Hugo Arnold is crazy about noodles and that enthusiasm is evident from the first page of this delectable book. The photography by Ditta Isager is marvellous and is shown off to best advantage in this large-format volume. I’ll not say too much about Wagamama, the Japanese-inspired restaurant chain, I’ll write a review later. (Read my review of Wagamama Richmond here.)
There are over 120 noodles-based recipes here. Incredible but true! Hugo introduces us to various different types of noodles each with its own texture, flavour and form, and then it’s on to a handy list of common ingredients. Most are readily available from your local supermarket but there are several for which you might need to visit an Asian food store. Once you are set up with your store cupboard you are ready to tackle the recipes.
Perhaps I should say that you are now ready to tackle the soup stocks. Don’t think you can just use a cube of something salty and synthetic. The quality of the final dish depends on the stock so don’t cut corners. This isn’t rocket science – it’s easy to produce flavourful broths and there are even alternatives that use stock cubes (but good quality ones) with the addition of real veggies, etc.
OK, so let’s explore the main recipes. There are chapters on sauces, soups, wraps, in fact everything that is even slightly noodle-related. I was pleased to see a chapter devoted to children: kids love pasta of any kind, and it’s fun to try eating with chopsticks. There is a great selection of dishes here for youngsters to make (with mum or dad), to eat and enjoy. The recipes are simple with few ingredients but delicious combinations such as ginger, soy sauce, orange, chicken and sweetcorn…little hands might need a spoon for that one!
The recipes are truly scrumptious and provide ample choice for meat eaters, fish lovers and vegetarians alike. They are simple to make and rely on fresh ingredients. The dishes work well as a meal for one but equally for family feasts.
It’s difficult to select just a few recipes that typify this book. Its charm is that the dishes are so diverse. Pork Gyozas are meat-filled wontons, Prawn Salad Rolls are light and refreshing and don’t need cooking, but my favourite is Chicken and Egg Noodles with Black Bean Sauce. It’s one of those dishes that is embarrassingly easy but has robust favours and a texture that makes this a regular weekday dinner.
I confess that I am impressed with this book and I didn’t expect to be. I love noodles but I couldn’t imagine a whole volume of recipes. But here it is, and I’ll be using it often.
Wagamama – Ways with Noodles
Author: Hugo Arnold
Published by: Kyle Cathie
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018
See also my review of The Wagamama Cookbook here