About

 

Jun — pronounced Joon, just like the month of June – is my nickname. It is a very Filipino nickname, in fact. I was named after my dad and I don’t think anyone other than Filipinos shortens Junior to Jun. Jun-blog is my mouthwatering and heartwarming journal of Filipino home cooking.

I didn’t know my way in the kitchen until I moved from Manila to California for graduate school in 1998 and lived on my own. Learning how to cook was easier than learning how to do my own laundry.  I can still remember the very first time I stepped inside my tiny kitchen in Palo Alto.

It was a chilly Saturday morning. The steam billowing out of my hand-me-down rice cooker kept my cold, clammy hands warm. The rice was cooking while the pork was simmering slowly in a delicious vinegar bath teeming with garlic and black peppercorns. 

I made my mom’s pork adobo for the very first time and it was delicious. It tasted like home. It instantly whisked me away from my homesickness and brought me back home, back to my family even for just a fleeting time.

Mom and Jun BelenI learned how to cook through long-distance phone conversations with my mom, the lady who taught me the love of food and cooking. “Sauté the garlic, then the onions, and then the tomatoes,” she instructed me while I scribbled down the ingredients and directions. “How much fish sauce should I add?” “How many cups of water and how many cups of rice?” “What can I substitute for bangus?” “What cut of meat should I use for mechado?” My questions were endless. Sometimes silly. “Taste it and you’ll learn,” she taught me.

Jun-blog is my personal collection of how-to’s and ABC’s of Filipino cuisine peppered with funny but oftentimes sentimental anecdotes. Each ingredient and each step bring back fond memories from long ago. Halo-halo and calamansi juice in the summertime. Arroz caldo and bibingka during the Holidays.  For those unfamiliar with Filipino food and culture, Jun-blog is a delicious introduction.

Mom and Jun BelenThe International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) named Jun-blog a finalist for Best Culinary Blog in its 2013 Food Writing Awards. Jun-blog has been featured in the Diner’s Journal of the Food and Dining Section of The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Philippines’ Food Magazine, and Australia’s Feast Magazine. The blog is a three-time finalist for Best Regional Cuisine Blog in Saveur Magazine’s Annual Best Food Blog Awards in 2013, 2012, and 2011.

My work as photographer and blogger has been mentioned in Saveur Magazine’s “the Best of the Web”, Cooking Channel’s “Eat Street”, Los Angeles’ KCRW Good Food, The Huffington Post’s Kitchen Daily, San Francisco’s Inside Scoop, San Francisco’s SF Weekly, and food sites like Chow, Gojee, Gourmet Live, Foodista, Food News Journal, and the Kitchn. My photographs have appeared in Gobba Gobba Hey: A Gob Cookbook, Spenser Magazine, Culinary Trends Magazine, Florida’s Saltwater Recreational Fishing Regulations Magazine, San Francisco’s 7×7 Magazine, San Francisco’s SF Weekly Magazine, and San Francisco’s Professional Travel Planner’s Guide.

I dream of a bed and breakfast in a farm with lots of corgis, chickens, and calamansi trees. While I am not there yet, I work as a technologist in Silicon Valley and moonlight as a food photographer. I live on the beautiful hills of Oakland, California with my partner, two calamansi trees, four chickens, and beloved corgi.

 

Doreen-Fernandez-Writing-Award

Jun Belen wins the Doreen Gamboa Fernandez Food Writing second prize. “His essay, “The Ritual of Cooking Rice,” describes how his mother cooked rice, the various steps that lead to what Doreen Gamboa Fernandez describes as the “Filipinos’ deepest comfort food.”
– Micky Fenix, Philippine Daily Inquirer, January 2014

2013 Saveur Best Food Blog

Jun-blog is a three-time finalist for Best Regional Cuisine Blog in Saveur Magazine’s Best Food Blog Awards. Jun-blog has been selected by Saveur editors as one of the year’s best food blogs for three years in a row — 2011, 2012, and 2013.

IACP-Peoples-Choice

Jun-blog is nominated for Best Culinary Blog — one of only three finalists — by the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) in their 2013 Food Writing Awards and Conference held in San Francisco, CA.

