Thursday, April 18, 2013

Asian spiced tofu with green tea soba noodles - and Mr Bite saves the night

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.


  1. a gas flame in a dark kitchen with saucepans of boiling water sounds very scary indeed. Do you have a supply of candles and matches in the house? We have had one or two nights when we have got ours out and I have been grateful for them - not recently and I wouldn't be surprised to find that sylvia has done away with our candle supply even if the matches are not in reach. It is also a great excuse to use candle holders if you have those too. Now I want a candle lit dinner!

    Candles aside, it sounds very stressful - I am much better at candles than fuses and wish at least one of us had any inkling of them. Am glad you got to eat your soba noodles and that they were good (all the better for almost having them snatched from you I suspect) and that your oven is working

    1. Funnily enough, I have candles and matches near the kitchen just for times like these, but when it came to it, it seemed to hard to light them and we just used our two 'emergency torches'! I think if we'd not got the power back on I'd have moved to candlelight, and agree that the notion is a lovely one. Perhaps I like it more when I don't require it!

      I'm definitely glad the oven is working. The thought of buying a new one was making my head spin for the brief period I thought it would be necessary (not sure I could live without one for long either).

  2. wow- sounds like you really put in an effort to make this meal! these noodles sound fun!

    1. Definitely more effort than average! But that might just reflect my average ;)




    Mmmm, Cadbury Creme Eggs dipped in peanut butter.

    1. YES.

      I don't know.

      YUM. Trust you to find a way to make creme eggs seem edible :)

  4. I love that brand of noodles so i'll have to keep an eye-out for the green tea flavour! Hmmm never tried tofu with garam marsala but will have to try it now!
    Sounds like a quick & easy dinner turned into a long and not-so-easy dinner! lol

    1. Absolutely :P It would have been super simple if the kitchen / power had cooperated! I hope you find the noodles - they're really fun even if the green tea flavour isn't very noticeable.

  5. The poor noodles! BUt at least you figured it out. Does sound crazy though. I wonder if we have those green tea noodles here...they sound tasty!

    1. If I'm honest, I'd have struggled to identify green tea in the taste (perhaps if they hadn't been overcooked it would have been different though!). However - the colour won me over with no trouble :)

  6. Oh my gosh, that's such a crazy dinner ordeal! Glad the food was salvaged in the end! I hope everything is fixed soon!

    1. Thanks Gabby - we've decided to keep lighting the gas flames manually for the time being, to avoid any further issues just yet!

  7. These noodles look delish, and not at all harmed by the drama behind them. I agree with continuing to light the gas manually - scary!

  8. Oh no!! That all seems a little dangerous... I never imaged cooking noodles could be so difficult. Lucky it was investigated.

    1. You'd think noodles would be fool proof, wouldn't you? I suppose the fact they were still edible speaks to their resilience at least!

  9. Ahh the dramas of modern life. Everything in our kitchen is on the same circuit so if you have the dishwasher, microwave, oven and kettle on the power goes out. It does mean you need to think about what you are using all the time!

    1. Oh, that is funny - it would definitely require a bit of thinking if you were to avoid cutting everything out!

  10. Your meal looks like it turned out great after such an ordeal! I adore all types of noodles but haven't tried green tea noodles before.

    1. I hadn't either but will look out for more interesting flavours now. I can think of all sorts of things I'd like in noodle form (sundried tomato, basil, chilli...)!

  11. Green leaf tea has many benefits as it helps to keep our mood cool,reduce the level of blood sugar etc.
    my favorite tea is loose green leaf tea.
    Green Tea Online India


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