This cookbook is all but guaranteed to make your mouth water. Really.
Offering 101 Asian recipes designed for the kitchen rookie as well as the more experienced cook, "The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook" is organized into nine sections:
Appetizers and Little Bites
Soups, Salads and Wraps
Vegetables, Tofu and Eggs
Rice and Noodles
Sweets and Libations
Among the basics are explanations of how to make dipping sauces, good chicken, beef or seafood stock, Vietnamese dips, soy sauces and other flavors.
There's also an explanation of what tools you'll need, from a bamboo steamer to knives, peelers, graters, mortar and pestle, rice cooker, skimmer, steaming rack and tongs.
Her ingredients list includes bean sprouts, bean sauce or paste, bok choy (I do not know why I cannot write "bok" and always type "boy" first), chiles, rice wine, vinegars, oils and many other flavorings and basic foodstuffs. Rice, of course, is an essential.
All this is a prelude to actual meals, which run the gamut from Thai-style chicken flatbread to Furikaka French fries to quick Vietnamese chicken pho.
As a second-rate cook (at best), I try to stick to the easy recipes to reduce the introduction of errors--I always start out planning to adhere to a recipe but find myself getting bored or distracted and skipping a step or adding too much of one element or the other--after all, if a teaspoon of garlic is good, how about a tablespoon?--and that's the end of what could have been a great meal.
Three we've tried and liked:
Miso ramen with all the trimmings, which in this case, includes hardboiled egss
Healthy Chinese chicken wraps, with all the basics of any wrap, with an extra flavor of grapes and almonds
Simple bok(!) choy and snow peas, a personal favorite that is next to impossible to mess up.
All were easy to put together and all turned out as expected, even if they didn't look quite as attractive as the book portrays.
I've never been a big fan of tofu and my gringa stomach fiercely objects to chiles, so I won't be trying a few of these recipes.
The good news is that there's such a great variety of choices that even balking at a few recipes won't leave you feeling limited.
This cookbook is author Jaden Hair's first but I'm sure we'll see more from her. You don't have to be a specialist or have fancy tastes to enjoy this book or her ideas.
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