If you are looking to expand your tofu repertoire beyond the usual soft to firm varieties and baked or pressed beancurd, “bamboo beancurd” (also called “beancurd sticks” or fuzhu in Mandarin) is a terrific place to start. It is made by skimming the creamy film off a vat of heated soymilk, crumpling/rolling the “sheet” up, then hanging the rolls over a pole to dry. The result looks vaguely like a bamboo shoot, hence its poetic name.
Packaged, it looks like this:
This product’s most wonderful property is that the many tiny openings in the tubes suck up flavorful sauces and hold them in. As a result, it is used in many soups and vegetarian dishes, where in the hands of the great Buddhist monk-chefs it can become as flavorful as meat and also resemble meat’s texture.
The sticks will last forever (?) when stored airtight in a cool, dry place. To use, rehydrate in warm water until pliable, approximately 1 h. The places where the sticks are bent to hang may never properly rehydrate – just cut those away. Try this in Braised Celery with Bamboo Beancurd.