yana's ube bibingka & no forks given


After traveling all around the US hosting kamayans in 50 states over 52 weeks (!!), my kasama Yana Gilbeuna is writing a book! Not only do I think No Forks Given is the best title ever (that literal and pun perfection tho), I think this book is critically important today with the influx of Filipino food in mainstream media. 

Can we talk about that for a second? In the past year or so, friends have been tagging me all over the interwebz whenever something remotely Filipino food related (but especially ube related) is posted.

I love this. After a childhood of having to explain being Filipino, it means a lot to see more of my culture in the media. I love that there are more Filipino restaurants. I love that people are learning that "Asian food" is not a homogenous thing, but actually complex and different everywhere. I love that I can talk about eating fried fish with rice and eggs for breakfast without getting weird looks. I also love that people finally know what ube is.


But I don't love that people keep calling Filipino food "the next big thing" (see here and here). I don't love that these posts quote "established" white chefs confirming this notion (like here and here), as if Filipino food might not be relevant without their blessing. I don't love that the conversation is often about Filipino food being a cool new thing in America when Filipinos are the second largest Asian-American population here.

With this influx of attention to Filipino food, it's critical we center the conversation around Filipino voices. We don't need to read more stories about how someone "discovered" how amazing our food is (cause dude, we know). We need to read more stories from Filipinos themselves on how complex, personal, and often political our food is, as we hold so much of our identity in what we eat and share.


We can and will continue asking for more representation in the media, but we can also fund projects by independent artists to help get their voices out into the world. Backing Yana's book on Kickstarter is a great way to do that-- to fund the change you want to see, as my Twitter hero Jee says.

On a more personal level, I'm really pumped about this book because the team behind it is mostly Filipino and Yana asked yours truly to take the photos (!!!) So if you have the means to donate, or even some time to share, by backing this project, you're backing independent artists, you're backing women of color, you're backing POC telling their own story and taking back their own narratives.

Back No Forks Given here! And without further ado.. 

yana's ube bibingka

1 package glutinous rice flour
1 package regular rice flour
a carton of coconut cream
1 cup water
1 jar of ube jam
ube flavoring
a jar of macapuno
1/4 cup muscovado
banana leaves
butter to taste

Whisk the two rice flours together, then slowly incorporate the coconut cream. Add about a cup of water to loosen up the mixture if it's too thick. Mix in your ube jam and add extra ube flavor to taste. Take Instagram pics of the cool marbling effect. Mix in your macapuno and muscovado. 

Line a backing dish with banana leaves, pour in the bibingka batter (don't worry about filling to the tip-top because this doesn't really rise), and bake at 395°F for 20-30 minutes, preferably while watching Riverdale and gawking at Jughead. Once the top has baked, rub some butter over the top then return to the oven. Bake for another 10-15 or until a toothpick comes out clean. Sprinkle with moscavado. Share with all your friends, the true Filipino way.


palitaw + filipino desserts for food52


I wrote and shot my first piece for Food52 and it's all about Filipino desserts and I'm so proud/tired/elated I could faceplant in a bowl of ginatan (mmm...).

I called my mom every day over the two months it took me to write it, and I'm really glad she was my lifeline throughout. (Most of my texts to her were along the lines of, "does this look horrible?" and "oops I...")

Anyway! These palitaw are included in the round up, but I'm sharing the (non) recipe here! These are vegan and gluten free, as many Filipino desserts happen to be, and are similar to mochi in texture. My mom happened to be visiting for my birthday when we made these, so you've got her expert hands to guide you with visuals. Enjoy!


glutinous rice flour
grated coconut
sesame seeds


Fill a pot of water and set to a low simmer on the stove. Shred and flatten the grated coconut on a plate and set aside.

In a bowl, slowly add water to the rice flour, kneading as you go, until the mixture is no longer pasty but still sticky. (Think mochi!) I can't emphasize how important it is to go slowly with the water! 

Once you have a big blob of perfect consistency, pinch of a gumball-sized chunk, roll into a ball in your palms, then flatten. Drop the palitaw into the boiling water until it floats, then scoop out and place on the bed of coconut. "Bread" each side with coconut and place on a plate.

Once all the palitaw are coconut-ed, toast the sesame seeds then grind with a mortar and pestle. Mix with a bowl of sugar, then sprinkle the sesame-sugar mix onto the palitaw. Share with your friends who don't know what Filipino desserts are ASAP.