Childhood meal: fish and tomato

Tonight, I decided to make a simple, tasty dinner to replicate my mom’s fish and tomato dish, something she prepared for me and my sisters pretty often when we were kids. She loves her fish, and so do I!

My mom prefers her fish deep fried, her tomato heavy with soy sauce, and just a spritz of lemon. I made a few modifications: I baked the fillet drizzled in sesame oil, was more generous with my lemon, and added green onion for color. A little different than what my mom is used to, but I think she’d like it.

Tomato and green onion dressed in soy sauce and lemon
Tomato and green onion dressed in soy sauce and lemon


Baked swai fillet drizzled in sesame oil and green onion with rice
Swai fillet baked and drizzled generously in sesame oil and green onion with white rice

Eggplant Parmesan

Looking for a hearty recipe? Thanks to Chef DJ Reverse’s impulsive purchase of a great-looking eggplant and great research on, I had one of the tastiest homemade veggie dinners this side of the 405, just as good as my mom’s amazing pinakbet (a Pilipino dish also featuring eggplant, which I recommend!).

1 eggplant, cut into 3/4 inch slices
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
8 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces ricotta cheese
6 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
4 cups pasta sauce


  1. Sprinkle both sides of the eggplant slices with salt. Place slices in a colander, and place a dish underneath the colander to capture liquid that will sweat out of the eggplant. Allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta, mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Mix in egg and basil.
  3. Rinse the eggplant in cold water until all salt is removed. In a large skillet, heat 4 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Place one layer of eggplant in the pan, brown each side. Repeat with remaining eggplant slices, using additional oil if necessary.
  4. In a 9×13 inch baking dish, evenly spread 1 1/2 cups of spaghetti sauce. Arrange a single layer of eggplant slices on top of the sauce. Top the eggplant with 1/2 of the cheese mixture. Repeat layering process until all the eggplant and cheese mixture is used. Pour remaining sauce on top of layers, and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.
  5. Bake 30 to 45 minutes in the preheated oven, until sauce is bubbly.

California Strawberry Festival

I know it’s officially summertime when strawberries are at its sweetest. So, for me, the California Strawberry Festival in my hometown, Oxnard, is the perfect marker for my favorite season.

I really only go to the festival for the food, which is a great reason to go to any festival, in my opinion. Strawberry beer, strawberry pizza, strawberry wine, chocolate covered giant strawberries, and of course, good ol’ plain strawberries. I recommend the festival if you don’t mind all the unhealthy food but if not, you at least have to try the strawberry pizza…

But you’ll have to wait until next year. It’s hosted every 3rd weekend in May, so get your tummy ready!


Hester Street Fair LA

I was a fan of SuChin Pak when she was an MTV correspondent way back in the day. Now, I’ve rediscovered her as co-founder of the Hester Street Fair, which is debuting in LA this summer.

Two years ago, when the Hester Street Fair unveiled its festival of food and crafts in Lower East Side of New York City, the fair set its eyes on Los Angeles. On June 2nd, the Hester Street Fair will debut on Hollywood and Vine between the hours of 11 am to 7 pm. This event is gearing up to feature bites of foods from food trucks and restaurants, a perfect fit for its theme of Bite Size Food and Craft Festival. The event is free, so for more info visit: – Haute Living

Summertime is the time for festivals and fairs, so add this to your list! You’ll have 4 chances to check it out – June 2, July 7, August 18, and August 25, each with its own flavor and theme. Ideally, I’d love to go to all of them, though I may have to prioritize the Hollywood Night Market (July 7, 4PM-10PM) where there’ll be some good homemade beer to taste and eclectic shopping to enjoy.

Shall we?

Maharlika Filipino Moderno

My method to explore any new city is to explore its culinary offerings, as I’m sure it is for many, many travelers. Under that, I love exploring the city’s Filipino cuisine, if any. In LA, there’s no real presence of my mother land’s cuisine save food trucks who’ve really gotten it down (White Rabbit, Manila Machine, Tapa Boy…). New York, on the other hand, has a true gem of an ethnic restaurant at 1st Ave and 7th St – Maharlika Filipino Moderno.

Their brunch menu is simply a play on the American brunch menu – instead of Eggs Benedict, you have Eggs Benigno (my uncle’s name!); instead of Eggs Florentine, you have Eggs Imelda. They’re mostly known for their chicken and ube waffle, but I was a sucker for their Pampangan-style sizzling sisig with egg. Sisig is a tasty medley of pig ears, snout, cheek, and belly, and oooh my it was heavenly! I paired it with their version of a mimosa called Hilda Koronel (kalamansi honey and sparkling wine).

The restaurant decor is filled with familiar Filipino staples like The Last Supper and the giant wooden spoon and fork. At the same time, it wasn’t obsessively or excessively patriotic – a great balance between contemporary American style and traditional Filipino tastes.

And finally, the service was excellent. We had a cute East Asian man who had a great Tagalog accent despite only having the capacity to learn one word a day.

A must-visit on your next trip to NYC!

Banana bread

Going grocery shopping tonight so I thought I might just bake a loaf of banana bread, which I’ve been craving for the longest time. I just had to wait for my bananas to over-ripen, and it’s finally time to bake! I used this recipe a couple times before. I forgot where I’d gotten it so long ago, but it’s super easy and the results make my taste buds, olfactory organs, and tummy happy. Try it!


4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup walnuts (or according to your taste), finely cut


Preheat oven to 350ºF. Mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour and mix. Finally, fold in walnuts. Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool in a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve with love!