Review: The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook

As a child I remember watching evening news footage of what the media referred to as “boat people.”  In reality they were Vietnamese and Thai refugees fleeing the violence in their homelands.  Whether they were running from the Red Menace, a tyrannical government or just tired of having their rice fields carpet-bombed I do not recall.  I do have memories of people on makeshift rafts swamped by waves and Coast Guard choppers and the older generation with their whispered-apprehension about our new neighbors.

A sizable number of those refugees and subsequent generations now call the Gulf Coast home.  The trepidation felt by those older and supposedly wiser than me has since been replace by admiration.  Sure the newcomers look different and their native language is . . . well, foreign, but they have an amazing work ethic and if there is one thing folks on the Third Coast appreciate it is hard work.  Plus their food is exciting!

Though a wok cooker-er from way back, I have done very little with Asian food professionally.  Recently, I had decided to make chicken lollipops with a Thai peanut sauce for a catering job.  I tried to duplicate flavors I had experienced at some of the great Thai restaurants in the area.  It tasted right to me, the rest of the staff loved it but I was still worried.  What if an expert on Thai food were at the wedding?  Each time I do a job like this my reputation as a chef is on the line.  I had to make sure my Thai peanut sauce was right so I whipped out my laptop and shot a quick Tweet to Jaden Hair.  In less than 140 characters she let me know I had it right.

That’s Jaden for you.  That’s why she is so beloved in the food-blogging, cookbook-writing, TV-demo’ing world.  A peaceful spirit is always lurking beneath her bubbly exterior.

It isn’t often that I get to review the work of someone I consider a friend.  Consequently I always worry that I can aptly separate friendship from the task at hand.  In this case, however, I do not have to.  When great chefs like Martin Yan and Ming Tsai praise the Steamy Kitchen Cookbook then I can rest assured that the recipes are technically sound.  And when renowned food writers like the Washington Post’s Kim O’Donnel and Michael Ruhlman give it their approval then is it safe to say the prose is sound as well.

So with objectivity no longer an issue I’ll jump right to what I love about Jaden’s book.  It teaches while it entertains.  Though Jaden was born in Hong Kong, the is not a Chinese cookbook, it is an Asian cookbook featuring flavors from Korea, Thailand, Japan, Vietnam and yes, China.

One lesson is that different cultures in Asia have vastly different cuisines.  Japanese is not Chinese.  Chinese isn’t Korean.  Another lesson that all Americans need to learn is that stuff on the steam table at the Red Dragon Buffet is far from being Chinese food.  It is American food.

steamy-kitchen-cookbookThe Steamy Kitchen Cookbook has 101 authentic or inspired Asian recipes.  It also boasts the most entertaining cookbook introduction I have ever read.  Damned clever, in fact.  And for you picture gawkers, Jaden is big into food porn, too.  Quite the accomplished food photographer, she has packed the 160 pages of the book with tons photos bursting with color and allure.

Jaden makes her home in the Tampa area with her husband, kids and a covey of culinary cohorts.  She can be seen working her gastronomic magic on TV shows like the nationally syndicated Daytime TV Show and NBC’s Today Show.  You can also just drop by the blog that started the whole Steamy Empire by clicking HERE.  Oh, yeah, buy the frickin’ book!

Stop the War on Southern Cuisine!

Bon AppétitApparently, the folks at Bon Appétit didn’t get the memo; the one where the New York media declared 2012 the year of hating Southern Cuisine.  I just received the latest issue of BA today and it is a salute to America’s most import culinary region, the South.

I have often said that the Deep South has a culinary tradition unmatched in the New World.  Dixie is to America what Tuscany is to Italy, what Provence is to France, it is the nation’s gastronomic heart and soul.  And no Madison Avenue smear campaign can ever change that.

Many might think that the current assault on Southern Cuisine stems from the recent revelation that Paula Deen has diabetes.  After all the brainless snobs at 30 Rock and their ilk have certainly crucified her for not revealing her condition until three years after her diagnosis.  Just for the record, Ms. Deen has absolutely no responsibility to disclose any illness she may have.  Anyone who thinks otherwise needs to post the entirety of their medical history online for everyone to read before even thinking to say anything.

But Paula Deen’s illness is just the latest piece of hypocrisy coming from the elitists, yet another salvo of class warfare.  I’m not saying that Southern food doesn’t have it’s faults.  It can be high calorie/high fat.  But eaten in moderation it will never cause diabetes.  Ever.  Plus it’s no higher in fat or calories than the celebrated foods on New York City.

Let’s take a fried chicken dinner – 2 pieces of chicken (one breast, one leg) is roughly 550 calories and 24 grams of fat, mashed potatoes adds 240 calories, 9 grams of fat and the biscuit is another 130 calories and 6 grams of fat.  That’s 920 total calories and 39 grams of fat.  Yep, that’s pretty hefty.

PizzaNow let’s look at one of those giant slices of New York style pizza.  It contains upwards of 7oo calories and nearly 40 grams of fat.  Just one of those famous Coney Island hot dogs has more than 550 calories and a whopping 32 grams of fat.  A big deli-style Reuben has over 900 calories and 60 grams of fat.

None of those numbers include sides.  But since we’re on the subject, which do you think is healthier collard greens or potato chips?  French fries or black eyed peas?  The point is no one cuisine in and of itself is harmful.  The secret to eating healthy is moderation.  If you eat and exercise in moderation you don’t have to count calories or watch your fat intake.  Like Paula said on NBC’s Today Show, “I’ve always said, ‘Practice moderation, y’all.’ I’ll probably say that a little louder now.”

So with that squashed, I think I’ll go fix some fish and grits.

Christmas Gift Ideas for Foodies: Gift Cards

This one almost writes itself.  With Hanukkah in full swing and Christmas just around the corner I know some of you may be wondering what to get that food obsessed relative.  The problem is that you are not obsessed with food so you don’t know what they might want.

Gift CardsWell I have a solution that will help you out with that foodie and anyone else on your gift list that is hard to buy for – gift cards.  Some complain that gift cards are impersonal but I believe they can be some of the most personal gifts you can give.  When someone gives me a gift card it is like saying, “I really want to give you exactly what you want but I don’t know what that is so here go get it; it’s on me.”  That’s cool.

I order my gift cards from because they have a great assortment of shops and, admittedly because I have a friend who works for them who turned me on to how neat a service they have.  They have a dozen vendors to choose from and you can pay for everything at the same site.  Three of those shops are perfect for your freaky food obsessed friend – Amazon, JC Penny’s and the most obvious, Omaha Steaks.  Amazon and Penny’s have all kinds of cooking equipment, appliances and toys to choose from while Omaha Steaks has, well steaks.

And while you are there you can get cards for those other hard-to-shop-for folks on your list because they also have cards for Zappos, Tigerdirect, Dell, Circuit city, Champs and Foot Locker.  These email gift cards never expire and can be redeemed for millions of products. And best of all you can get cash back when you buy hunting, fishing & camping gear as well as clothing, computers, books & home improvement products!

Follow Stuart via “the Online”

Sip & Chew with Mike and Stu

Add to Google


Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

Stu’s Latest Kindle Single is Just $2.99

Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up


Subscribe to this blog

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

ISO 9000 Culinary Arts Certification