A Short History of Tofu

There are many great ways to enjoy tofu at Arirang’s Lynnwood Korean BBQ restaurant. Try some doo-boo kimchi (kimchi with tofu), a soon doo boo jji ge (tofu kimchi stew), or one of our doenjang dishes (soybean paste soup). It’s a common sight in many Asian-style restaurants, but did you ever wonder where tofu came from, and how it came to be such a big part of many culinary traditions?

Nobody knows for sure who invented tofu. Chinese historical records credit it to a prince by the name of Liu An at some point around 164 BC. Unfortunately, it was customary during this period to attribute important inventions to important political figures, so there’s no way to know for sure who the true inventor was.

Tofu apparently spread from China to the rest of Asia along with the propagation of Buddhist philosophy. The Buddhists wanted to make it easier for followers to embrace a vegetarian diet, so they popularized tofu as a source of protein. In this way it made its way to Korea, where it has remained a large part of traditional dining to this day.