhibiting osteoporosis, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and blood cancer. The sterols and stigmasterol in tofu are both effective ingredients for suppressing cancer.[12]


The dessert is also sold in North American Asian supermarkets in plastic containers.


Like all tofu, douhua must have a coagulant, often gluconolactone for smoothness as compared with other coagulants.

In popular culture[edit]

Tofu pudding was featured on the Netflix TV series, Street Food, in the Chiayi, Taiwan episode.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Tofu Pudding (Douhua)". China Sichuan Food. Archived from the original on 19 June 2020. Retrieved 28 September 2020.
  2. ^ "SOYBEAN PUDDING WITH GINGER SYRUP (DOUHUA)". Cookmorphosis. Archived from the original on 11 November 2019. Retrieved 28 September 2020.
  3. ^ "(豆腐脑 dòufu nǎo)". Into the Middle Kingdom. Archived from the original on 11 October 2015. Retrieved 28 September 2020.
  4. ^ "豆花的饮食文化:历史由来". Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  5. ^ "豆腐脑的来历". 29 September 2015.
  6. ^ "豆腐脑的来历 - 快资讯". Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  7. ^ "豆腐脑_360百科". Retrieved 2020-12-09.
  8. ^ "豆腐脑市场价格多少钱一碗 单卖豆腐脑生意怎么样 - 致富热". Retrieved 2020-12-09.
  9. ^ "豆腐脑_360百科". Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  10. ^ "豆腐脑_360百科". Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  11. ^ "Tofu: Health benefits, uses, and possible risks". 2017-09-27. Retrieved 2021-07-01.
  12. ^ Zhang, qinqin (30 March 2015). "早晨喝豆腐脑的营养更高".
  13. ^ Joshua Samuel Brown (22 May 2019). "Taiwan Culture and Cuisine Shine on New Netflix Series "Street Food"". CommonWealth Magazine. Commonwealth Magazin Group. Archived from the original on 20 December 2019. Retrieved 28 September 2020.