A few months ago I listened to Tyler Cowen's conversation with Fuchsia Dunlop on his podcast, Conversations with Tyler. The conversation takes place over dinner and includes one of my favorite economics/food bloggers, Megan McArdle as well as Ezra Klein and several other interesting people.
Well worth a listen. It makes me realize how often I'm just not paying attention to my food.
The podcast led me to purchase Dunlop's book Every Grain of Rice, subtitled Simple Chinese Home Cooking, also recommended. I don't usually read cookbooks, but this one has interesting information about Chinese food, its history--and its ingredients.
Here I discovered fermented bean curd. It comes in at least two varieties: red and white. Her main recipe is for spinach, but I went online and found one for cauliflower.
I popped down down to H-Mart in Central Square and grabbed some Laoganma brand (people seem to love The Godmother, and the somewhat mournful lady on the logo was allegedly a real person).
I bought a lot of other stuff too. It's a great market, though the one out in Burlington is way bigger, almost intimidatingly so.
I think I prefer the red to the white, but both are good. Salty and full of umami, the cubes are kind of cheese-like, and melt into the vegetables, giving them a distinct tang. I've never even been a huge fan of cauliflower, but the simple dish above is now in regular rotation, because it's so damn fast, easy to make, and delicious.
Anyway, its now a staple here. Give it a try.