Experibento works in my head as a thing, but I fear that it might just be me. Imagine you had a cold and you were trying to say experimental… No…?
The experimental (experibento) item in question is freeze dried tofu. I was a bit dubious about this when I saw it online but I went for it anyway, since I rarely use a whole block of tofu and end up wasting it; I thought it’d be good to be able to have a slice of tofu as and when required. My experiment involved leaving it to soak overnight in stock, which would magically be delicious soup by the morning. Looking at these pictures again, I feel I was being pretty optimistic.
I went for it, though, and prepared the stock first. This involved ginger, garlic, spring onion, shredded nori, dried mushrooms, miso paste (thinned down with some water), nanami togarashi and the tofu, broken into crumbly, crumbly pieces. I think this was a key error – there are no English instructions on the packet and I didn’t think to look it up online, which is a shame because I would have found this link if I had, and would have kept the block whole.
I put all the ingredients into a pot of boiling water, seasoned with soy and left, covered, overnight. I didn’t apply any heat to the pot, I was really looking for something with minimal preparation time that I could take to work the next day. Possibly needless to say, however, overnight soup was not a success. The tofu was really spongy and had a texture essentially unlike anything you might consider food.
An aside: don’t you think that ‘spongey’ looks more like the word that I mean? Spongy looks like you should pronounce it spong-ay instead of spun-gee. I meant spun-gee, in case there was any doubt.
Not to be completely put off (though in hindsight I perhaps should have been), I heated the soup and then ladled out the stock and vegetables into a thermos. Come lunchtime, I found myself with a thermos full of mushroomy, garlicky water. It was a bad time for me. I did not enjoy the mushroomy garlicky water, even though mushrooms and garlic is one of my favourite flavour double acts. I’d have been better off with a thermos of chicken stock. You can tell that I wasn’t really into the overnight soup.
I haven’t been put off using the freeze dried tofu altogether, but next time I’ll take more care over it. I think that it might be best cooked in some way – coated and fried, or deep fried, would probably work because the outside would be crisp to contrast with the spongy inside. I could try smoking it, or maybe processing into balls or croquettes with other ingredients and flavourings. The great thing is that it keeps for a long time, so I can try these different approaches at my leisure, as and when inspiration strikes.
Now, here are my three bentos for last week. You will note that two of them are almost identical; this is because a) the first one was extremely enjoyable and b) I haven’t had much kitchen inspiration in the last few weeks. I think I’ve pulled a muscle in my imagination. Still, I managed three bento and I think I took in sandwiches or something the other two days, so my attempt to stop spending money in the canteen is still going well.
The first one was a box of salad to accompany my overnight soup. As discussed, the overnight soup didn’t go down well, though I did eat/drink half of it. The salad was fresh and bright to look at, but not really filling enough. It did sustain me until I got home in the evening though, despite not being much, so it just goes to show how little you really need to keep you going. Perhaps I should market the overnight soup as a diet aid.
The other two contain smoked salmon, cucumber, asparagus, mini wholemeal pitta breads and, in the case of the first one, some purple sprouting broccoli. The chicken holds some lemon juice, and a good job he does of it, too. I did try to arrange the boxes differently, to keep things visually interesting, and smoked salmon is one of my favourite things so the lack of variety didn’t upset me unduly. I bought a little tub of light cream cheese on both days, which I spread on the pitta before stuffing it with the salmon and cucumber, and a drop or two of lemon juice. Very decadent – as if I wasn’t posh enough, eating my lunch with chopsticks, now I’m having smoked salmon and asparagus. It’s not too late for my head to get flushed down the toilet by the bigger kids, I fear.
I don’t fear it enough not to eat smoked salmon, though. There’s not many things I fear that much.