Book Review: Steamy Kitchen Cookbook by Jaden Hair

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.

25 Comments

  1. The Teacher Cooks

    I am going to buy the book!!! The Today show will be taped while I am working. I really want to be able to do Asian food justice. This is just what I need to broaden my cooking skills. Thanks for the great review.

  2. Sheri

    I’ve enjoyed the recipes Jaden posts on this site and loved the one I tried. I think I’m going to request that my local library buy this cookbook. They always want to know “what do people want to read?” and my answer will be “this cookbook!”

  3. SAS

    This is a fantastic cookbook – so much packed into one book, and fun to read! I think the best part is how Jaden is one of us, learning as she goes and sharing the process with all the pain and glory. It’s easier to try something new when even the “pro” admits her challenges! She also de-mystifies Asian ingredients, making everything seem within reach.

    Mow lucky are my friends? I ordered a stack of these for Christmas gifts!

  4. Lyndsey

    I am so excited about Jaden’s book. It was so lucky that she brought us along with her on her book writing journey. Jaden you’re thr best, and great book!

  5. Deborah

    I am really looking forward to ordering Jaden’s book as soon as I return to the US in December. It looks amazing from what I have seen across the web but it isn’t available here in Italy right now. I love Asian food and after 6 months in Umbria I am REALLY looking forward to trying out some of Jaden’s amazing recipes.

  6. the domestic mama

    ooooo! I just recently discovered steamy kitchen, and I was thrilled when I got a comment on my site from JADEN herself! I was on cloud nine! But, now- knowing even MORE… I am on cloud TEN! Lol, can’t wait to get my copy of the book, GREAT review! Happy chomps to all!

  7. Lori @ RecipeGirl

    I’m hugely sad that I don’t have my hands on this cookbook yet… still waiting for it to come in the mail! Can’t wait to see Jaden w/ Hoda & the drunk ;)

  8. Tatiana

    I am eagerly awaiting it’s arrival, which Amazon.ca for some reason takes 1-3 weeks to ship, thanks for a tantalizing review, which actually made me want to take you up on the ginger challenge :)

  9. Cassy

    Good review and very interesting book. I think I’m going to buy it and try some of its’ Asian recipes. Hope they are easy to do. Thank you.

  10. Susan

    I saw the clip you linked for her Today show appearance on twitter (I had missed the show). Thank you! It was refreshing to see the hosts both so attentive to the guest chef for a change. Jaden came in prepared and was not at a loss for personality or words. She was a natural! I can’t wait to get the book.

  11. katrina

    Great review, Elise! I can’t wait to order this – one for me, two more for Christmas presents. And wasn’t she great on the Today show?

    Hi Katrina, Jaden was awesome on the Today Show! She totally held her own with the hosts. ~Elise

  12. Marsha @ RegionalBest

    This book is so gorgeous! I made the Shrimp Pad Thai over the weekend (on the cover). I’ve never made Pad Thai in my life! Turned out fabulous and was easy to make.

  13. Gregrie

    For those of you that don’t have her web site in your favorites, your missing out on alot of Jaden’s great dishes that are already on line and ready to make. Steamy Kitchen will become a great addition to your PC.

  14. Pioneer Woman

    I have it. I love it. It’s a beautiful cookbook with so much personality. Totally visual. I made beef with broccoli and yummmmmmmmy!

    Jaden “done outdone” herself with this one!

  15. Deborah Dowd

    Don’t you love it when a fellow blogger hatches a book! I love Jaden’s blog and I will be hitting Amazon for her book.

Post a comment

Your comment may need to be approved before it will appear on the site. Thanks for waiting. First time commenting? Please review the Comment Policy.

Some HTML is OK. URLs are automatically converted to links. Line breaks are automatically converted to paragraphs. The following HTML tags are allowed: a, abbr, acronym, b, blockquote, cite, code, del, em, i, q, strike, strong