Dominique Woolf on making bold Asian flavours part of your everyday

It's out! Dominique's cookbook, The Asian Pantry — a flavour bomb, filled with easy recipes and exciting combinations using storecupboard ingredients. We love that she leans on Sous Chef for her must-have hard-to-find Asian ingredients. 

Dominique's journey into food began five years ago, inspired by her Thai heritage and a desire to share her culinary passion. Her business, The Woolf’s Kitchen, and her cookbook success highlight her commitment to bringing innovative Asian flavours to home kitchens.

Here, we speak with Dominique about her favourite (unique) flavour combination, the one kitchen hack she thinks everyone should know, and auntie Dang's Tamarind Ketchup. 

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten recently?

I’ve just come back from Thailand and had some incredible food including the most amazing southern Thai curry with soft shell crab - creamy, spicy, a little sweet and such depth of flavour. Incredible.

What’s the one dish to make anyone fall in love with your new book?

So hard to choose just one! The Sticky Hoisin Beef is a perfect fakeaway dish, sweet and sticky, a bit of heat and so quick and easy.

Or the Stir-fried curry noodles - so easy but a streetfood worthy plate of food and a great recipe to have up your sleeve! Oh and for dessert my Soy sauce chocolate pots. I know that’s more than one!

Try Dominique's recipe for Kimchi Beef Peanut Butter Ramen Recipe

Which Sous Chef ingredients are always stocked in your pantry?

I always have Thai red curry paste, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, miso paste, sriracha and gochujang.

With those ingredients you can make an endless number of flavour-packed dishes!

Were you always destined to cook? What has been your path into food?

I’ve always been a foodie and loved eating out and exploring new cuisines, but had never considered cooking as a career until more recently. My mum is Thai so I grew up loving Thai and Asian flavours.

About 5 years ago I was at a careers crossroads and realised food was the passion I wanted to pursue. My Thai auntie Dang used to make this amazing tamarind sauce, and the first time I tried it, I was blown away and knew I wanted to create a food brand.

I also wanted to become a food writer and write recipes, so enrolled in a professional course at Leith’s school of food and wine. I started my business The Woolf’s Kitchen in lockdown 2020 selling a range of sauces including Tamarind Ketchup inspired by auntie Dang’s.

Then 2 years ago I had the amazing fortune of winning The Great Cookbook Challenge TV show with Jamie Oliver which resulted in my first cookbook Dominique’s Kitchen. 

What new tips, tricks or ideas have you learned while writing the book

Writing The Asian Pantry was a great opportunity to be really creative with flavour. I love using Asian ingredients in unexpected ways and learned that soy sauce and chocolate go really well together!

I also discovered lots of less familiar but equally delicious dishes like my mum’s favourite breakfast Khao Tom - a Thai rice soup.

What are the components of a fantastic meal for you?

For me, it’s the combination of spicy, salty, sour, sweet that I absolutely love, which is why the zingy, punchy flavours in Asian cuisine are my favourite.

Ideally there would be several dishes as well, so you get to try a bit o everything!

My dream meal would have some form of coconut based curry, perhaps some charred moo ping skewers, a roti, and something more fresh like a som tam and perhaps some king prawns with a feisty nam jim Thai dressing. Heavenly!

What is one kitchen tip everyone should know?

The freezer is your friend! I often freeze chillis, garlic, ginger and lemongrass which means a delicious meal is always at your fingertips

What dish do you make most often?

I go through phases but a Thai curry of some description is my go-to.

Once you have a good quality Thai curry paste and coconut milk in the cupboard, you can whip one up in about 20 minutes with whatever fresh ingredients you have in the fridge!

Who do you most like to cook for?

My husband is a great customer! It’s always a joy seeing him devour a dish I’ve just made.

What do you cook, when you’re cooking for yourself?

I’ll often do stir-fried rice, something like the Thai green curry fried rice recipe in the book. Quick and easy, and tasty!

What’s your favourite ingredient to cook with right now?

I do love gochujang and use it a lot! It’s so versatile and adds a wonderful sweet heat to dishes.

I use it in so many dishes like the Kimchi Beef Peanut Butter Ramen, in a gorgeous Korean sweet potato stew and in salad dressings.

Where do you find inspiration?

I’m always on the hunt for inspiration and find it everywhere. Travel is always a great source, as is eating out.

I also like to look at more traditional dishes and love putting my spin on them. Often I’ll focus on an ingredient itself, like gochujang, and create something new and exciting from that starting point

What ingredients have you recently discovered that you are excited about?

Black garlic - I haven’t yet used it and am intrigued!

What is your favourite ingredient to work with and why?

I love eggs and have one pretty much every day. They’re so versatile and quick and go brilliantly with crispy chilli oil!

How do you stay current with food trends and incorporate them into your food?

I live in London where there are so many new restaurant openings, markets and pop-ups, so for me, eating out is a great way of discovering what’s going on.

Social media also has a part to play and helps spark ideas, whether it’s dishes that people are making or restaurants they’re going to. 

Try Dominique's recipe for Satay BLT Recipe

Can you tell me about a particularly memorable meal you have had and what made it so special?

A street food meal I had in Bangkok’s China Town 10 years ago. The atmosphere was buzzing, there was the smell of charcoal in the air and I just felt like a child in a sweet shop!

We had barbecued skewers of squid served with a punchy nam jim seafood (spicy Thai dressing) which I loved, as well as an incredible Singapore-style prawns 

What will you be cooking next?

I can’t wait to have a go at cooking some of the dishes I experienced in Thailand.

I visited the Isan region in north-east Thailand and tried so many new dishes, including Pad mee Korat - a rice noodle dish similar to Pad Thai but unique to the Korat region.

What’s your favourite kitchen tool - do you go in for gadgetry? 

I’m not a gadget person - my favourite tool is a fine grater like a microplane for grating ginger - it makes your life a lot easier!

Which cookbooks have shaped the way you cook, or think about food?

I have many Jamie Oliver books - I love the simplicity  of the recipes. They definitely helped shape my writing style.

How do you balance tradition and innovation in your cooking?

I love taking more traditional dishes and seeing how I can make them my own. Often this means simplifying them, or using the flavours in different ways.

I also love using Asian ingredients in every day cooking, not just in traditional recipes, and coming up with exciting flavour combinations. 


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