Jaden Hair is known for her humorous take on cooking, peppering her popular food blog Steamy Kitchen with engaging personal stories (in addition to gorgeous food photos and delicious recipes). In her new Steamy Kitchen Cookbook (Tuttle Publishing, 2009), she serves up 101 Asian recipes that even the most novice of home cooks can master, and she does it with the same charm and personality that her blog and TV followers have come to enjoy.
Asia Society Online recently spoke with Jaden Hair, who also now writes for TLC.com, about her new book.
ASIA SOCIETY ONLINE: Why did you name your blog—and now, your new cookbook—"Steamy Kitchen?"
JADEN HAIR: The name "Steamy Kitchen" just perfectly describes my Mom and me. My mom has been one of the biggest influences in my cooking, and she's always had something cooking in the kitchen. So, the kitchen was always steamy with great food cooking. And "steamy" also describes me—it represents my passionate nature and personality.
ASIA SOCIETY ONLINE: The blog and the cookbook is filled with such gorgeous food photos and you do the photography yourself. Have you always been into food photography?
JH: I knew nothing about photography when I first started my blog! I just figured that the blog would be more interesting if there were actual photos to accompany my posts. So I just started photographing the food I cooked. In the book, the photos were all shot by me at my home. The food is real, no styling... no brushes! After the shoot, we actually eat the food for our family meal.
ASIA SOCIETY ONLINE: Your cookbook focuses on simple Asian recipes, do you think a lot of people still have the misconception that Asian recipes are difficult to recreate at home?
JH: Absolutely. I know some people who automatically think they need a wok for Asian cooking, but you can actually make do with a saute pan. If you don't live near an Asian supermarket, I suggest taking a look at your grocery's 'ethnic' aisle, you'll probably find many ingredients there. In the book, I try to give as many substitutions for ingredients as possible in the recipes. But really, I know that everyone is pretty limited on time so the recipes in the book are for quick cooking and involve little time. Hopefully people realize that Asian cooking can be both simple and delicious.
ASIA SOCIETY ONLINE: How do you feel about being so popular in the food blog circuit?
JH: It's amazing! A lot of the recipes in the book were inspired by the many food bloggers that have become like family. It's also wonderful to finally meet some of the bloggers during the book tour.
ASIA SOCIETY ONLINE: Do you have any favorite recipes from the book?
JH: Yes! I especially love two recipes because my kids personally love them. My kids go crazy for Chocolate Wontons, you can make them from leftover wrappers from when you make regular wontons. They also just love my Grilled Bananas with Chocolate and Toasted Coconut Flakes, and they enjoy helping me make them!
Try Jaden's favorite recipes from the Steamy Kitchen Cookbook:
Grilled Bananas with Chocolate and Toasted Coconut Flakes
Interview by Stephanie Valera, Asia Society Online
The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook is available from the AsiaStore.