Like sunshine on a cloudy day. That is my friend Jaden Hair, and that is the spirit that dances throughout her just released The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook. If you are not familiar with Jaden, she is the wacky and wonderful woman behind the ever-so-steamy Steamy Kitchen blog and a frequent contributor to Simply Recipes.
Do you like Chinese food? Thai food? Vietnamese food? Have you, like me, shied away from attempting Asian dishes because they sometimes seem just a little too intimidating? Enter Jaden. The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook is filled with accessible recipes for the American home cook, with plenty of “how to” step-by-step photographs for techniques. Learn how to make potsticker dumplings, how to assemble rice paper summer rolls, and the best tips for buying Chinese broccoli. Jaden has descriptions of the basic pantry ingredients most used in Asian cooking, though there are plenty of recipes that you can likely put together today with pantry items you have on hand (like the steak with sweet tomato onion sauce and her coconut shrimp).
One role of a cookbook (or a food blog for that matter) should be to inspire us to cook. We should be able to look at a photograph, glance at ingredients, and think to ourselves, “Oh, I really want to eat that! Hmm, guess I better make it!” The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook is filled with gorgeous, drool-worthy photographs, all shot by Jaden herself. If you aren’t hungry after paging through this book, I’ll eat a nob of ginger. Straight. Page after page there are recipes that make you think, “Yes, now, please!” Grilled steak with balsamic teriyaki, stir-fried chicken with roasted eggplant, Japanese mushrooms baked in soy sake butter, miso mashed potatoes, ginger and green onion fried rice, grilled bananas with chocolate and toasted coconut flakes, sign me up.
But what I love most about the Steamy Kitchen cookbook is that it is simply bursting with humor and playful exuberance, just like Jaden herself. Here’s a sample from her intro to her steamed rice recipe:
I know. I’m spoiled, sheltered and stupid. I undercooked my rice and watched him chew chew chew gulp cough. He was brave and polite—but I think I saw him pop a couple of Tums behind my back. How could I, a Chinese cook, mess up RICE of all things?!?! That’s totally sacrilegious and I might as well be disowned by my “peeps”.
“Ahhh… Jaden-grasshoppa… Confuscious, Buddha and Jackie Chan all very much upset. We meditate and pray for your awakening.” Well, after that afternoon, I made rice in a pot, on the stovetop for the next two months straight. I call this Rice, Unplugged.
Yes, this is no ordinary cookbook.
If you have enjoyed Jaden’s recipes here on Simply Recipes, if you love Chinese, Thai, Japanese, or Vietnamese food, I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook today! You won’t be disappointed. It would also make a great Xmas gift for a friend who loves to cook.