Though there is a lack of a clear record, the history of Chinese "smelly foods" can be at least dated back to the Sui Dynasty (581-618), when people made foul fish dishes on purpose. After a long period of evolution, they now come in a number of different varieties, but are primarily made of fish, bean products and vegetables.
Although described as "stinky", smelly wax gourds have refreshing and crisp flavors that leave a lingering fragrance on the taste buds. They are a fixture on the dining tables of the Ningbo people in East China’s Zhejiang province.
A close relative of "smelly tofu", this renowned Shaoxing signature snack from Zhejiang province is made of thick sheets of bean curd (made of boiled soybean milk) that has gained the nickname of Qianzhang, or "thousand layers".
Formerly the most common food among locals in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, moldy amaranth stalks were “active” in nearly every meal alongside other pickles. They were also favored by local monks and gained the nickname “maigre sea eel” for their deliciousness.
Perhaps the most well-known member of the Chinese "smelly food" family, strong-smelling preserved tofu has several distinguished branches which sparkle in different regional cuisines.
An indispensable snack in Beijing culinary culture, dou zhi, or fermented bean juice, is not only distinguished for its special odor, but also for its long and glorious history. It is believed that this drink emerged during the Liao and Jin dynasties (916-1234).
Hui cuisine, one of the outstanding variants best known for its mellow tastes and original flavors, includes something of a “rebel” dish that is distinctive for its odor – stinky mandarin fish.
A sudden hit on the snack market in recent years, river snails rice noodles from Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region are winning more and more advocates, even while being cursed for their "destructive" flavors.