Tag Archives: Filipino food

The Sweet Taste of Independence: Seattle Bakery Pop-Ups

I’m celebrating independence and self-determination this 4th of July weekend by supporting some of my favorite small businesses and entrepreneurs in Seattle.

On Saturday, July 2 from 11am -5pm, Chera Amlag and the Hood Famous Bakeshop crew will hold a dessert pop-up at The Station coffee shop on Beacon Hill.

Chera is a woman after my own heart. She has combined two of my favorite things of all time: cheesecake and ube (a purple yam commonly used in Filipino desserts). Along with its classic ube cheesecake, Hood Famous will offer ube crinkle cookies, ube polvoron, and some new treats, including strawberry calamansi marshmallows and Vietnamese coffee cheesecake.

Chera’s good friend and talented chef, Tarik Abdullah, will host his own sweet pop-up on July 3 from 5pm-9pm at Refresh Frozen Desserts and Espresso on Capitol Hill. The Rose & Blossom pop-up will feature Moroccan-inspired desserts and music by Proh Mic.

Pursue some happiness this weekend by buying local sweet treats!

Hood Famous

Rose & Blossom

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Filed under Events, Filipino food, So right, Sweet

Recipe – Kabocha Squash and Kale in Coconut Milk

Kabocha squash and kale in coconut milk

I don’t really write recipes–I’d rather spend my time cooking. But my friends Dawn and Helen asked me to put this one together. It’s inspired by RG Enriquez of Astig Vegan, a blogger you should definitely check out if you want to explore vegan and/or Filipino food.

This recipe is vegan, but you could modify it to meet your dietary needs or taste preferences. It can stand alone as a main dish or as a hearty side. Eat it with rice and bagoong if you’re feeling Filipino.

Kabocha Squash and Kale in Coconut Milk 


  • 1 tablespoon vegan margarine (or your fat of choice)
  • 1/2 an onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch kale, middle stems removed and leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 4-6 cups kabocha squash, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces (half of a small-to-medium squash)
  • 2 14 oz. cans unsweetened coconut milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Melt vegan margarine over medium-high heat in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add chopped onion and cook 3-5 minutes until soft and translucent. Put in minced garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in kale and cook for 5 minutes until kale is wilted. Place chopped squash in pan, pour in coconut milk, and add salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, and then turn heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. You’ll know it’s done when you can easily pierce the squash with a fork. Taste and add more salt and pepper to your liking.

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Filed under Filipino food, Recipes, Savory

Pinterest Introduces Place Pins

I work in digital marketing, and the pace of change is so rapid, it’s easy to be blasé about new features and functionality especially when it comes to social networking sites.

But I have to say that I’m really enjoying Pinterest’s new Place Pins. Continue reading

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What’s On My Phone Wednesdays: Food and Sh*t

Geo, one half of Seattle hip hop duo Blue Scholars, is a fierce lyricist and tireless community activist. The man can also cook.

He and his wife, Chera, have started holding monthly pop up dinners called “Food & Sh*t” at Inay’s Asian Pacific Cuisine. The menus feature inventive riffs on traditional Filipino dishes and other dishes that reflect Geo’s background and his family’s personal tastes.

Other than my mom’s, the sisig lumpia served as an appetizer at the dinner in September may be the best lumpia I’ve ever had. Sisig is a Filipino dish made from pig’s head and liver, or as Anthony Bourdain described it, “the strangely addictive, sizzling melange of hacked up pork face…oh, sweet symphony of pig parts.”

Sisig lumpia

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Filed under Events, Filipino food, NaBloPoMo 2013, Savory, So right, Sweet, What's on My Phone

My Seattle Food Picks for IFBC Attendees

The International Food Blogger Conference is just a week away, and I wanted to share a few of my favorite places to eat in Seattle with everyone coming from out of town. I am a proud Seattleite, and I love showing off my city to visitors!

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Filed under Events, Filipino food, Reviews, Savory, So right, Sweet

The Agony and Ecstasy of Adobo

When I first heard about Adobofest, I instantly knew it was an event for me.

