I thought I'd bring Cookbooks on Trial back from hiatus by featuring a book that I love, Jaden Hair's The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.
Jaden is a popular food blogger/recipe developer/photographer who runs a culinary empire over at steamykitchen.com. I've enjoyed her blog for years and so I decided to try out her cookbook.
A little background about me: I'm not a great cook and I don't cook dinner from scratch every night (or if we're being completely honest, most nights) but when I do want to cook something for dinner I usually turn to Asian recipes. One of the reasons why is that I grew up eating a lot of Korean food and so I'm familiar with the flavors, but the main reason is E's food allergies.
With milk/cheese/butter/cream/eggs/nuts/shrimp off the table I find it easier to cook dishes that don't include these ingredients in the first place rather than jury rig workarounds that don't quite taste like the real thing. (Or course, dessert is the exception--I have aspirations to become an capable vegan baker.)
I made a number of things from the book: Baked Garlic Chilli Wings (spicy and perfect for a Superbowl party), Quick Vietnamese Chicken Pho (surprising easy and delicious), Chinese Beef Broccoli (healthy and fast enough for a weeknight meal) and Hoisin and Honey Glazed Baby Back Ribs (tender and delicious). Even after I had tried out a few recipes for the purpose of reviewing the book I found myself going back to it again and again just because it's fun to read and cook from.
I'm giving this book 5 (out of 5) stars. The instructions are clear, it contains a wide variety of dishes, it's written in a pleasant conversational voice, it's lovely to flip through (practically every recipe is accompanied by a well-shot photo), and most importantly, every recipe I've tried has turned out deliciously. The only adjustment I've had to make is cutting back a little on the five spice powder because N and I aren't big fans of anise. Also, I wish the recipes included nutritional information, but it's not an huge issue for me.
Out of all the (many) Asian cookbooks I own, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook is hands-down the most helpful for cooking quick flavorful dinners that you can actually put together on a weeknight. I love flipping through an esoteric super-authentic specialized cookbook as much as the next gal but this book actually gets used at our house.
Jaden writes in such a friendly voice that cooks new to Asian food can get as much out of it as those more familiar with Asian flavors. If you'd like to branch out and try some Asian recipes this would be a good book to start with. And if you want to try out some of her recipes before committing to the book, check them out here.
I've enjoyed this book so much that I volunteered to recipe-test Jaden's second cookbook. N's excited because it means that he gets a tasty fresh-cooked dinner every night this week. (Tonight it's Teriyaki Salmon with Miso Asparagus) I just hope he doesn't get too used to it :)
Hoisin and Honey Glazed Baby Back Ribs
from Jaden Hair's The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.
(Serves 6 as part of a multi-course meal)
- 5 lbs baby back ribs
- salt and freshly ground balck pepper
Hoisin Honey Glaze
(Makes one cup)
- 1 teaspoon high-heat cooking oil
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon face spice powder
- 1 Tablespoon chili garlic sauce
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F
- With a knife or sharp kitchen shears, cut the ribs into sections with 5 or 6 ribs each (enough for a serving). Season the ribs on both sides with salt and pepper. Place the ribs in a large Dutch oven or roasting pan (do not use a sheet pan--it's too shallow to hold in all the juices during roasting). You can stack ribs on top of each other , but try to crisscross them. Cover tightly with a lid or double layer of aluminum foil and slow roast for 3 hours (or up to 6) Remove the ribs to a large sheet pan.
- To make the Hoisin Honey Glaze, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Just when the oil starts to get hot, add the garlic and fry until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients and summer over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until thickened and it coasts the back of a spoon.
- When the glaze is ready, turn the over to broil and set the oven rack in the upper one-third position. Arranged the ribs in one layer on the sheet pan, meat side up. Spoon or brush the glaze on top of the ribs and broil for 3 min, until the glaze begins to bubble and caramelize. Keep an eye on the ribs to make sure you don't burn the glaze! Brush on more glaze if you want before serving.
Labels: cookbooks on trial, food, recipes