Where Did Tofu Come From?

Tofu is an important part of the fare at I Love Sushi’s Seattle restaurant. You’ll find it in the inari, the agedashi, the tofu rolls, and more. It’s no mystery that tofu is a big aspect of Asian culinary traditions, but have you ever stopped to wonder about the origin of this humble dish?

It is unfortunately impossible to know exactly when or how tofu first came to be. Records state that it was the invention of a Chinese prince named Liu An around 164 BC. However, it was a common practice at this time to credit any significant innovations to important political figures. Whatever its origins may have been, it is clear that the tofu production methods practiced today were standardized as early on as the second century, BC.

Tofu probably spread from China into Japan along with Buddhist philosophy. The principles of Buddhism called for a vegetarian diet, making it necessary to provide followers with a meat-free protein. In this way, tofu was able to gain a strong foothold in Japan, Korea, and other Asian countries, where it has been a significant part of their culinary traditions to this day.