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Cookbook Review: The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook by Jaden Hair

Must Read: The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook

If you're well-read in the food blog department, chances are you've come across Steamy Kitchen, a haven for East Asian-inspired recipes. A friend once described Jaden Hair, the mastermind behind the site, as "the Asian version of Rachael Ray," because her recipes are simple, straightforward, and speedy to prepare at home. Recently, she released her first-ever cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook ($19), a compilation of 101 of her top recipes. Is her Eastern take on modern cuisine a good bet when celebrating the Lunar New Year? Find out when you keep reading.

Pros:

  • Every recipe includes a visually stunning photo to correspond to the dish.
  • I tested the Vietnamese chicken pho, which came together in under an hour and truly tasted like the real thing — only healthier.
  • The book has a rarely seen intimacy about it. In addition to the recipes, it also documents Jaden's love affair with food and rise to food-blog fame, and is studded with collages of her cooking, eating, and sharing time with family and foodie friends.

Cons:

  • There's a wealth of information crammed into this cookbook, so if you're one for sparse cookbook layouts, you may find yourself visually overwhelmed.
  • As one might expect, some of the recipes featured in the cookbook are already available on the Steamy Kitchen website.

Recipes: This reference contains a nice assortment of traditional Chinese recipes, pan-Asian dishes, and other fusion favorites. They include:

  • Mom's famous crispy eggrolls
  • Quick Vietnamese chicken pho
  • Tea smoked salmon with cucumber relish
  • Japanese mushrooms baked in soy sake butter
  • Thai coffee ice cream

Imagery: All of the vibrant photographs were styled and shot by Jaden herself, unlike most of the recipe books on the market today.

Overall Rating: With its congenial approach to Asian cooking, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook truly does live up to its claim of being "simple enough for tonight's dinner." For those unfamiliar with East Asian culinary influences, this friendly book would be a light, yet practical overall introduction.

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