Tucked in the hills of one of Taiwan’s first organic farming villages, Luoshan Organic Tofu Farm gives visitors the chance to try making tofu from scratch. But there’s a secret ingredient: volcanic mud water.
Contrary to how it might sound, volcanic mud pits are nothing like their magma-spewing counterparts. The pits form as gases such as methane and carbon dioxide push hot water and minerals out of the ground. The water that comes out is a natural source of magnesium chloride, which helps coagulate soy milk into tofu. These mud pools are scattered all around Luoshan, including one available for public viewing. There’s a trail to it from Luoshan Organic Tofu Farm, and it’s about a 10-minute walk.
The family that owns Luoshan Organic Tofu Farm guides visitors through the process from soybean to volcanic mud tofu: grinding the soybean into milk, cooking it, coagulating it, and pressing it. Proprietor Lin Yih-Cheng converted the space from a bed and breakfast into a workshop in the early 1990s. While there are many tofu-adjacent businesses in the area, Lin’s is the most popular, so reservations are a must. The class is conducted in a cool and shaded outdoor annex of his home, surrounded by trees.
After decades of leading classes, Lin leads many workshops and provides animated and detailed explanations on the coagulation process and stories about the surrounding village and town. There’s also a small plot behind the workshop where the family grows their own Taiwanese soybeans.
The entire class takes about an hour, and attendees are free to eat what they make. The finished tofu is dressed with a kiss of wasabi and some sweet soy paste, and served with a side of warm, fresh soy milk. The family also has a small gift shop featuring homemade hot sauce, tofu pudding, and fermented tofu curds. Everything but volcanic mud tofu, unfortunately. It doesn’t travel well, so get your fill before you go.
Know Before You Go
Take the train to Fuli township and grab a taxi. It’s about a 20-minute-ride to the workshop and all the local cab drivers know where it is. The minimum group size for the class is four. Visit their Facebook page for contact information or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The workshop is conducted entirely in Chinese, so a translator might be necessary. Reservations are required.