Dominique Woolf’s ‘The Asian Pantry’ – Reviewed by Mex Ibrahim

The Asian Pantry – is the much anticipated second cookbook by Dominique Woolf . Dominique is the winner of Channel 4’s The Great Cookbook Challenge by Jamie Oliver and also creator of the award-winning The Woolf’s Kitchen chilli oils, sauces and pastes.  She was one of the panellists at our Summer Healthy Eating event, where we were lucky enough to be some of the first people to see her book before its publication. Our co-founder Mex Ibrahim, reviews The Asian Pantry after Dominque’s wonderful launch party.

Mex Ibrahim and Dominique Woolf with The Asian Pantry

I pride myself on being quite a lazy cook. Which doesn’t mean I never cook, or only heat up microwave meals or open packets of salads. Delia Smith is a major influence of mine.  Her classic and somewhat controversial cookbook at the time How to Cheat at Cooking holds pride of place in my kitchen. Her book used jars and tins to  create recipes that were instant time savers will allow you to create “fabulous food without the faff“.  I would say that Dominique’s book shares St Delia’s premise and shows how armed with a collections of bottles and jars in your kitchen you can create flavour packed Asian-Inspired dishes with ease.

At our Summer Healthy Eating event held at Halifax Bank’s HQ, we were lucky enough to sample some of Dominque’s Great Taste Award Winning sauces, ketchups, chili oils and pastes from her vibrant brand The Woolf’s Kitchen. Dominique says her pantry storecupboard is  “part of her”.  But don’t think you have to have a massive pantry heaving with tons of jars of spices and pastes. In The Asian Pantry, Dominique had chosen 21 key Asian ingredients that are all you need. “It might sound like a lot,” she says, “but the chances are you have many of them already”.

The Asian Pantry with Woolfs Kitchen Products

I actually did, and armed with a few more which were part of Dominique’s heaving book launch goody bag, I bookmarked a number of recipes that I knew would become part of my regular menu of Thai, Vietnamese and Korean influenced dishes. I am lucky enough to live near Asian supermarkets & regularly commute into the Soho’s “China Town” so can always find “flavour bombs” such as Korean Gochujang, white miso paste, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, good red and green Thai curry paste, tamarind paste & Chinese 5-spice.

The Asian Pantry - Vietnamese Rice Noodles

Dominique also helpfully suggests some simple substitutes if you can’t get hold of the original 21 ingredients she suggests. Plus the great thing about many Asian pastes and oils is that they will live happily in your storecupboard or fridge for several months.

Dominique Woolf with some of the ingredients in The Asian Pantry

She has several recipes amongst the 80 in The Asian Pantry which use up each of the ingredients, so you won’t find yourself wonderful what to do with a pot of white miso paste, if you’ve only used a couple of spoonfuls for one recipe.

The Asian Pantry - Crispy Noodles

Dominique is half-Thai and puts her spin on many traditional dishes. She says “For me, it’s about those incredible flavours – spicy, salty, sour, sweet and umami – that add so much to a dish. Yes, you’ll find recipes in this book that are based on more “traditional dishes” – always with my spin on of course. But you’ll also find many recipes which use the ingredients in exciting and unexpected ways to create something quite unique – all the while being truly achievable.”

The Asian Pantry Garlicky Soy Noodles

Summing up her book in a sentence, The Evening Standard called it: ‘A collection of fuss-free recipes that are packed full of flavour and goodness . . . We love the fusion of Thai and British food in many of these recipes

Dominique Woolf at Women in The Food Industry Event The Asian Pantry - Dominique Woolf - Featured Image

So if you are looking for big, vibrant and feisty flavours to transport you to a part of the globe that’s renowned for its colour and creativity pick up The Asian Pantry and enjoy great dishes every day.

The Asian Pantry is published by Penguin

You may also like to read Antonia Lloyd’s cookbook reviews of A Woman’s Place is in the Kitchen by Sally Abe, Elly Wentworth at The Angel of Dartmouth, Cooking with Anna by Anna HaughEasy Wins by Anna JonesThe Taste of Belgium by Ruth Van Waerebeek and her review of Plant Feasts by Frankie Paz, our review of Recipes for a Better Menopause by Jane Baxter & Dr Federica Amati and our book review of Modern South Asian Kitchen by Sabrina Gidda

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