First, it’s a community block party in my beloved Beacon Hill neighborhood in Seattle. Second, it’s hosted by Geo and Sabzi of Blue Scholars, one of my favorite hip hop groups. And finally, this event is all about adobo, a dish near and dear to my heart.

Adobo is the one dish that every Filipino should know how to make. It can take many forms—saucy, succulent or crisp—but all involve the Filipino trinity of vinegar, soy sauce and garlic and is traditionally made with pork or chicken.

The other thing about Adobofest that excited me was the adobo cook-off. Anyone could enter their favorite adobo recipe and cook it for the judges and everyone else attending Adobofest. The winner would receive bragging rights, a trophy, $100 cash prize, and an invitation to have his or her adobo featured in the “Jose Rizal” sandwich at Beacon Ave Sandwiches.

I really wanted to enter a vegan and gluten-free adobo so that my friends—and others—who have these kinds of diets would be able to experience this quintessential Filipino dish.


One of my vegan adobo attempts

I’ve made vegan adobo before, and while it tasted pretty good, it wasn’t competition grade. I tinkered with a few recipes, but with the contest deadline looming, I realized that none of my vegan adobos would withstand Filipino scrutiny (which can be TOUGH).

While I was disappointed not to enter, I look forward to tasting the other adobos (and refining my vegan and gluten-free adobo for next year). The top 3 vote-getting dishes chosen by the Adobofest audience will advance to a final round live-tasting where the winner will be chosen by a judges panel.

Adobofest is Sunday, August 18 at The Station coffee shop on Beacon Hill (16th Ave South, Seattle, Washington 98144) from 12-5pm. Prices are: $6 for 3 tastes and a drink, $10 for 5 tastings and a drink, or $25 for all you can eat and drink.

For more details, visit the Adobofest event page on Facebook.

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Filed under Events, Filipino food

Vegan Filipino food—not a contradiction in terms

My friend Helen, who is vegan, and I like to joke that Filipino food—the food that I grew up eating—is the least vegan cuisine out there. It’s meat with a side of meat and some rice.

However, Helen remained curious about Filipino food and is a perseverant cook. She surprised me by making her own karioka, which is essentially a set of Filipino doughnuts on a stick. It turns out that karioka is vegan.

That piqued my interest, and I started wondering if there were other vegan Filipino foods. One day Helen and I were chatting on Twitter about a recipe by Astig Vegan for vegan lumpia, one of the quintessential Filipino foods.

I was surprised to find that lumpia wrappers are vegan. I had been sure that there they were made with eggs, but they aren’t. This revelation opened up a world of possibilities.

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Filed under Filipino food, For the Glow, Savory, So right, Sweet

Food for Thought writing contest winner

Congrats to Juliette Kaplan, the winner of the Bumbershoot “Food for Thought” writing contest. Her poem below deals with food and identity and fitting in.

I was the kid
who brought her lunch
in sticky

Tupperware was not cool.

When people asked me,
“Where are your parents from”
Like a well-rehearsed robot, I would recite,
“My mom is from the Philippines,
and my dad is from the Former Soviet Union.”
I thought he was from the Ukraine
But I just said what I heard from my mom.
Needless to say,
they were foreign,
with no experience with lunch time protocol,
Operational standards,
Social responsibility,
Or Peanut butter and jelly.

Oh how I longed for gushers and handisnacks,
Dunkaroos and chex mix.
But no.
Why buy special food for lunch, when last night’s dinner waits to be re-warmed?

My food did not look like colorful plastic jewels,
or glorious, cheesy orange goo.
I wanted to eat commercials, my parents fed me…
Eyeroll, please!

My mother’s chicken adobo, that she marinated for days
in a recipe that endured Spanish colonization,
Japanese occupation,
and American immigration.
Babushka’s mashed potatoes and Russian meat patties
that lie somewhere between hamburgers and meatloaf…
“What are you eating Julie?”
The dreaded question.
“It’s called catletka, it’s this Russian thing,” I would grumble, as I bowed my head in shame.

