Salmon and shrimp in sour broth (sinigang)

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Here’s one dish that is so ubiquitous in the Philippines. It’s considered a comfort food so you’ll find this being served in any Filipino restaurant. I grew up eating this and since there’s a significant Asian American presence in California I get to buy the tamarind mix I need for this. The local term for this meal is “sinigang”, loosely translated as sour broth, sort of like Thailand’s tom yum soup. It’s traditionally cooked with pork but I prefer it with salmon and shrimp.

Salmon and shrimp sinigang recipe

Ingredients
Salmon steak (2-3)
Shrimp (preferably with head for a more flavorful broth), about half a pound
Green beans
Baby bak choy
Thai chili pepper
Tomato (2-3)
Green onions
Onion
Tamarind Soup mix (you can get this in any Asian or Filipino supermarket)
Fish sauce (optional)

Salmon and shrimp sinigang recipe 2

Cooking Instructions
1. Bring a pot of water to boil. The amount of water is totally up to you, how much soup you want and all. I normally fill up to a third of a medium sized pot
2. Put the onion and the tomato shortly after the onion (like after 5 minutes)
3. Continue boiling for 6 minutes then bring down the heat and put the salmon steak
4. Cook for about 8 or so minutes or until the salmon is almost cooked. Do not overcook the salmon
5. Season using a packet of the tamarind broth mix (less or more depending on how sour you want it to be), 5-10 crushed Thai chili pepper (depending on how hot you want it to be), fish sauce or Mediterranean sea salt if there’s not enough saltiness already.
6. Put the shrimp and boil for 2 minutes
7. Put the green beans and boil for another 2 minutes
8. Put the green onions and bak choy and boil until bak choy is cooked.

Serve hot with white rice. Rice can easily be cooked using a rice cooker that you can purchase at any Asian supermarket.

Bon appétit!

Salmon and shrimp sinigang recipe 3

Salmon and shrimp sinigang recipe 4

 

Spanish crab omelette

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I am a big fan of Crustaceans, but who isn’t? My family originally hailed from the Pacific after all, making the Pacific Ocean my stomping ground, so no surprise there. Luckily, there’s a chain of Asian supermarkets in Northern California that sell live crabs. They also steam them for you. How awesome is that? I never like them frozen so this works out really great.

This week we purchased two large Dungeness crabs: the first one we ate plain. As for the second, I opted for a more elaborate preparation: a Filipino dish with Spanish flair to be exact and it happens to be one of my favorites! The original recipe actually calls for stuffing the omelette inside the crab shell, hence, the term crab relleno but I chose to take the shell out of my version to keep it simpler.

Crab omelette ingredients

Ingredients:

1 large steamed crab, shelled and cleaned
3 eggs, beaten
1 small potato
1 medium carrot
1 shallot
1 tomato
Cooking oil
Mediterranean sea salt
Fish sauce (optional)
Ground pepper

Crab omelette ingredients2

Cooking crab omelette Asian style

Cooking Instructions

1. Heat cooking oil in a big frying pan
2. Saute shallot
3. Once golden brown, throw in the tomato
4. Put the potato. Turn down the heat. Stir continuously until potato is soft and fully cooked
5. Throw in the carrot and stir continuously until cooked.
6. In a big bowl, mix the beaten egg and the sautéed ingredients. Stir and season to taste with the Mediterranean sea salt, ground pepper and fish sauce if available.
7. Heat cooking oil in a big frying pan and cook the mixture. Turn to cook both sides.
8. Serve with white rice and steamed vegetables such as broccoli.

Tip: To cook white rice with great ease, go to any Asian market and purchase a rice cooker

Crab omelette with Spanish flair

And here’s the final result and our delicious lunch and dessert! Yum.

Crab omelette

When in Florence

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IMG_3544

A recent visit of a friend of mine to the beautiful Italian city of Firenze made me nostalgic about our trip there last year. Shopping for leather goods is one of the many things I love about this historic city and when we were there, I managed to buy a couple of different items. One jacket in particular is a favorite of mine. Since I work in San Francisco I can wear it almost all year round, thanks to this city’s ever-present chill.

More about our trip to Florence, here and here.

Leather jacket from Italy

The rich chocolate color of this jacket is so deliciously gorgeous. When/If I ever go back to Firenze, I will probably pick a more fun tone such as red. Since this was my first time there, I decided to be more practical and chose one that is neutral and can be used for basic layering

Valentino is dreamy but who can afford it?

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Maison Valentino

Photo taken from Valentino’s Instagram account

I have been obsessing over Valentino after seeing their Fall/Winter 2014 runway show. This fashion house’s romantic, feminine and dreamy vibe fits well with my fashion style. Owning one item from this fashion giant is now in my semi-ridiculous bucket list. Now, before you call me crazy and all, I am only looking at their more “affordable” line, Red Valentino.

Maison Valentino Fall Winter 2014 1

Maison Valentino Fall Winter 2014 2

Photos taken from Valentino’s Instagram account

So what else would an obsessed person do but try looking up the price of these pieces. Holy Moly, I nearly fell off my chair! I would have to sell my arm to afford one. This then begs the question: who can pay for such outrageous price tag on a piece of clothing, bag or shoes? I know, I know, it’s couture and the craftsmanship is phenomenal but still… Hollywood A-listers and super models wear them but they are either given to them for free or on loan for special events, not to mention their paycheck is at least $25 million a year. But how can some fashion bloggers own them or at least I think they do. I don’t get it.

