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Two or three years ago, when searching for a fat free alternative to most meat products as they were available then, I bought a bag of dried soya chunksi

My intention was to add the chunks to stews, curries, casseroles et al. The results of so doing were not very far from inedible. The flavour was repugnant and the texture of the cooked soya was more than off putting. It was, I imagine, much like trying to chew a boiled synthetic sponge (I say synthetic because for all I know when boiled long enough real sponges may indeed be edible, whereas I am confident that the synthetic variety never will be).

There are those who would advocate consigning the remainder of unpleasant foods  to the bin but I have always had difficulty in throwing anything at all away and throwing away something that is potentially eatable is, well "haram". I firmly tied the neck of the bag and placed it in the back of cupboard where it remained until last Friday. While tidying the cupboard space I found the bag once more, again I felt the pressure to dispose of it one way or another and so rather than throw it away I decided to try again.

I made the strongest of curries, oodles of tamarind, fresh chillies, dried chillis, coriander, tumeric, fresh ginger, dried ginger, fresh garlic, dried garlic, tumeric, cumin, tomatoes, tomatoe paste, I was blowing every chord I'd got. The results were decidedly better than the previous attempts but still I feared would be regarded as repellant by both friends and family.

As I stared forlornly at the bag, contemplating the final sad act of disposal, I cast my eye over the instructions and oh!

Now, instructions I want you to understand, are not necessarily an anathema to me. I have, on occasion, when working in IT, turned to the instructions after all else has failed. I have in the past even recommend to colleagues that they read the flipping manual (or words to that effect) but as the contents of these instructions were entirely new to me, its was reasonable to suppose that for this product I had previously deemed the reading of the instructions, unnecessary. Oh! Oh indeed!

Soak for 8 hours (or overnight). Throw away the water, refill and boil for 30 minutes...Hmmm! Drain, refill and boil for 1 hour 30 minutes... I see... Dispose of the water again. My god this is like cooking raw tripe. Who could of guessed? Noone but that I suppose is the reason why one should at least cast an eye over the instructions.

Well back to the drawing board. Soaked, boiled, boiied again. Cooked a third time with garlic, chilli, fresh ginger, leeks, carrots, onions, shallots, diced swede, white cabbage, shredded spring greens, diced parsnips, you get the picture, I was going to dispose of all the left over veg together with the  soya in one enormous great soup or vegetable hotpot. The results sadly still wern't quite right, so in went fish sauce and chopped frozen basa....

At last. Delicious! Well I thought so. My wife and son wouldn't touch it.

I shan't be buying dried soya chunks again. I've done my best. I met the challenge, nothing was wasted (what about the water, the gas and your time a small voice whispers, what ab out the wasted cupboard space a slightly louder voice, which might have been that of my wife, responds) but I'd ended up using fish to make the dish palatable which I could have done without the soya, indeed without the soya I would have had a very acceptable vegetable soup on its own.

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