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Book review: A Wong: The Cookbook

15 October 2015 by
Book review: A Wong: The Cookbook

Andrew Wong

Mitchell Beazley, £25

Here at The Caterer we're lucky enough to be a hop, skip and a jump from Andrew Wong's London Victoria restaurant A Wong, and it's an absolute pleasure to visit. Named for his parents Albert and Annie, the restaurant was once run by his father, who named it Kym's for his own mother.

These days it is lovingly operated by Andrew and his wife Nathalie and is a far cry from neon sauces. Instead, as chef Ken Hom remarks in his foreword to the book, it offers "cutting-edge cooking" that is "brimming with passion and soul".

This passion is abundant in his debut cookbook, which aims to represent Chinese cooking in a way that exemplifies the complexities of this diverse cuisine while maintaining the traditional values and cultural idiosyncrasies of each recipe. Classic dishes like har gao (clear prawn dumplings), presented here with sweet and sour rice vinegar foam and a slick of sweet chilli sauce, demonstrate Wong's own touches.

Singapore noodles also undergo a fresh interpretation. Wong takes inspiration from the approach of three-Michelin-starred French chef Michel Bras to his signature dish gargouillou (garden vegetables in varying textures) which begins with sautéing cured ham in a pan to release its aromas. Wong's recipe begins the same way, using dry-cured ham from Jinhua in Zheijang province and a paprika and curry spice mix, before cooking the remaining ingredients. It is this meaty base that turns the ordinary into the extraordinary.

While the prospect of reproducing these dishes is undoubtedly daunting for those less well-versed in Chinese cookery, this talented chef makes every effort to reassure and guide. Dumplings, he says, can be the ‘dinner in 20 minutes' in a Chinese household, but that only comes after years of practice and he suggests setting aside two two-hour slots. But with patience, anyone can learn to make them, he maintains.

The honesty and love presented here is so reassuring that it's hard to imagine anyone not willing to give at least a handful of these beautiful dishes a try.

By Janie Manzoori-Stamford

If you like this, try these

Hunan: A Lifetime of Secrets from Mr Peng's Chinese Kitchen Qin Xie

The Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook Fuschia Dunlop

Chinese Unchopped Jeremy Pang

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