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

    Karen, thank you so much for writing.  And thank you for letting your friends know about Jun-blog.  Maraming salamat!

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

    Joel, thank you! I hope your kids loved the tocino.  You can also make it with boneless chicken thighs.  So easy to make. Perfect for breakfast with fried rice and fried egg.

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

    Thank you so much for writing and for your very kind words.  Sadly, there are no Filipino restaurants up in the North Bay but if you drive down to the Peninsula there are quite a few good ones. My favorites are Attic in San Mateo and Tastebuds in San Bruno.  Tastebuds has lechon!! And there’s a Filipino food truck in San Francisco — Hapa SF — that I love, too. They make delicious California versions of Filipino food.  

    Thank you once again.  I didn’t catch your name though.

  • Geeeeeee3

    Hi Jun,

    Looking forward to making the Buko Bar in little plastic tubes I bought from Unimart Manila a few years back. Thank You for the recipe… 2 thumbs up to all your pictures…..

  • Tali_bocuye

    hi jun, love your blog keep it up and yaaaaam always 

  • Vjers_itz1995

    all your recipes are yummy keep it up jun

  • Marlene

    love your blog.  I am an American FIlipina and crave filipino food from time to time.  I like your recipes and really enjoy your photos and stories too.  please keep on writing.  I just discovered your blog.

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

    Thank you, Marlene for your very kind note. Where are you from?  I am so excited that you discovered the blog. Please do visit us back soon. I hope you’ll try the recipes.

  • Nikki

    Hi, Jun! I just came across your blog. I’m also a Filipino living in SoCal. I’d love to try making your Queso Ice Cream, Bibingka, etc…. Your pictures are mouth-watering! More power to you!

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

    Thank you, Nikki! I’m so excited you discovered the blog. Did you grow up in SoCal or back home? Please try out the recipes and let me know how it goes.  Queso ice cream is perfect for summer!

  • Ara

    I love your blog and pictures. I hope to start working on the recipes you shared. Thank you and God Bless!

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

    Ara, thank you for subscribing to the blog!

  • Nicolecruz72

    I love your blog.  It makes me proud as a Filipina to read about you and the way you champion our wonderful yet still relatively unknown cuisine.  The photographs are beautiful, the writing simple but moving and the food–oh the food!  Did I say I love your blog already?  :-)

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

    Thank you, Nicole, for your very kind words.  I am so happy you discovered the blog and you’re enjoying it.  Please tell your family and friends about it and I hope you’ll come back often and try the recipes.  Best to you.

  • Gonzogourmet

    Terrific photos.  With these shots you are really helping Philippine cuisine become better known outside our culture.  I am in the restaurant business (in Manila, but I was born in San Francisco) and if I had a dollar for every time a foreigner told me that Filipino food looked unappetizing, I would be a rich man. lol. I have also worked with quite a few food photographers in my time, and I can say your photographs are some of the best I have seen. Ever.   You have a great eye.  Keep shooting!

  • Anjali Prasad

    Thanks for the coconut bun recipe and all others. You’re amazing!

  • proseccogirl

    Jun – I stumbled on a link to your blog from Chowhound.  Thank you for your beautiful photos and recipes.  I am a first generation American from Filipino parents living in NYC married to an Italian.  I do not know how to cook any Filipino food except for fried egg and garlic fried rice – my go to food when I’m craving comfort food!  Instead, I call my parents – make my food requests and have dinner at their house.  Your blog has now inspired me to try my hand in the kitchen and cook.  thanks for the inspiration!

  • http://twitter.com/adoboloco adoboloco

    Looking forward to trying your recipes. Hopefully one day I can take photos and write as well as you on my blog…. Inspiring.

    Aloha

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

    You are very kind.  Thank you so much for writing.  It is unfortunate that our cuisine has not been given the attention it rightly deserves.  Thank you again for the kind words and I am so happy you discovered the blog.  I hope you can pass it on to your family and friends.  

    More power to your restaurant business.  Keep in touch and maybe I can try your food when I visit Manila in the future.

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

    Anjali, thank you! I’m happy you found the recipe useful.

  • mary ann

    living in canada…i have a project to make about ingredients and i choose pandan leaves and coconut milk  and it happen to be link in your site …nice got some recipes which is really really cool…thanks a lot

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

    Thank you so much for your very kind note.  I’m so happy you discovered the blog.  Please tell your family and friends about it.  

    I hope you’ll try some of the recipes and you’ll write back about your experiences.  Have you visited the Philippines recently? You’re very lucky that your parents live close and that you can still enjoy Filipino home cooked meals with them.

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

    Aloha and thank you for your very kind note.  I hope you’ll write back about your experiences with the recipes.  More power to you and Adobo Loco!  

  • tolits ciagar

    im from melbourne,australia,chef by trade,want to know more bout new way of pinoy food and cooking,looking forward to open a resto in manila,,,,,,mixed european,medditeranian,pinoy food,impress about ur blog,well done

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

    Thank you for writing, Mary Ann.  Are pandan leaves available in Canada?

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

    Thank you for the very kind note.  A mix of Mediterranean and Filipino sounds really good.  Best of luck in your plans.

  • Mari

    Banana brioche pudding from Moonside Bakery Cafe; have you had the exquisite pleasure? Just had it yesterday and am enthralled. How does it compare to the Tartine recipe? I want some more!!