Maison Valentino Fall Winter 2014 3

Photos taken from Valentino’s Instagram account

I’m certainly not poor. I know this because the last time I filed my taxes, the government wants more despite the already high withholding on our paychecks. Plus, according to Turbo Tax’s stats and figures, when compared to USA’s national average, most of Northern California’s Bay Area household fall under a very high tax income bracket. And yet, I cannot, under sober condition shell out $5,000 (at least) on a piece of clothing. (Red Valentino is cheaper by a good percentage). So who can buy it? And by this I didn’t mean someone taking out a loan for 3 months or spending one’s full gross paycheck on one piece of clothing? The Saudis? The Queen of England? Mark Zuckerberg?

I guess for now, I will keep on ogling over every piece that comes out of this fashion house while I stare at their Instagram feed drooling day in and day out. In the meantime, here are some more affordable outfits in my closet that are somewhat inspired by the romantic vibe of Maison Valentino. Enjoy!

Only in America: We the People

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We the people

The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.

Being summoned for jury duty is a great reminder of the distinct American culture, its diverse peoples, countless micro cultures, ideologies, unique beginnings and peerless idealism.

That said, I used to dread receiving jury duty notice in the mail and I don’t know if it’s just me but I receive this mail almost every year without fail. I know it’s selfish and I felt the gnawing guilt all the more after watching the National Geographic’s documentary, “Arlington: Field of Honor”. My fear stems from my innate tendency to account for the worst case scenario (being a programmer and all) – for example: being selected for a capital case.

When I was first called to serve, I just started a new job so I attempted to get out of it but the judge didn’t budge although I eventually got dismissed after a second round of questioning. I’m pretty sure I know the reason why. This week, I had to report for jury duty again but unlike the first time, I want to serve for the following reasons: 1) it’s a misdemeanor case, 2) the trial is to last only 4 days and 3) I get paid full for its entire duration. I didn’t get selected but alas, I had to sit in the courtroom for 8 hours and listen to the judge ask the same 14 questions at least 50 times before I found this out. Now, I know you’re probably thinking there must be countless ways to entertain yourself during this seemingly laborious process. This is true, except that none of them are legal in the courtroom: chewing gum, sleeping, talking, surfing the internet, social media, eating and drinking. Que horror! What’s a person supposed to do? And yet, despite the clearly posted signs, some people have trouble following instructions as simple as turning their phone off. Ugh. One of my pet peeves.

My salvation came in the form of humor and childlike fascination after hearing the first couple of potential jurors answer the judge’s questions. I have to say, it is rather amusing to hear all manners of excuses and flimsy attempts to get out of jury service. Some of them are as outrageous as a child’s “the dog ate my homework” excuse. But nothing wakes you up from this zombie-like courtroom state faster than a racist or a sexist excuse. I just can’t believe that some people resort to saying things like that, in this age and day, in progressive California! Are they telling the truth regarding their prejudices or is it just a tasteless attempt to be dismissed from the service? Either way, it’s bad.

Several minutes into this, I became convinced that there’s more drama in the jury selection process than any Kardashian episode. Well, it’s pretty much expected when you put 80 strangers from the whole gamut of society into one setting and have them disclose intimate details about their lives such as their jobs, criminal history, law enforcement connections, military services and experiences being victims of crime. You see, whether we realize it or not, most of us spend the biggest part of our lives in a predominantly homogeneous setting. Generally, people of similar (or closely similar) beliefs, lifestyle, jobs, educational background, culture, religious belief, economical means, tend to interact together. And because of this we forget that even within the same county, people are quite diverse. Jury service is the only place where unemployed, hippies, retirees, doctorate holders, college graduates, uneducated, students and people of many ethnic backgrounds congregate and share intimate anecdotes, some of which are criminal in nature.

Hearing short accounts of these people’s stories make my life seem like a walk in the park, boring at best. Not that I’m complaining but I was shocked to find that most people have experienced theft, car break-ins, identity theft, being mugged or getting held at gunpoint. It was also fascinating to listen to quite a number of people with connection to the FBI, CIA or the Pentagon. It’s like being in a movie or something, only it’s real. There’s no cool soundtrack or countless DNA evidence – just the judge, the D.A., the defense attorney, the accuse and the jury pool. Still, it was a surreal experience.

There’s no question as to the weight of having the power to imprison or to free, and in some cases, to control whether or not a person lives. Still, I would love to serve this country and carry this responsibility.. As long as it’s not a criminal case for I wouldn’t be able to handle the enormous weight of that. I’m quite sure that experience would be profound, nothing like any of those courtroom drama tv shows. Someday…

And now, I leave you with this quote from Thomas Jefferson:

I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.

Have you ever served on jury duty? If so, what’s your favorite story from this experience?

Around the world with my iPhone

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Monterey Bay California USAThe ubiquity of the internet and the smart phones is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it’s impossible to get completely disconnected from the world which makes it difficult to fully unwind. On the other hand, it’s quite a relief to know that you’re just one post, email or tweet away from connecting with friends, families and quite frankly, strangers all over the world.

Here are some edited artistic iPhone shots taken during my travel around the world. See if you can guess where they were taken from.

Florence Italy

You looking at me?

Pisa Italy 2