The New York Times Diners Journal

“An essay on all things adobo — vinegar, palm sugar, soy sauce, peppercorns — from a Filipino food blogger.”
— Julia Moskin, The New York Times Diner’s Journal,
October 2012

50 Best List Jun-blog

“The Pinoy Cuisine Champion. Filipino-American Jun Belen and his website Jun-blog gets our vote with its minimalist yet mouth-watering visuals, nostalgic narratives, and unyielding passion for his home country’s cuisine.”
– Food Magazine, Philippines, October 2012

Doreen Gamboa Fernandez

Jun Belen’s “Anong Pang-Himagas” wins Doreen Gamboa Fernandez Food Writing honorable mention. “Jun Belen, wrote about his picnic lunches in elementary school with his mother. His favorite was her minatamis na saging.”
– Micky Fenix, Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 2012

The New York Times Diners Journal

“The photographer Jun Belen is working his way through a stunning alphabet of Filipino food. He started with Achuete Oil a year ago, breezed past Calamansi Sorbet and Pork Belly Binagoongan; now he’s up to Sawsawan.”
— Julia Moskin, The New York Times Diner’s Journal, May 2012

2012 Saveur Best Food Blog Awards Finalist

“Jun Belen turned his homesickness into a creative endeavor with this blog about Filipino cooking. A professional food photographer, his images are a warm entry point into Filipino cuisine and culture.”
Jun-blog is named finalist for Best Regional Cuisine Blog in Saveur Magazine’s Best Food Blog Awards.

IACP-Peoples-Choice

Jun-blog is nominated for a People’s Choice Award for Best Culinary Website or Blog by the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) as part of their inaugural New Media and Broadcast Awards.
– IACP Food Writing Awards, New York, March 2012

Chronicle-Press

Tara Duggan writes about Noche Buena and Misa de Gallo in a special to the Chronicle about the Filipino Christmas feast featuring stories from Jun Belen’s childhood and his recipe for bibingka and arroz caldo.
– San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco, December 2011

“Filipinos are very proud of their cuisine, but Jun Belen took his love for Filipino food to a whole new level. … In every entry, he shares stories about his family, growing up away from his motherland and the native dishes he has come to love.”
– Food Magazine, Philippines, October 2011

“Philippine-born, San Francisco-based Jun Belen quells his homesickness with a blog about his homeland’s food. … Jun’s job as a photographer and stylist makes for a blog that is both interesting and beautiful.”
– Feast Magazine, Australia, December 2011

“Jun Belen, the voice behind Jun-blog, moved to California from the Philippines in 1998. His first Thanksgiving was spent in a Carrow’s on the side of a Las Vegas highway.” Jun Belen talks with Evan Kleiman about his first Thanksgiving and stuffing balls recipe.
– KCRW Good Food, Los Angeles, November 2011

Jun Belen talks about Filipino food and Hapa SF, Chef William Pilz’s popular modern Filipino food truck in San Francisco, in Food Network Canada’s and Cooking Channel’s Eat Street with James Cunningham.
– Eat Street, San Francisco, July 2011

Out of 40,000 nominations, Jun-blog is named finalist for Best Regional Cuisine Blog in Saveur Magazine’s 2011 Best Food Blog Awards. Jun-blog also makes it to Saveur’s elite roster of “the Best of the Web” with a feature on pork barbecue skewers and banana ketchup.
 
  • MARGARET

    hi Jun!, I will try your E for Ensaimada! Oh plssss make this the perfect recipe!!!

  • Mel Gavin

    Thanks Jun… I will definitely try this recipe:)

  • Maria Needham

    So far, I think I’m gonna love your blog. I’m a Filipino by heritage, Canadian by nationality. I am interested in exploring my roots thru food. Jun, you’ll be my go to recipe book when I’m craving Filipino food. This morning I just served my 3 kids, lugaw for bfast. It was a hit!

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Reggie, maraming salamat!

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Maraming salamat, Joyce. Congratulations sa inyong kasal. Best wishes.

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Thank you! Indonesian and Filipino cuisine have so much in common. Thank you for following the blog!

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Desiree, maraming salamat for trying the recipes. I hope you’ll come back and try more.

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Maraming salamat, Margaret!

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Maria, thank you for writing and for your thoughtfulness. So happy to hear your kids enjoyed your lugaw. A good way to start the day! I hope you’ll come back and try the other recipes. Best to you and your family. Which part of Canada do you live? East or West Coast?

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Thank you, Mel.

  • Maria Needham

    Hi June, we live in Calgary, Alberta, not the coast, but one province over.
    Afritada is my next culinary project from scratch, without any commercial powders! And then, my ultimate challenge, the search for a drop dead chicken adobo. I like it with coconut milk and some chilies. This is not how my dad made it, but I think it tastes better with coconut milk and a bit of gentle heat, not so vinegary. I’m going to search your recipe collection for adobo.

