So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

Tag Archives: asian cooking

New link added – Steamy Kitchen

Are you a foodie? Do you like food porn photography? Need some upscale recipes to kickstart your rather tired kitchen repertoire?

Have I got the blog for you – “Steamy Kitchen”.

Jaden Hair is a Tampa-based food writer and personality who captures the joy of the kitchen through words and pictures. Her colorful site is rife with her own photography, and professional quality food porn it is. Her use of focal planes really highlights and focuses the attention on the main elements of the dish. She’s a Canon 40D gal for the moment (I’m a 20D dude myself, but my camera has been dead for almost a year now, and I just don’t have the bucks to send it back to Canon for repair). Here’s an example of how good she makes even the simplest dish look:

Photo of Baked Parmesan Garlic Chicken Wings © Jaden Hair 

Note the nice bokeh (the blurred, out-of focus background) – the shape and color of the basil makes a nice counterpoint to the foreground shape. This recipe is duly credited to  PizzAmore, Mount Dora, Florida so it’s clear that not only does she concoct her own recipes, she shares bits of her world with the rest of the world. Note the very subtle use of Photoshop. The photo is sharpened just so; the natural tonal balance preserved.

She’s spunky and fun to read and the site is really easy on the eyes. I recommend this blog to all latent and overt foodies in my audience.

Here’s one of the many reasons that I’m becoming besotted with this site:

Random Stuff

Confucius say:

1. One who has harmony in seasonings need no recipe. Know basic combinations of seasonings in types of cuisines Chinese: soy, sugar, wine, sesame oil Japanese: mirin, soy, sake

2. She who marinates meats – even a quick 10 minutes – will be rewarded with flavorful dish

3. Hot Wokky = No Stikky

4. Cooking not only taste. Use all 5 senses.

5. It is honorable to share your food with friends. Cook more than enough and bring to hungry neighbor.

Ok, ok, Confucious really didn’t say that. I made that shit up.

Oh yeah:

Legal Blah-Blah

Recipes, videos, photographs and text on by Steamy Kitchen, Inc. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Attribution: You must attribute the work in the manner specified by me (author/licensor), but not in any way suggests that I endorse you or your use of my work.

Non-Commercial: You’re prohibited from using my work (photographs, text, and recipes) for commercial purposes.

No Derivative Works: You may not alter, transform my work.

  • For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of my work. The best way to do this is with a link back to this web page.
  • Any of the above conditions can be waived if you get permission from me (the copyright holder).

Violate this and forever be cursed by the food gods – your souffles will never rise and eggs will always be rotten”.

End of Legal Blah-Blah

First of all, non-commercial. So far at least. So no problems there.

I would never presume that Jaden Hair endorses this blog. Until now, I’m sure that it’s unknown to her. I imagine that after she examines it, it will stay that way.

I admit to having altered her banner to make it fit. I’m hoping that this affront will only cause the miso in my fridge to turn (as if the long-expired expiration date hasn’t helped that along).

Already often cursed by the food gods, I only acknowledge all of this legal blah-blah out of courtesy and fear of court action.

PS, having mentioned gluten-free issues here in the past (no I don’t suffer from it myself), I note that the author is gluten-free aware and labels recipes that are, or can easily be made gluten-free with the initials GF. 

PPS, she’s also written a cookbook. Perhaps I will get a copy and review it in a future “Cookbook of the Day” post.

Let’s raise a glass of fresh lemongrass ginger ale as we welcome her to ye ole blogroll! 

 Photo by John Revisky, Sarasota Magazine 

Cookbook of the day – Asian Grills


Asian Grills

by Alexandra Greeley

Publisher Doubleday; 1st edition (April 1, 1993)

ISBN 10: 0385422121

ISBN 13: 978-0385422123

The book is a sleeper. Unassuming at first glance, this cookbook actually covers virtually all of Asia, including Indonesia/Bali, Malaysia, Singapore, the Treasure islands, Laos, Myanmar and, of course Thailand, Japan, India, China, Hong Kong and Korea. She even visits Macau and the Philipines, both usually left out of the discussion of Asian foods.

Grilling has always been an essential part of all of these cuisines and author Greeley surveys each area with a nice mix of dishes, not all of which are necessarily grills. she offers a personal perspective and knowledge of each culture and her thumbnail sketch of each area is valuable to those of us who will never visit.

She has a well-rounded glossary and she draws distinctions between similar ingredients in different countries, warning when substituting one for the other will dramatically change the character of the dish. She distinguishes between Singaporean and Malaysian Laksa, for instance, although she only gives the recipe for the former. It would have  been nice to have both recipes. Her Thai green curry seems reasonable (I haven’t made it) and I would have liked to see a red curry recipe as well. She has a red curry dish, a grilled duck recipe, but it uses a commercial red curry paste. Of course, Thai curries are usually used more in “stews/soups” type of preparations, but it’s nice to see it used for grilled dishes as well.

I’m anxious to try the Grilled Balinese Duck, a banana leaf wrapped smoky/spicy duck cooked directly on low coals for 8 – 10 hours.

I highly recommend seeking this book out, It will expand your horizons greatly and any of these dishes can be cooked on a decent sized kettle grill. Well-written and well-researched, this is an enjoyable survey of the world of Asian grilling.

Balinese grilled duck. Photo by Jean Marc D at Yelp.

My foolproof way of cooking basmati rice

When I watch Top Chef, I’m amazed how many times rice is the downfall of a cheftestant.

I rarely have to cook mass quantities of rice, so it’s possible that it’s more difficult to cook rice for 10 or more people. But if you have to cook rice for less than 10 people, rice isn’t all that difficult, especially with basmati, my favorite rice (jasmine rice, a close cousin, is a close second).

