Some time ago (really some time ago), I bought a pack of green tea soba noodles from a nearby Asian supermarket. After buying them, I put them in the pantry and did...nothing.
This week I took them out, inspired by a desire for tofu and a post-run craving for noodles. I marinated the tofu in a mix of garam masala, soy sauce, lemon juice and maple syrup, added some vegetables, and tossed it all through the beautifully green noodle strands.
Except, actually, I didn't do it quite that easily because 2 minutes into the noodles' 6 minute cooking time, we had a power cut.
These days, thanks to the magic of modern fuse boxes and their easy 'flip' fix mechanism, a power cut is not particularly dramatic. If we still used old-fashioned fuses, I don't think I would be qualified to live on my own.
As our gas connection did not go out, flames continued to drive my simmering noodles and stir frying tofu even as I could no longer see the pans with any clarity. This might sound like a good thing, but it turns out that being in a dark kitchen with invisible pans over heat isn't an entirely comfortable place to be. This is especially true when you sense that your noodles may be approaching boiling point.
|Green tea soba noodles|
From his convenient location near the upstairs fuse box, Mr Bite attempted to flick the relevant fuse and restore light and power. Unfortunately, the relevant fuse did not want to be flicked and so I was told to turn off whatever I'd been using so he could try again. After turning the lights off at the wall, and then all other kitchen appliances even though I hadn't been using them, we repeated this exercise a few times without success.
At this point, Mr B decided that he was quite happy reading by torchlight. He also decided that, as power was still going to the TV and associated recording device (he was worried about losing Doctor Who), he would wait a while before investigating the problem.
For the record, I don't respond well when someone tells me they're going to read by torchlight while I'm in a dark kitchen with simmering pans on an invisible stove. Mr B decided, after all, that it would be worth investigating a little sooner. Straight away, in fact.
We (he) found and turned off the wall-based switches for the dishwasher, washing machine, dryer, fridge/freezer, and microwave. We stood on chairs to examine the smoke alarms. We ultimately worked out we could actually turn the lights on (separate fuse to the problem! ta da!) but still couldn't get the problem fuse to revert to active. That fuse / circuit covered the dishwasher, fridge/freezer and microwave, so it was rather important.
Then someone (the person who saved the night, also known as not me) thought of the oven. I remembered a power switch at the back of the cupboard adjoining our oven, we found it, we turned it off, and - power was restored. We turned it on again ('just to check', not my idea), and - power was cut. Problem solved.
Happy to have functioning lights and a powered fridge, I returned to dinner and my now soggy noodles. Mr Bite returned to his reading and normality seemed to have been restored.
However, I thought it was a bit odd that the oven would trip the mains power when it wasn't even on. And then we tried turning the oven on, just to confirm the plug had been for that, and - the oven turned on.
It turns out that the cupboard-based power switch, the source of the problem, actually drives the ignition function for our gas stove top, which I was using when the power cut. It also turns out that our 10+ year old stove top is capable of cutting the power when a malfunction is detected (not sure quite what that malfunction was), but not of cutting the gas flame that could, one presumes, cause actual damage to anyone near by if a malfunction was happening.
At that point, I banned any further experimentation, declared that I would light the gas manually for the next week, and focused on finishing dinner preparations before the noodles lost their shape altogether. We're still using our gas stove top manually and in the interests of safety and power, I'm not in a rush to change that!
This dish survived the dinner challenges, and far surpassed my modest expectations. The garam masala (a mix of pepper, cloves, cinnamon, cumin and cardamom) was beautiful with the tofu. The noodles were a tad over-cooked, but that wasn't their fault and I loved their green colour.
In all - a good end to a slightly bumpy cooking experience, and I'm delighted we do still have a working oven.
Asian spiced tofu with green tea soba noodles
Serves 3 (or 4 not-very-hungry people)
350g block tofu, pressed and cut into large pieces
2 tsp garam masala spice
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp maple syrup
1 large bunch (4-6 small bunches) pak choy, bok choi or other Asian vegetables, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
200g pack green tea soba noodles, or regular soba noodles
Place the pressed and chopped tofu in a large shallow dish. Combine the garam masala, soy sauce, lemon juice and maple syrup, then pour over the tofu and allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes.
When the tofu is ready, heat a non-stick pan over high heat and add the tofu pieces, drizzling with extra marinade. Reserve any spare marinade. Stir fry the tofu for several minutes on each side, until golden.
Reduce the heat to low and add the vegetables to the tofu. Stir fry for a further 5-10 minutes over low heat.
Meanwhile, add the noodles to a saucepan of boiling water and simmer, covered, for 6 minutes.
Combine, drizzle with any remaining marinade, and serve.
I am sending these to Healthy Vegan Friday #39.
What are you like when things break / don't work / malfunction around the home?
And have you enjoyed coloured / flavoured noodles? These didn't taste of green tea, but did taste slightly different to normal noodles.