  • Fia Velasco

    Found your blog as I was looking for Java Rice recipe. I was thinking of the Java Rice I always ate when I had my birthday parties at a restaurant in the Philippines called “Bonanza”. I always ordered Sate Babe with Java Rice and Acharra. Through surfing the website for the Java Rice recipe I found out that there is a restaurant in the Philippines “The Aristocrat” that also served Java Rice. I know the name but I don’t remember eating there. Anyway, I checked your blog because you had the Java Rice recipe then I clicked on “About” and also read the comments. So far I like ur blog just by looking at your Java Rice recipe, your “About” and the comments. I will explore further your blog at a later time as it is past 12am already (tired and sleepy). I also subscribed just now. I live in New Jersey.

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Fia, thank you for writing and thank you for the kind words. So happy you found the blog. How long have you lived in New Jersey and where are you from back home? I hope you’ll come back and try the recipes. A good place to start is my Filipino Food alphabet — http://blog.junbelen.com/junblog-glossary/. Again, thank you for following the blog and best to you and your family.

  • marvz

    good day sir jun! thanks for accepting..found your blog really interesting and i will surely try your recipes.thanks for sharing and more power.

  • Brenda Elrod

    Hi Jun, my name is Brenda and I’m from Angeles City-mastiza-dad is white and mom is from Pampango. She is the best cook of Filipino food, but for some strange reason made up American names for them. I think so my dad wouldn’t feel left out. I know the dish when I see it, but I never know the proper names. Isn’t that weird? When I saw your blog and saw the pix of menudo, I got so excited, saying, I know that dish!! And my mom, bless her heart isn’t the most patient of teachers. What I’m trying to say is that I’m so excited to have found your blog and I can start teaching my daughter our wonderful heritage. OK, starting to tear up! Please have a blessed day and thank you so much!!!

  • Zai

    Marhaba Jun! Im Zai from UAE. found your blog as I was looking for Sinigang na Salmon Recipe. I will surely try your other menus specially this coming Eid Holiday Season. Thanks and more power!

  • Anonymous

    kumasta Jun. I found your blog a while back when looking for preparation instructions for Pritong Mani, which totally rocked. My soul mate and life partner is Pinoy and has introduced me to some of the best new flavors over the past many years. We have to travel half way across Canada to get good Siopao, so I have decided to make it. Thank you for sharing and good luck to me, my partner says I don’t have a prayer, because even her mother could not make it like they do in Vancouver. This old white guy is going to rock Winnipeg with his Filipino sweet buns. When my customers are done fondling my nuts (printong mani) they can move on to rubbing my sweet buns (siopao). Cheers, Ross

  • sharon

    Hi Jun! I made your recipe of Ginataang. It was sooooo good & unbelievably simple. I got requests for your recipe! i can’t wait to try your other recipes! love your pictures as well! thanks for blogging.

  • Angela Michele Brown

    Jun,
    Thanks for letting me join. My sisters love Spanish bread and I thought I would make it for them, thanks to your recipe. Talked it over with them and they doubted my culinary skills so I turned it into a family event. Although they didn’t all turn out the perfect shape, they were all delicious. On to more recipes and hopeful more family bonding moments.

  • Lmarco

    I’m happy I discovered your blog, Jun. Seems uncanny that you don’t live that far from me either. Hope to see you around, neighbor :o )

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    And I am happy, too, that you discovered the blog! Thank you for writing. Are you in the East Bay? in Oakland? Yes — it would be nice to meet you.

  • Lmarco

    I’m from Alameda :o ) I made the lengua de gato. It’s a good recipe. The batter is easy to work with too. My kids loved it. thanks!

  • Flower

    I’m certainly glad to find your blog, Jun. I’m Flora from Cavite, Philippines. I loved your “How to make Pandesal”…also How to make Chop Suey. Recently,I was advised by my doctor to watch my diet…thus, i’m searching for food preparations good for people with hypertension.. hope to get more healthy ingredients with your cooking style! :-)

  • Tami

    Hi Jun- I just discovered your blog (it was mentioned in this article in the Chronicle – http://www.sfgate.com/food/article/Outsider-Preeti-Mistry-goes-authentic-at-Juhu-5599656.php#page-2). I wish I had known about it sooner! Lived in the Oakland Hills for a few years before moving to Moraga. Do you ever do cooking classes? I bet I could whip up a group who’d love to learn from you ;)

  • Judy Marchessault

    Hi Jun – glad my sister pointed me to your blog! I am looking for advice: what food can I whip up/serve easily and serve at an elementary school ‘all around the world’ event? We live in Milwaukee, so resources may be limited (not sure I could find ube :-) . I appreciate any tips you can offer – maraming salamat!