I met Jaden Hair on the internet.
I just love saying that. And it’s true. My first introduction to Jaden was stumbling onto her website, which—all the way back in the dark ages of 2007—was just as stunning as she was. I knew Jaden had been on television, and as a fledgling food blogger I was intimidated (and a bit awed) by her crisp, vivid photography and her undeniable gorgeousness. So I put her into the category of People I’ll Admire From Afar, Thank You Very Much, never really imagining that we’d ever cross paths in real life.
By 2008, Jaden and I had struck up a friendship via email. Food blogging was a smaller community back then and we wound up consulting with each other about this and that. A year or so later, we wound up together at a food conference. Elise Bauer (of simplyrecipes.com), Jaden, and I had crammed ourselves into the back of a small taxi in San Francisco, and somewhere along the way our driver ran a red light and we were almost completely sideswiped by another car. We always (somewhat nervously!) joke about that harrowing experience being the first time we met. But in fact, that night was the beginning of a forever friendship.
That’s how I know Jaden. Now let me tell you what I know about Jaden. She’s ridiculously full of life, with a laugh that can be heard four states away.
She’s up for anything—I’ve never proposed a plan or a get-together that Jaden wasn’t excited about. She’s unfathomably creative. And she’s an accomplished businesswoman, with ideas and ambition that would wear me out within a week. But most of all, she loves her husband Scott and their two boys, Andrew and Nathan, more than life itself.
And then there’s Jaden’s food, which is not only magazine-worthy and photogenic, but also tremendously delicious. Her attention to detail—not just in how the food looks, but how it tastes—means every bite you put in your mouth will be a transcendent experience. I remember whipping up Jaden’s Beef with Broccoli for the first time and being astounded at not only how simple it was to prepare and how yummy it was, but how perfectly thought-out all the quantities of ingredients were. Where I would have sloshed in soy sauce and thrown in other ingredients willy-nilly, Jaden allowed for a precise amount of soy sauce, cornstarch, and other ingredients so that not a single drop went to waste or was unused. This is a bonus of Jaden’s recipes: You know you’ll only use what you need.
In Steamy Kitchen’s Healthy Asian Favorites
, Jaden brings down to earth all the irresistible Asian recipes that many of us love ordering in restaurants but could never imagine making at home. Everything from a simple Egg Drop and Tomato Soup all the way up to a Salmon Honey Teriyaki and even an impressive Chinese Hot Pot Party is presented in a straightforward way, using ingredients that most anyone can get at a supermarket. Simple instructions for making luscious stocks, perfect steamed rice, and yummy dumplings ensure that the basics are covered.
As Jaden’s friend, I loved her first cookbook, which was released a few years ago. But as a home cook and lover of simple Asian recipes, I am absolutely devouring this one. It makes Asian cooking possible for real home cooks like me, and it challenges me to tackle new frontiers in my kitchen.
But most of all, it inspires me.
And knowing Jaden like I do, I’m pretty sure that will make her day.
The Pioneer WomanTofu-Mushroom Miso Soup
Want to know the secret to Asian eternal youth and longevity? Soup for breakfast! The Chinese enjoy hearty soups and porridges in the morning; and in Japan, a traditional breakfast includes miso soup. This is my power breakfast: quick miso soup with tofu, fresh vegetables, sliced mushrooms, and an egg stirred in. Serves 4
4 cups dashi (page 14) or vegetable stock (page 11)
6 ounces firm tofu, cubed
4 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 handful leafy vegetables, like baby bok choy, napa cabbage, spinach, or kale, coarsely chopped
1 egg, whisked
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
4 tablespoons miso paste
In a saucepan, bring the dashi to a boil. Add the tofu, mushrooms, and vegetables. While stirring the dashi, slowly pour in the whisked egg. Cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Ladle about ½ cup of the hot dashi into a bowl with the miso paste. Use a fork or whisk to blend the miso paste. Pour all of the miso into the pot and stir gently. Top with green onions and serve immediately.
Pssst . . . it’s great for lunch or dinner too! Just add in some noodles, pasta, or cooked rice.
Excerpted from Steamy Kitchen's Healthy Asian Favorites by Jaden Hair. Copyright © 2013 by Jaden Hair. Excerpted by permission of Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.