Cookbook Review: ONE PERFECT INGREDIENT by Marcus Wareing

Pure simplicity by the best working chef in London.” 


One Perfect Ingredient, Three Ways to Cook it by Marcus Wareing

If you always try to shop according to what’s in season like I do, you may just get a little tired of eating the same old dish all the time, especially in winter when there isn’t much choice around. No matter how big a fan of broccoli, carrot or cabbage you are, you are bound to get bored of it at one time or another! Fear not, this wonderful book by Marcus Wareing comes to your rescue! Focusing on one ingredient at a time, Marcus presents at least three imaginative, delicious but simple ways of cooking with it, offering a wealth of fresh ideas on how to use the everyday ingredients that repeatedly show up in your shopping basket.

Marcus Wareing is one of the best British chefs today: he is a two Michelan-starred chef, he worked with the (in)famous Gordon Ramsay, and he won the Great British Menu competition with his custard tart with Garibaldi biscuits. The winning dessert was served to the Queen and her guests at a banquet celebrating her 80th birthday. As you can see, the man has a lot of kitchen kudos! All this shines through this book, through his genius flavour combinations (e.g. in his Pineapple tians with mascarpone and mint, Tomato and Watermelon Gazpacho, Basil Creme Brulee), and creativity (e.g. Broccoli soup with stilton crumble, Mango and Wasabi Salsa in Wonton Cups). However, please do not be intimidated by this; this is not a very chefy book! The recipes are actually very very simple, without a long list of ingredients, and mostly very easy and don’t take very long to make.

Beautifully photographed by David Loftus, this book has a simple, efficient  and sleek design that makes it easy to use and to read. I would especially like to highlight delicate pencil illustrations of various ingredients by Emma Dibben which precede each section. My favourite is the one of vegetables, on a green background. Simply beautiful.

The book is organised into sections on Vegetables, Fish and shellfish, Meat, Dairy and eggs, Fruit and Storecuboard. Apart from the general index, there is also a most helpful Ingredients finder, focusing both on key and general ingredients used. In each section, every ingredient is given a short introduction featuring a selection of details such as when it’s at its best, what are the best varieties, how to store it and how to shop for it. There are at least 3 recipes per ingredient, offering 3 different ways of using it. For example Broccoli soup with stilton crumble, Broccoli and almond pesto and Broccoli salad with bacon and pine nuts, or Roast pork with sage, onion and lemon stuffing, Asian pork chops with seared lettuce, Barbecued belly of pork. In addition, the recipes are quite concise and precise. Indeed, it’s all ‘short and sweet’.

I was sent this book by people from Dorling Kindersley (DK) a couple of weeks ago as a part of the promotional campaign for the book. I would like to emphasise that I have no connection with  DK whatsoever, they are not paying me for this review, and there were absolutely no strings attached when I was offered this book. With Marcus’ first book being on my wish list anyway, I was happy to receive his new book, and see what he has produced this time. My first impression when I got the book was how delicious the recipe sounded, and I was particularly impressed by the above flavour combinations! It made me want to go to the kitchen and start cooking, and I kept marking the recipes I want to try out! That, in my books, is a very good sign! I wouldn’t buy a cookbook that doesn’t make me feel this way!

In fact, I’ve already made his Moroccan aubergines with yogurt, which I loved! Unfortunately, I don’t have my camera at the moment, so there are no photos yet. 

I must admit that I love the concept behind this book: Marcus’ goal is to give us a slightly different perspective on the familiar ingredients, thus producing a book one can turn to at all times for inspiration and ideas. Furthermore, by putting one ingredient in focus, it indirectly emphasises the quality of ingredients. In my opinion, the book fills its goals beautifully!

The only criticism I would have so far is that I wish it were a little bigger, with more recipes, more ingredients, and thus more options! 120 recipes do not leave much space for too many ingredients.

Finally, for your reading pleasure, here are a few example recipes, all of them on my must-try list:

Rhubarb and Rosewater Parfait

Couscous with spiced chickpeas and pineapple

Walnut and caramelized shallot couscous

Spicy chorizo and pepper risotto

Asian coleslaw with chicken

Sea bass with a pine nut crust and red wine vinaigrette

Sole with butterbean and chorizo hotpot

Tuna tartar with pickled cucumber

Baked Goats Cheese with Figs and Walnuts


One Perfect Ingredient is published on 1 April 2008. In the meantime, buy it on Dorling Kindersley website or on Amazon.




Coming soon on Maninas: Food Matters!!!!





Here comes your chance to win Marcus’ new book!!!

I’m organising a competition here at Maninas focusing on people’s favourite ingredients, and ways to cook with them.

5 LUCKY WINNERS will receive Marcus’ new book from the publisher, DK!

Stay tuned – more details coming soon!




Leave a comment


  1. That sounds like a great cookbook. I’ll look out for your competition…


  2. Though I am a vegetarian, this sounds like a cookbook I would like to add to my collection. Thanks for taking the time to write this review.


  3. LINDA, it’s coming soon! πŸ™‚

    LISA, Thanks! I enjoyed writing it! And I adore cookery books! Actually, it was your blog that prompted me to seek out World Vegetarian, and I’m so glad I did. It’s an amazing book! I haven’t bought it yet, but it definitely has a high priority on my wish list! πŸ™‚


  4. Simon Hopkinson does something very similar in his books and I love it. Not sure whether I should thank you for making me want to buy another cookbook or go in a huff! πŸ˜‰


  5. or…. you can take part in the competition! πŸ™‚

    which simon hopkinson book is that?


  6. Good idea. πŸ™‚
    “Roast Chicken and Other Stories” , both the first and second book.


  7. What a fantastic name for a book! Hillarious! πŸ˜€


  8. Sounds interesting, as do the recipe names you mentioned. Rhubarb and rosewater caught my eye…


  9. Yes, I thought that was a fabulous combination myself!


  10. this sounds like a book i’d love to have. could you please let us know when you announce your event? we’ll add it to the events calendar on our blog. do get on ‘taste of india’ if you can. it’s like food blog desam.


  11. I didn’t know David Loftus had done the photos. I love his pictures – must check this book out next time I’m in a bookshop!


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