Tofu Pudding: From Douhua To Taho

Tofu Pudding: From Douhua To Taho

Tofu pudding, whether sweet or savory, is popular in many different Asian countries. Each region has their own spin on the dish, with different names and toppings. Many varieties are gluten free. Tofu pudding is quite healthy because it’s made from whole soybeans, so it has a good amount of calcium, protein, and iron.

Below, we’ll identify which types of tofu pudding are gluten free. You’ll also find the different types of tofu pudding sorted by country. You can explore the regional differences through recipes and a description of each style of pudding. The base is really similar, so the biggest differences are the toppings and serving style.

tofu pudding

Tofu puddings from SCMP

Almost every sweet variety is naturally gluten free, and most are dairy free. The only possible toppings we’ve found that contain gluten in the sweet varieties are youtiao (fried dough) and barley. Both can easily be left off.

Savory versions of tofu pudding are NOT gluten free. They’re often topped with soy sauce, Chiangking vinegar, oyster sauce, and youtiao (fried dough), all of which aren’t gluten free. Fried shallots or garlic might also be used as a topping, and those sometimes contain gluten, so the savory versions are best made at home if you’re gluten free.

History of Douhua

The legend goes that Liu An, a Chinese prince during the Han dynasty, was attempting to create an elixir for eternal life when he accidentally knocked some gypsum powder or sea water into a bucket of soy milk. The mixture curdled into a silken soy pudding and tofu was born. Even though tofu didn’t make anyone immortal, it became a popular food in China because of its melt in the mouth texture and light but filling nature.

Unlike tofu, douhua is not curdled, so it’s tender and silky. The texture of the pudding will vary depending on the type of coagulant used. Gypsum used to mainly be used as the coagulant, but nowadays chefs will often use glucano delta lactone instead, which provides a silkier texture. Some recipes use gelatin, corn starch, or agar agar for a more reliable set.

tofu pudding

Tau foo fa from Asian Inspirations


Douhua (豆花) is the name used in Taiwan, Sichuan, Yunnan, Hunan, Guizhou, Fujian, and Jiangxi. In northern China, douhua only refers to the sweet varieties of tofu pudding. Salty versions of douhua in Fujian often include cilantro and dried shrimp. In Taiwan, sweet douhua includes beans, peanuts, fruit, and soy milk.

  • Douhua from Omnivore’s Cookbook

Doufuhua (豆腐花) is the name used in Macau, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, southern China. In Macau and Hong Kong, a brown sugar syrup scented with osmanthus and ginger is used to top the doufuhua. SW Chinese doufuhua is topped with chili oil.

Doufunao (豆腐脑) is the name used in Henan, Shanghai, Hubei, North China, Anhui, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang. Doufunao translates to tofu brains. Tofu brains in Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Shanghai, and Henan refers to a salty snack stew that can include meat. In Hubei, it refers to a sweet version made with white cane sugar.

Laodoufu (老豆腐) is the name used in Tianjin. Laodoufu translates to old tofu. It’s a savory tofu pudding that’s often served as a part of breakfast.

Doufusheng (豆腐生) is the name used in Taizhou and Zhejiang. Salty doufusheng is topped with zha cai (pickled mustard stem), spring onion, and seaweed. Sweet doufusheng includes syrup with osmanthus scent.


Tahô, which is of Hokkien origin (豆腐). Taho is a common street food in the Philippines. It’s served in a clear cup or mug and mixed with sago and carmelized sugar syrup.


Tàu hủ nước đường, tàu hủ hoa, tào phớ, đậu hủ, tàu hủ. Tofu pudding in Vietnam is always sweet. In northern Vietnam, the topping of choice is a clear sugar syrup scented with jasmine flower. Grass jelly is often included as well. The pudding is served cold or hot, depending on the season and temperature. In central and southern Vietnam, a spicy ginger syrup is used. Southern Vietnamese tofu pudding can include coconut water and lychee.

tofu pudding

Tao pho from Delightful Plate


Taohuai (เต้าฮวย) is the Chinese Hokkien name. Taohuai nom sot (เต้าฮวยนมสด, เต้าฮวยฟรุตสลัด) is served with fruit salad. It’s made with dairy milk and gelatin. Taohuai nam khing (เต้าฮวยน้ำขิง) is served hot with ginger syrup.

tofu pudding

Taohuai nom sot from Sentangsedtee


Kembang tahu, tahwa. Kembang tahu, meaning flower tofu, is generally served warm with a pandan scented sweet ginger sauce.

tofu pudding

Kembang tahu from Cooking with Mama Miyuki

Malaysia and Singapore

Tau hua, tau huay in Hokkien, or tau fu fa in Cantonese, or doufu hua in Mandarin. The Cantonese variation is more common in Malaysia. It’s served with a palm or rock sugar sauce infused with ginger and pandan.

tofu pudding

Doufu hua from Rasa Malaysia

* Title image courtesy of When in Manila.

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