Wednesday 10 December 2014

Use Your Noodle by Parragon Books Love Food/Food Heroes Range *REVIEW*

The November cookbook I was sent from Parragon Books is Use Your Noodle - Recipes for Ramen, Soba, Udon and Other Noodles. This full-colour, 128 page paperback cookbook is full to bursting with noodle-based dishes to wow your tastebuds. 

"Take a fresh look at the world of the noodle. With an abundance of recipes using ramen, soba & udon noodles, as well as the classic egg and rice noodles, this cookbook covers all bases. With delicious soups and salads through to amazing mouth-watering mains, and fantastically light dishes to those with a real chilli kick, Use Your Noodle is the ultimate go-to for fast, healthy and utterly delectable noodle dishes!"

We love Asian food in our house - from a fiery Balti curry, a Thai Green Chicken curry that will blow your brains out, to a simple Chinese stir fry - we eat Asian inspired food a lot, and I love to cook them from scratch. I have my Indian curry and Thai curry recipes honed, but I'm still a bit shaky with a stir fry - I was excited to review this book as it is crammed full of lovely noodle dishes that are crying out for me to give them a go. 

When making noodle-based dishes like a stir fry, I so often see them as a 'cheat' dinner: I worry that I don't have the knowledge base to emulate a really good balanced Asian sauce with the perfect mix of hot/sweet/sour, so instead I buy a pre cut pack of veg, easy cook noodles, and a ready made sachet of sauce and then stir fry it all with a meat of our choice = the easy option.  It is always yummy and it is definitely super-quick but it feels a bit soulless - and I get that cook's guilt that all I've done is open a few packets! 

With this book you can learn some basic noodle cooking principles, some top flavour/ingredient combinations and before you know it you'll be cooking up a noodle-based storm in the kitchen without a packet sauce in sight. 

Book Overview:

  • Introduction - History of the noodle
  • A Bird in the Hand - A selection of 14 delicious recipes from Miso soup and Chicken Chow Mein to Turkey with Coriander Pesto & Soba Noodles. Also a Wok On! section on how to cook, serve and eat noodles.
  • From the Farm - A selection of 12 recipes containing meat. From Pork Ramen soup, Pork Pad Thai, and Sichuan Numbing Beef Salad, to Sesame Udon Noodles with Stir-fried Beef. Also a section called Know Your Noodles! about the different types of noodle. 
  • From the Sea - A selection of 13 recipes using fish and seafood. From Soba Noodle Nicoise Salad and Miso-glazed Cod with Soba Noodles to Spicy Sautéed Prawns in a Ramen Noodle Nest or Garlic Udon Noodles with Crabmeat. Also a section called Udon It? about the classic and best noodle partners. 
  • Veg Out - A selection of 12 vegetable-based recipes from Ramen with Pak Choi & Tofu, to Crispy Noodles with Pak Choi in Oyster Sauce and Udon Noodles with Kale & Miso. Also a section called Ramen it Home! about the health benefits of noodles. 
  • Index
Each recipe has a beautiful full colour image of the finished dish (a MUST for me when it comes to cookery books) and lots of other lovely images as well as how many people each dish serves, how long it takes to prep, and how long it takes to cook. This book doesn't contain any calorie information, I'd love it if it did - but it wasn't too hard for me to work out the calories for it, so I can forgive that one small thing. 

As usual when putting a cookery book through its paces, I had a go at one of the recipes that most caught my eye - Chicken with Udon Noodles and Peanuts. I absolutely love peanuts in food - especially when there is spice involved (Satay sauce is one of my favourites) so when I saw this recipe with a finely balanced sauce made up of fresh garlic, peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, soft brown sugar, sesame oil, cayenne pepper and water I knew I just HAD to make it. 

Udon noodles are also our favourite type of noodle - I first discovered them at a Wagamamma restaurant about 8 years ago when I tried their Ginger Chicken Udon (A mix of teppan-fried udon noodles with chicken, egg, beansprouts, red and spring onions, mangetout and chilli - garnished with pickled ginger and coriander) it was so totally delicious and the flavour combo blew my mind - it was my first but not my last taste of this dish (I order it every time I visit Wagamama and I never regret it) - so starting with an Udon noodle recipe was a must for me when approaching this book review. 
Wagamama's Ginger Chicken Udon - the inspiration for me choosing to make Chicken with Udon Noodles and Peanuts from Use Your Noodle. 

I found the sauce really easy to make - popping all of the measured ingredients into my food processor, and blitzing until I had the perfect consistency. Then in order to assemble the dish it was just a case of cooking some Udon noodles, chopping a red pepper and cucumber into matchsticks, and shredding some cooked chicken breast. The rest was simply an assembly job! 

The smells in the kitchen were divine, and my very hungry husband was salivating at the prospect of what I was about to dish up. As a rule in our house we eat all Thai/Chinese food with chopsticks - so chopsticks at the ready and a big bowl of crunchy prawn crackers on the side, I served up and we tucked in...

Chicken with Udon Noodles and Peanuts

A delicious mix of shredded chicken, red pepper, cucumber, and udon noodles in a spicy peanut sauce garnished with whole salted peanuts, fresh chilli and coriander. 

(Each portion of the Chicken with Udon Noodles and Peanuts worked out at 634 calories)

Our empty plates and being able to hear a pin drop while we ate just went to show how delicious this meal was - hubby said he'd gladly eat it every week and there's no better compliment than that from Liam! The balance of hot/sweet/sour in the sauce was incredible, and hubby said if he was served it in a restaurant he would be impressed - and I have to agree with him. 

If all the recipes in this book taste as good as this one, then I will be a happy lady! This meal will now become a regular in The Bishop Household, and I'm excited to have a go at some of the other recipes in the book....what to cook next...hmmm....


Use Your Noodle is priced at just £4 on the Parragon website - an absolute bargain! 

If you want a good all-rounder book for Asian cooking then this is it. 

It would make the perfect gift for a budding cook this Christmas. 

So go on, use your noodle and buy Use Your Noodle today :-)

Mrs B


Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of Use Your Noodle for the purpose of this review - all words, opinions and images are my own.