Ominous warning for the recipe I was about to challenge myself with. Spicy Mutton and Tomato Biang Biang noodles. What could possibly go wrong? Not the roasted tomato and mutton broth constituents of this adaptation by Pippa Middlehurst of a classic dish from Xi’an, eastern hub of the Silk Road.
No, it was the handling of the biang biang that was likely to shoot me in the foot. Basically you’ve got one chance to stretch the noodle dough to the right silky, elasticity. BIang Biang is the onomatopoeic sound the dough makes when you slap it on the worktop. Pippa says it takes practice to perfect; after much trepidation and the required minimal contact I landed lucky with my metre lengths of noodle. Comparatively. The final dish, laced with coriander, cumin and star anise, was gorgeous.
It’s from Bowls and Broths (Quadrille £16.99), sophomore cookbook by the cancer research scientist turned supper club maestro, aka @pippyeats, after the huge success of her debut, Dumplings and Noodles.
The new book will be published on September 2, ahead of the launch of her food school and fully-equipped community cookery space for hire, Noodlehaus in Ancoats later in the year. It might well fit the bill for any further educational initiation of mine into the noodlesphere. So far £43,775 has been pledged in a Kickstarter Campaign.
This base in an old mill is the obvious next step for Pippa, winner of the BBC’s Britain’s Best Home Cook in 2018. She quit the lab that year to run cookery workshops and supper clubs around Manchester under the Instagram soubriquet @pippyeats. Result of travels around Taiwan, China and Japan, including noodle school in Lanzhou, was Dumplings and Noodles.
Her latest local al fresco expedition was setting up stall last weekend at Platt Fields Market Garden, providing high class ballast for their Deya Brewing and Friends event. Yet another sign of a new wave city food culture that transcends traditional restaurants and bars.
As for her own project, she told my colleagues at Manchester Confidential ahead of her Kickstarter launch: “I am so excited to be able to create my dream cookery school in the heart of Manchester. The building is in an old mill and has the most incredible natural light, which will be amazing for the photography workshops I will be hosting. The space will be open to all and I am looking forward to working with the community to provide a space that people can come and learn about cooking as well as share my love of cooking.”
That love of cooking bubbles over (like my biang biang noodle pot) in the new tome, which lives up to its manifesto: ‘Build a bowl of flavour from scratch with dumplings, noodles and more’.
Broth is the key. So my next dip into Pippa’s bowl-centric universe is a ramen, a dish I love but – guess what? – have never quite got right. She proposes a Tonkotsu Tsukemen. Just need now to source the requisite amount of pork bones and chicken feet.
It’s a culinary keepsake from her time in Japan and bears the inevitable proviso: “The noodles were thick and bouncy with a perfect amount of resistance and chew.” For someone whose ‘al dente’ pasta has been dubbed by my nearest and dearest as ‘al dentist’ it’s yet another challenge.
Noodlehaus, 37-49 Devonshire Street North, Manchester, M12 6JR. pippyeats.com