豆腐よう: Tofuyo (toufuyou).
This is a fermented specialty food of the Ryukyu kingdom, enjoyed only by emperor’s family and few privileged nobles during the Ryukyu kingdom era.
It is intense and delicate, all at the same time. Creamy, and a bit pungent, sort of like a fancy European cheese, this is not to be missed while in Okinawa! Tofuyo is dried shima-doufu, marinated and fermented in red kouji and awamori (Okinawa liquor).
Perhaps to a westerner, it does not sound appetizing, but I promise it is! When I first heard about it, I actually pictured something closer to “stinky tofu” of Taiwan, and felt a little timid about trying it, but it is much different! The smell is quite pleasant, a little bit alcoholic, and the texture really is reminiscent of a creamy cheese. The taste can be a bit intense, but it is not overwhelming.
These days tofuyo can be purchased in just about any grocery store in Okinawa. Recently I visited one of the fancier producers in Naha, Tatsu-no-kura 龍の蔵. I was able to sample a bit of everything… and it was amazing. A delicacy indeed, though a bit expensive… this is a special occasion food.
It has come to my attention that Tatsu-no-kura has a store and awamori/fermentation limestone cave up North near Kin kannon-ji (temple). There are 2 parts of the cave system, one for the temple (free) and one for the shop (entrance fee), so don’t get then confused! Go to the store in Kin to pay and join a tour… it is fun!
Naha address for Tatsu-no-kura 龍の蔵: 〒900-0014 Okinawa-ken, Naha-shi, Matsuo, 1 Chome 1-9-47
address for Kin Limestone Cave 金武鍾乳洞: https://goo.gl/maps/ctmrb2YtDgu
Kin address for Tatsu-no-kura (to visit cave): https://goo.gl/maps/pnayzp3ZEZR2