Or maybe it was
Similar to a lychee fruit, it came in cans of heavy syrup
and was transferred to Tupperware
for me to carefully balance
so it did not leak,
and make me as sticky and unappealing to other kids
as my bulky Tupperware lunch was to me.

Oh how I longed for a nifty paper sack…
But why on earth would we buy paper sacks,
when we have plenty of plastic ones
from the grocery store?
Tupperware did not fit nicely
into nifty paper sacks.

Lines of children
with lunch boxes with Velcro
and Disney pictures and superheroes
and a plethora of nifty paper sacks!
And then me,
trying to hide
my crumply white plastic grocery bag-
The handles tied into… not even a friendly bow,
but stiff, alert rabbit ears,
conspicuous, and scared,
Giving me away!
So desperate, so uncool.

“There’s no microwave at school, DAD!”
A lousy and fruitless attempt to be sure,
How could they ever understand?
“That’s ridiculous!” he said,
“Is there a kitchen?
Then there’s a microwave!”

I hated my stupid Tupperware,
and my quick, covert trips across the cafeteria
with the regretful request
to reheat
my uncool lunch—
that was really last night’s dinner.

But at least I dodged
Direct exclusion
when the trading frenzy erupted—
Fruit-by-the-foot thrown across the table,
egg salad, on white bread
flying overhead.
My Tupperware-encased,
Preservative-free, non-English words, did not fly among these kids…
Oh Tupperware, you were the source of my social demise.

But I forgive you, Mom and Dad,
for the years of anguish I endured
in the closed mind of the American school lunch room,
unwelcome to aromas of heritage and love.
Because now I’ll take Tupperware,
With delicious delicacies from your respective homelands
over boring PB and J,
any day.

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Filed under Filipino food, Food and race

9 food resolutions for 2009

1. Cook a Filipino meal at least once a month.
My son just turned a year old, and I want to start introducing him to a key part of his heritage. But let’s be honest–this resolution is mostly for me. I miss Filipino food! I recently realized that I now only eat Filipino dishes at parties or restaurants. I rarely cook Filipino cuisine at home. I want Filipino food to be part of my family’s life every day. But I know I have to start slowly. My initial goal is once a month so that this resolution can be a successful one.

2. Inventory the contents of my freezer…
My husband makes a delicious cranberry sauce that friends and family frequently request for their Thanksgiving meals. So he made a big batch, gave a bunch away and froze the leftovers, which have been hanging out in our freezer–for two years.

3. …And figure out what’s in my cupboards.
Cleaning out the cupboard is akin to going through your closet. You rediscover old treasures (a pencil skirt/green lentils), find things you didn’t realize you had (cashmere gloves/Cincinatti chili mix) and re-live some mistakes (leopard print leggings/Manwich).

With the economy being what it is, food prices aren’t going down any time soon, and it’s time to make the most of what you have. But first you have to know what you have and where it is!

4. Use kitchen gadgets or give them away.
My husband and I put a mandoline on our wedding registry with ambitions of making our own potato chips, gratins and other dishes that required cutting foods ridiculously thin. How many times have we used the mandoline since we got it almost three years ago? Exactly once. And it’s still in its original box.

5. Learn how to cut a whole chicken into pieces.
It’s cheaper to buy a whole chicken and cut it up yourself. This task usually falls to my husband, but I am determined this year to learn what I consider a very basic kitchen skill.

6. Learn how to clean and cook a whole fish.
When I was a kid, my parents cooked fish at least once a week, and most of the time, the fish would be whole with the head and tail intact. Yum! I love eating fish, but I’ve never prepared any that wasn’t filleted. I’m not exactly excited about gutting or scaling a fish, but again, I think this is a skill that all (fish-eating) cooks should have.

7. Get my knives sharpened.
If I’m going to accomplish resolutions #5 and #6, my knives need to be in peak condition!

8. Rely less on recipes.
I yearn to be a more intuitive cook. I want to be able to whip up a great meal with whatever is in my fridge at the moment. I want to just know how to make a great lasagna.

