Tag Archives: food

Lumpiang Gulay (Vegetable Spring Roll)

It sure has been a while. Since I’ve last posted, a lot has been going on in my family (more information on my personal blog), and it’s been an important reminder of the importance of family.

Family is an interesting concept. I could say my family is my mom, my dad, and my little brother Jude, but there’s so much more to the word “family” that transcends just a list of the people in my household. To me, family is just as much about heritage, traditions, collective experiences, and shared meals as it is about the people I live with. And one meal we’ve shared a lot is lumpia, a type of fried spring roll originally of Chinese origin but is now very common in the Philippines and Indonesia. (The word “gulay” just refers to the fact it’s made of vegetables, which is perfect for your Meatless Mondays!)

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Partially because I’m only half Filipino and partially because I live in the United States, I’ve always felt disconnected from my Filipino heritage even though it shapes a large part of who I am. That’s why I find it so important for me to continue trying new Filipino food, learning how to make certain recipes, and keeping these recipes documented somewhere. At the end of the day, even small recipes like these are a part of what makes up my family—a part of the heritage and traditions passed down through my mother’s side.

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My mom first introduced lumpiang gulay to me while I was in middle school, and when we decided to not eat meat for a period of time, it made for a great meal that fit our dietary preferences at the time. Even though I still do eat meat (although I may go vegetarian again once I leave for college next year), lumpiang gulay is still something we continue to eat in my home.

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Now that my grandma from the Philippines has been in town, I’ve also realized that she and my mom have very different ways of eating lumpiang gulay, a huge shock to me since I always assumed the way my mom ate it was the normal way. My mom likes to cut into the lumpia lengthwise and pour in the garlic sauce that way, whereas my grandma eats it the “normal” way—dipping it into the sauce and eating it like any other spring roll. I personally think the way my grandma eats it makes way more sense, but for some reason my mom continues to eat it the way she does.

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Mom’s Spaghetti

Ever since I was young, I’ve always thought that my mom makes the best spaghetti ever. And I do mean that very seriously—nothing compares to the orange heaven that is my mom’s spaghetti. A few years ago, a family friend from Italy invited us over for dinner. While she made some of the most delicious pastas I’ve ever had, my mom’s spaghetti still reigns supreme.

In the Philippines, spaghetti is seen more as a snack than a full-fledged meal, and it’s usually very sweet when compared to the spaghetti we eat here in the United States. That’s why if you go to Jollibee or a McDonald’s in the Philippines, you’ll notice the spaghetti will taste totally different! (And, yes! They have spaghetti!) My mom says that every Filipino person has a different way of making their spaghetti. Hers has more garlic, is less sweet, and uses bacon instead of hot dogs. But for what it lacks in sugar, it makes up for in flavor.

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In the summer before ninth grade, I took a cooking class as part of Senior DECATS, a selective summer program only available to academically talented students who attended a Catholic middle school. It was my first real exposure to cooking—and also where I learned I enjoy tasting food more than making it! For our biggest group cooking challenge, we had to prepare the best spaghetti we could.

Well, actually, we were told we needed to find one of the teaching assistants who had been hidden in the park across the street, with the first group getting to pick their ingredients first—much like a MasterChef competition. But that’s a story my thirteen-, almost fourteen-year-old self told on my personal blog, Kuya’s Notebook, after it happened, complete with blurry iPhone pictures and full recollections of middle school students trying to get out of cleaning for the day. Continue reading

Welcome to Bok Choy and Broccoli! (Yes, we’re back!)

Wow, it sure has been a while, hasn’t it?

It’s been a little over a year since I last posted on here, and a lot has changed. I decided to move back to WordPress.com and stop paying for hosting. A bunch of craziness has happened in my personal life, which I’d rather not get into here. I’ve stopped being a vegetarian/pescatarian/self-righteous-“plant-eater”-who-actually-still-eats-meat… whatever I was! But most importantly, I’ve figured out what I want from Bok Choy and Broccoli.

Food is a universally important aspect of my culture, your culture, our world’s culture. We may like and eat very different things—and we may start combining foods to make something new!—but at its very core, food is something that brings us together. It shapes us.

Bok Choy and Broccoli is my story told through food. It’s about the story of my family, the story of our shared experiences, and the story of who I am, who I have become, and who I am becoming—just with more food pictures.

This blog started as a way to document the foods that my mom made in our house: mostly some type of Asian food that she put her own twist on. But that doesn’t mean we don’t eat a lot of other foods. Through this blog, I want to share you with my food. Our food. Now that I’m one year away from leaving for college (sorry Mom and Dad, but I’m not staying in Dallas!), I want this blog to go forward with me no matter where life takes me.

Because of this, I’ve decided to not force Bok Choy and Broccoli to stay vegetarian. I eat some meats, and I’d like to share the stories and recipes of foods that aren’t completely plant-based. Some recipes in the future will still be vegetarian (or easily adaptable to be vegetarian/vegan!), but I don’t want to limit what I can share.

I want this blog to be like you’re having a meal with me, like you’re getting to know me over a meal. So the focus won’t be entirely on recipes like it has been. Sometimes it’ll just be stories, other times it’ll be just pictures. Or maybe it’ll be a mix of both. Like how you can’t plan life, I don’t want to plan too much with this blog.

I’ll see you soon. I promise!

– Joshua

Baked Cauliflower with Tahini-Yogurt Sauce

One of the most common reasons I hear from people who say they could “never become vegetarian” is that they wouldn’t know what to make if they couldn’t cook with meat. When my mom and I began thinking of possible vegetarian (and even some vegan!) meals, we realized there is a plethora of great and easy meals, side dishes, and desserts.

To show you what I mean, here’s a very quick and easy baked cauliflower recipe my mom always makes whenever we have Mediterranean food, always served with a yogurt sauce.

The great thing about this recipe is how easy it is—all you need is cauliflower, salt, pepper, olive oil, garlic, yogurt, and tahini. If you’re unfamiliar with tahini—also called “tahina,” from the Greek “takhini” (which is based on Arabic “tahana,” to crush)—is a Middle Eastern paste made from ground sesame seeds.

Out of all the ingredients, tahini is the only one that’s a little more out-there. You should be able to find it at any Middle Eastern grocery store, but I heard Indian grocery stores have it too, as well as Whole Foods and some regular supermarkets (look in the “ethnic foods” aisle). Continue reading