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

    Mari, I’ve never been to Moonside Bakery Cafe but thank you for the tip about their banana brioche pudding.  It sounds heavenly.  Tartine’s brioche pudding is delicious.  Fresh fruit on top completes it.  

    If you like fruit pies, there’s a place close to Half Moon Bay that you must try — Duarte’s Tavern in Pescadero.  Their fruit pies are divine.

  • http://twitter.com/donnadc2 Donna

    I stumble across your blog when I was searching for pinipig (in general). Wow, what a gem. I like to cook in general, all kinds. I have tons of Filipino recipe  from family but its never enough.. looks like I’ll be using blog as a reference.  Kudos to you! 

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

    Thank you so much, Donna, for the very kind words.  I am happy to hear you’re enjoying the blog.  I hope you’ll come back and try the recipes and that you’ll tell your friends and family about the blog.

  • http://www.thehapitraveler.blogspot.com/ jeff

    Hi Jun, Its good to know that there are so many Filipino’s around the world  who haven’t forgotten their roots and their food. I also have a blog about Filipino food http://www.thehapitraveler.blogspot.com but mostly of the recipes there are self made and purely based on my adventurous style in cooking. I made that blog so that my fellow Filipinos can also try my dishes. Keep up the good work and so proud of your accomplishments!

  • Gwen

    Wandered here from a Google search of Filipino cheese ice cream. Learned how to cook when I came over to the US for grad school. Looking forward to trying out your recipes!

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

    Thank you, Gwen, for writing.  I hope you’ll come back to try out the recipes.

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

    Jeff, thank you for the very kind compliments.  And thank you for sharing your blog — plenty of recipes I would like to try.

  • Paige

    I’m looking forward to brining a chicken tomorrow for company dinner using your recipe.  I’m looking forward to more recipes and particularly those with Filipino influences.

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

    Thank you, Paige for writing.  I’m crossing my fingers your chicken will be a hit.  Please do come back and try out the Filipino recipes.

  • Mhalz Franco Fabilane

    Thank you so much Sir Jun! The Lord Bless your heart… SHALOM! 

  • Jen C

    I just discovered your blog and I love it! Incredible. Half fili, born/ raised in Ldn and you are gonna help me discover my heritage..!

  • Leest

    Just saw your blog on How to make Chocolate Tablea cake and will definitely give it a try for myself. The whole 6-in just for myself. Lol! Then I’ll have our whole church here in Chicago ‘burbs to taste it! Hope I’ll be able to give justice to your creation! God bless your work! -Photog and aspiring baker here, from Skokie, Il!

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

    Jen, thank you for writing. I hope you’ll try the recipes and share the blog with your family and friends.  Are there Asian grocery stores in London that sell Filipino ingredients?

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

    Thank you for writing.  I hope your chocolate tablea cake was a hit!

  • Jen I

    I found your blog searching for recipes for Chicken Inasal. My in-laws are from Bacolod and we love eating the famous grilled chicken when we visit. Our favorite is Chicken House but I can’t wait to make your version for my husband. Thanks!!

  • Bridget

    I have never joined any kind of blog in all my life, I am not even on Facebook, out of choice. However there is something so genuine and real about you Jun that makes anyone want to be your instant confidant. It is I believe your sheer passion with the Philippine culture and through that, food. Food is really the connection to any culture. Understand one’s food, it is that doorway. I am in my early forties, born in the Philippines, but migrated to the States in the mid 70s, at the age of 6. I have been back a few times to the homeland and as most of your followers say the food is always what they miss most. Nothing compares to home cooking! I think you have bridged that connection for those living here in the States. Please continue your much needed gift.

  • Kalea1203

    Hi Jun, just joined your blog. I’ve been reading your stories, enjoying them while feeling nostalgic at the same time. I too, was born in the Phil., but have lived here in the US for over 30 years. Thank you for taking the time to share. God bless…

  • Yem

    I just stumbled upon your blog as I was googling the difference between purple yams and purple potatoes. U for übe popped up and I had to click on it. I love übe everything and have never made it on my own and was attempting to make it on my own. I just moved to las Vegas from San Francisco and its a very hard adjustment. I’m Filipino and Nigerian mixed but raised only with my Filipino side and in need of my patis, vitson, sinigang or tamarind seasoning packets. I love your recipes and sounds just like my mom’s. So glad to have your blog as a resource.

  • JemDMD

    Hi! i stumbled upon your blog and boy was i so excited to try all the recipes here. My excitement took me to try your Ginataang hipon right away. And it was superb!!! :) My mom loved it! :) Btw, I am also a photog enthusiast and your food photog is awesome as well! :) Cheers

  • betty

    The recipes and the instructions are so simple. I am so glad I came across this site. Thank you very much…. I will try your recipe for the Salmon in Miso soup.

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

    Betty, thank you so much for writing. Yes, the recipes here are very simple and easy to follow. I’d love to hear from you back when you try some of them. Thank you for following the blog.

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

    Thank you, Jem for writing. So happy to hear your mom loved your ginataang hipon. I hope you’ll come back and try the other recipes. And thank you for the compliments about my photography. What kind of photographs do you shoot? Food, landscape, or portraits?

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

    Yem, thank you so much for writing. I hope your move to Las Vegas is going well. Are there Filipino or Asian grocery stores nearby? I hope you’ll come back and try the recipes in the blog. Best of luck to you.