A few months back my OH came home from work with a new cookbook he’d bought from one of the many book clubs that come in to work places around the country. At first I was excited (I love a good cookbook and can often be found flicking through one) until I saw which one – The Wagamama cookbook. A few weeks earlier in the middle of a shopping trip he had taken me to said restaurant. I really wanted to like the food but I didn’t enjoy the particular noodle soup I ordered. It was by no means the fault of the restaurant chain but more down to the fact that I’m not a fan of Asian food. I put it down to two things – 1. I’m a fussy eater especially when it comes to veg (which play a big part in many of the dishes) and 2. I was brought up on a diet of meat and 2 veg (limited to potatoes, carrots, peas and sweetcorn!) with very little herbs and spices. Since getting in to cooking I am constantly challenging myself to try new dishes, vegetables and fish with a good amount of success (and some failures!).
So one cold, winters night I sat down with the wagamama cookbook. The first thing that struck me was how well presented the book is. Lots of glossy pages with lots of clear pictures of well presented food. I really like the concept of healthy food that is simple to prepare and this book is filled with them. The only down side is a lot of the recipes need ingredients only available from oriental stores (not great in a small country town or for those wanting to dip in to these recipes occasionally without having to have a large oriental store cupboard!). However for keen cooks regularly cooking good quality oriental food this would be a great addition to the book shelf.
I did however find one dish that took my fancy, one of the few dish’s in the book not on the menu in their restaurants, Salmon hot pot. It is not on the menu as it takes 30 minutes to cook! To me this is still a very convenient, quick week night supper, as 15 minutes of this time the dish is in the oven leaving you free to do other tasks (usually washing up or preparing the next days lunch boxes in my house). I have altered the recipe slightly as the book recommends serving with brown rice but I preferred to serve it with noodles. It has become a regular week night supper in our house and although I have as yet not cooked anything else from the book I do still flick through it ocassionally and have made simpler stir frys etc from other sources. Overall it has inspired me to keep trying oriental food (especially noodles) but at the moment. for me at least, they will be inspired by this book but simplifed ingredient wise.
Update – November 2010. I still cook this dish a lot so I have added some photos.
Salmon hot pot
(from the wagamama cookbook with a couple of alterations by me in brackets)
400g salmon (I never way them, just use 2 salmon fillets)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (Again I don’t measure and probably use less, just a good splash in the wok/frying pan)
1 leek, trimmed and finely sliced
1 tbsp finely chopped shallot (or small onion quiet often!)
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 stick of celery, finely diced
1 tsp sugar
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
salt and white pepper (I use black and omit salt as soy sauce has enough)
75ml light soy sauce (I found this amount too salty so I use reduced salt dark soy sauce and only around a couple of table spoons or so topping up with water)
300g cooked brown rice (or noodles)
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4.
- Remove the skin from the salmon and cut in to bite-sized chunks.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan/wok or ideally a casserole dish which can be used on the hob and in the oven.
- Once hot, add the leek, onion, carrot and celery and saute over a medium heat for 10 minutes to soften but not brown the vegetables.
- Add the garlic and sugar, mix and continue to cook for a minute or so.
- Transfer to an oven proof dish/casserole if necessary, add chunks of salmon mix and season with salt (if desired) and pepper.
- Pour over soy sauce (or soy/water mixture).
- Cover and bake in oven for 15 minutes, I often remove the foil for the last 5 Min’s.
- Cook the noodles as per instructions on the packet.
- Mix noodles with salmon hot pot and serve.