First of all, for basmati, it’s very important to rinse well. You need to get rid of a little of the starch that’s on the outside, plus, occasionally you’ll find small grit and tiny stones that have to be eliminated. You need to rinse 4 or 5 times, or until the rinse water is clear and not cloudy.

I usually don’t measure, but most people think that a cup of cooked rice per person works pretty well. That’s about a half cup of raw rice.

The traditional ratio of rice to water is 2 parts water to 1 part rice. But I don’t worry about measuring. Here’s my trick, as taught to me by an accomplished Indian cook – add the rinsed rice to a pot and add enough water to be one inch above the rice.

I add some salt and ghee (although you can certainly use butter or vegetable oil – for an even more exotic flavor, you can add a dash of light colored sesame oil as well, but only a couple of dashes, because it’s quite strong in flavor). You put it on high heat and bring to a roiling boil. As soon as it hits the roiling boil, immediately turn down the heat to a simmer and cover.

Don’t peek until you get to the 12 minute mark. If you have a small amount of rice (say for 2 or 4 people), the rice will just about be finished. You’ll probably need to cook for another couple of minutes. How do you tell if it’s done? There will be steam holes on the top when it’s close. Take a chopstick and carefully open up the middle of the rice and expose the bottom. If there’s still a little water in the bottom, you’ll need to cover and continue to cook for at least 2 more minutes. Never stir the rice. This will make it gummy. Check again after 2 minutes. If all of the water has evaporated, you’re done! If not, cover and check every minute.

If you are cooking larger amounts, you’ll probably have to cook a little longer. You still want to check at the 12 minute mark just to see how close you are. You’ll basically be judging by the amount of water left in the bottom. After you cook a few batches, you’ll get a feel for how long it will take to evaporate the remaining water.

I like to leave just a tiny amount of water in the bottom, cover and remove from the heat. The rice will continue to cook off the remaining water even when it’s off of the heat if you keep it covered. If you do this, you won’t risk scorching the bottom of the rice.

When serving, take a large spoon and scoop it out, trying not to disturb it too much. It should be light and fluffy without having to “fluff it up” with a fork as is sometimes suggested.

If you follow these instructions, you’ll never have a problem with basmati rice.

Andrea Nguyen’s Sriracha taste-off

I’m fond of the bastardized version of the original Thai chili sauce that’s found in Asian restaurants everywhere (the ubiquitous squirt bottle is actually a Vietnamese interpretation that’s actually made here in the States, as she points out). You know the bottle – it’s the one with the rooster on the bottle. I like using it in tandem with sambal, that rough-textured hotter, oily sauce that you often find on the table. The sambal has a more direct, hotter flavor and “Sriracha” is a bit more laid back. Unlike her, I do like adding it to my pho, although I’m discrete with both chile sauces. I don’t like overwhelming the delicious broth, but I like tailoring it to my own tastes.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing what chile sauces I can find at my local market and I hope I can find the “Shark” brand that she discusses.

Another great, informative post from Ms. Nguyen. She really does have one of the best foodie sites on the web and I’m looking forward to her dumplings book.


Photo courtesy of Andrea Nguyen,

Cookbook of the day – nobu the cookbook




by Nobuyuki Matuhisha

Kodansha International

  • ISBN-10: 4770025335
  • ISBN-13: 978-4770025333
  • With an introduction by his business partner Robert DeNiro, this lavishly illustrated book illuminates Nobu (as he and his flagship restaurant are known) and his forward-thinking take on Japanese and Asian cuisine.  As Alain Ducasse, famed three starred chef succinctly and accurately proclaims on the inner dust cover, “Everytime I have a meal there, I’m seduced by the diversity and the qualtiy of the produce, as well as the novelty and precision of the dishes Nobu puts together. Every detail gives real pleasure!”

    The book starts with his personal journey and continues with with an informative section entitled “Ingredients, techniques, equipment and measurements”. It concludes with a section on his various sauces, a rundown on Japanese beverages and a profile of his various ventures. 

    The numerous highly detailed and enticing full page color photographs of the dishes will give a cook an appreciation for the structure and artistry that Nobu applies to his dishes and will hopefully inspire the cook to new heights of  plating and dish creation creativity. The principles of balance, contrast in both color and texture and the attention to detail can inform any style of cuisine, even the simplest and most humble type.

    And, if you’ve ever wondered how to dress and filet an eel (a hint, you’ll need a hammer and a nail), this book is for you.

    This book is beautiful enough to be a coffee table display book, but you’ll want to make sure that it isn’t a stranger to your kitchen countertop.

    There has been a bit of a backlash against Nobu since he’s expanded his empire to other continents. This is to be expected because, frankly, how do you clone someone’s personal artistic sensibility and culinary skills? Once you turn your kitchen over to another chef, you’re going to, by definition, dilute your vision. 

    But that doesn’t alter the utility of this cookbook. You’ll learn by looking as well as reading.

    Here is one of his famed constructions. Simple, with a sense of balance in both flavor, color and form. You’ll find the recipe in this cookbook.


    Black cod with miso

    There are only 6 ingredients if you count the ingredients of the Nobu-style Saikyo Miso. It’s the very model of simplicity and clarity. Actually, this photo adds a green leaf and another ingredient not included in the cookbook recipe – the two small truffle-esque items that prop up the hajikami (ginger pickled in sweet vinegar). The ginger isn’t rolled in sesame seeds in the cookbook either. But you can still appreciate the simplicity of the dish, even though two more things have been added to the mix. Note that these items are added in keeping to the original sense of balance.