Recipes are a good place to start and get inspiration, and I want to be able to have the confidence to cook on my own.

9. Make ice cream more often.
This year’s Christmas dinner was punctuated by delectable cinnamon ice cream made by my sister-in-law, Yvette. Making ice cream is relatively easy, and it’s something that always impresses people. When you serve homemade ice cream, someone will undoubtedly say, “You made this?” with a mix of wonder and gratitude. And homemade ice cream makes a unique and fabulous gift.

I’ll keep you updated on my food resolutions throughout the year. Here’s to a tasty 2009!


Filed under Filipino food, Food resolutions 2009, Ice cream, Savory, Sweet

Is Filipino food embarrassing?

This is the question “side dish” raised on Chowhound’s Pacific Northwest board in 2002.

The post itself wasn’t very illuminating. The writer claimed that there’s a dearth of Filipino restaurants in Seattle because “Filipinos are the ultimate US wannabees” who are “more likely to open a Jewish deli or burger stand than a Filipino restaurant.” However, over the years, the post has gained an interesting array of comments.

Many posters agreed with the writer that Filipino food, especially the smell of it, is embarrassing. A number of people said embarrassment stemmed from the degradation of Filipino culture that came from colonization. Some claimed that Filipinos have no business sense, and that’s why there are no successful Filipino restaurants. Others simply said that Filipino food doesn’t appeal to the American palate.

The argument that most resonated with me is that Filipinos’ relationship with food is intensely personal. Every Filipino’s recipe for chicken adobo is different and delicious. But most Filipinos only want to eat their adobo, cooked their way.

In the Chowhound post, “missm2u” puts it this way:
“…maybe we don’t have that many restaurants becuz, like soul food, filipino food is very sophisticated and also personal and when it comes down to it, the pancit we like best is the one just like our mom (or dad) made when we were kidz…”

The idea of being embarrassed to eat Filipino food in public totally mystifies me. I’m a second-generation Filipino American, and I feel that this is mostly something first-generation Filipino immigrants experience. The way you feel about yourself manifests itself in your relationship to food. People who are embarrassed by what they eat are embarrassed about some aspect of themselves. I’ve been lucky enough not to have to endure too much ill treatment because of my ethnicity. I know other Filipinos have been taunted about their culture. If people keep taunting you about what you eat, it can be hard to enjoy your food much less feel proud of it.

So are there any good Filipino restaurants in Seattle? I ran across the Chowhound thread when I was researching Kawali Grill, a Filipino restaurant in South Seattle. I went there with my Chinese American husband and a big group of friends who are all Fil-Am.

We ordered a gang of dishes, planning to share everything. So we were disappointed when our food arrived and the portions were small. It was weird that you couldn’t share the entrees because Filipinos eat family style.

I ordered the fish escabeche, which is typically a whole fish fillet covered with a sauce made from onion, garlic, ginger, bell peppers, tomatoes, vinegar and lemon or lime juice. Some people like to make their sauce like bad Chinese restaurant sweet and sour sauce and put pineapples in it. I am not one of those people.

But whoever prepared my fish escabeche at Kawali Grill was! The sauce was not entirely unpleasant, but far too thick and goopy for me. I scraped most of it. The fish was perfectly cooked and tasted great with minimal sauce.

I did get a couple of bites of other dishes including: fresh lumpia, pandan fried chicken and pork inihaw. Hands down, the best dish was the pork inihaw (broiled pork marinated in vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, garlic and hot sauce).

Fried chicken pandan

Fried chicken pandan

Pork inihaw

Pork inihaw

I felt like there was too much ice in my halo halo dessert, which made it hard to mix (the whole point!) but that’s a minor quibble. The ube ice cream in the halo halo more than made up for it.

I want to try more of the dinner menu at Kawali Grill, and I definitely want to go there for breakfast. The restaurant serves a couple varities of Filipino silog breakfasts, which usally involves a fried egg on top of garlic fried rice and a side of meat.

I feel no shame in wanting that.


Filed under Essays, Filipino food, Food and race, Reviews, Savory, Sweet