Gambas al Ajillo: Building flavors to complement rather than overpower the traditional

One mention of gambas here in the Philippines would usually bring to mind images of shrimps in a deep red-orange sauce (that’s usually more sweet than spicy) with some bellpeppers and onions thrown in for good measure. In some cases, this even comes in a smoking hot sizzling plate. Personally, I’m not a fan of this style of gambas mainly because the shrimps tend to come out overcooked and all the flavors that are added in the dish just overwhelm the subtle taste of the shrimp.

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What you’ll see when you search for “gambas” in Google.

My preference for gambas is to have it as gambas al ajillo, shrimps in garlic to put it simply. Traditional recipes I have seen make use of just four ingredients outside of your basic salt and pepper seasoning: Shrimps, olive oil, garlic, and chili. The dish, as you would expect, lets the shrimps shine with none of the other flavors getting in the way. My take on this though adds a few more ingredients that work to elevate the shrimp flavor even more than just having your basic ingredients.

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Pan-grilled Pork Belly: The no frills dish when you want something simple but delicious

The new cast iron pan and my baby mint plant got me excited to make something in the kitchen tonight. I wanted to make something simple and the first thing that came to mind was some inihaw na liempo or grilled pork belly. This was a dish that always takes me back to Sunday lunches back home with the family and how I did it couldn’t have been simpler! A word of caution though: This can get smokey.

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The plant that made me cook.

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Beer on Ice and Color Play

It’s been a while since I last did a fun shoot of a random image concept that’s been playing around in my head. This one, in particular, was planned as far back as mid-December last year. I remember since I was at the Rockwell Christmas Bazaar when I came up with the idea of shooting this.

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So the plan: Beer bottles on/in a bed of ice with light coming from beneath the ice for what I imagined would make it look clear and crisp. Think looking into a cooler filled with ice and these delicious beers waiting snugly in their cold embrace. That’s what I was going for.

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Minimalism: When Less Needs More

(Note: Before you even begin reading this, please be warned that this is possibly my lengthiest post. I will not share and food or cocktail recipes nor will I share lighting information. What you will read here are some random thoughts that have been running around in my head since my last few shoots.)

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Family shoots, portfolio portraits, and minimalist food photos: A summary of my photography in the first three weeks of 2016.

Hello, 2016! Happy new year to everyone taking the time to read this entry, my first for the year. The first two weeks of January have been exciting, to say the least. In the first three weekends of the year, I’ve already had the chance to shoot a variety of subjects ranging from family portraits to food shots for a restaurant menu to a more conceptual coffee shoot, all of which have their own set of quirks.

What surprised me though was my new found appreciation for shooting food on a purely white background, something that I didn’t think of highly prior to shooting the restaurant menu and coffee. I know that my little disclaimer on not thinking highly of this genre of food photography might seem a bit douche-y but please do let me explain. My initial foray into food photography was focused mainly on one thing: Mimic what I see in food magazines and learn to improve on these or put my own twist to it. This, in hindsight, wasn’t really the best mindset to have with most food magazines showing photos that are, more often than not, rustic.

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Behind-the-scenes of the Kazam shoot: Why I went with flashes despite the nice and bright natural light

Behind the scenes with my lone umbrella
Behind the scenes with my lone umbrella

So I had a shoot for Kazam Kebab House, one of the kebab and shawarma places near the house, yesterday afternoon. We had the shoot scheduled for the whole afternoon from 1:00-5:00 to shoot images for their menu. One of the first things that I noticed with the place when I first visited was that one whole side of the shop just opens up to the street which meant there was no real shortage of natural light. On the day of the shoot though, I decided to still shoot with my flashes due mainly to one key thing: the weather.

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BTS: How I shot a scoop of ice cream in the middle of a Philippine summer afternoon

How it actually looks behind the scenes
How it actually looks behind the scenes

The other day, I stumbled upon this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NB74oogL9c) on food photography that discussed “styling to the camera”. It was a very interesting concept that really made sense when it comes to setting up your shot to get the minute details set one little step at a time. Luckily, an internal company contest was announced just a few days after watching the video so it presented the perfect opportunity to try this workflow out!

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Anchovy Pasta: A quick, healthy pasta that you can cook up in 20 minutes

Anchovies, basil, cherry tomatoes
Anchovies, basil, cherry tomatoes

My last few dishes haven’t really been the healthiest dishes that you can get. For this Sunday’s family dinner, I decided to go with a brighter, fresher pasta that would still have a lot of bold flavours. My first option was an anchovy and arugula pasta, something that I have done before while I was still in Singapore. Upon checking in the supermarket, arugula was out so I had to check for substitutes that could still work well with the saltiness of the anchovies. I finally decided on an anchovy, cherry tomato, and basil pasta! Read more to check the recipe out.

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