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Food and memories

Published May 15, 2023 7:00 pm Updated May 17, 2023 9:51 pm

A Filipino celebration, like the recent Mother’s Day, will always have food as one of its primary elements. This is primarily because food is celebratory, food is discovery, food is nourishing, and most importantly, food is memory.

A dish's taste, texture, and smell can stimulate one's mind and body. That is why each moment spent eating it would bring back memories shared between those who made and enjoyed it previously. 

And many would agree that the happier the memories are, the more delicious food tastes. 

To shed light on the subtle yet powerful magic of food, SM Supermalls invited some of the brightest names in the food industry to share family recipes and memories.

Baba Ibazeta-Benedicto and mom Sylvia

Baba Ibazeta-Benedicto is the enterprising woman behind Nono’s at the Podium and S Maison which was named after her father. But this time, it’s her mother that she’s honoring, as she shares this family recipe. 

”My favorite meals are full of joyful memories with my family,” said Baba. “We love to bond over food. My mom is the center of our coming together.” Like many mothers, Sylvia shows her love through food.

“She loves to shower us with a celebratory meal for our milestones in life. Whenever I am sick, she will make sure to get me anything I crave. Our everyday meals will often feature a new discovery or a new treat,” added Baba. 

Although Sylvia doesn’t cook often, she has a list of “the best” purveyors of her favorites. But she is also open and curious.

“Mom thoroughly enjoys discovering new treats and cuisine and is eager to share them with her family and friends,” noted Baba. ”For mom, it is important that every meal, no matter how simple, is presented well. There is nothing fussy or intimidating about her style. She has taught me that simple, everyday activities can be warm, beautiful, and graceful.”

Baba shares her family’s Roasted Crab with Garlic recipe.

“My mom loves crabs and we eat them often. Crabs remind me of our favorite crab restaurant in San Francisco. San Francisco is full of warm memories. It is the city my parents met and got married in. It is the city that I was trained in the culinary arts, and paid my dues as a young chef. Whenever we have the chance to go to San Francisco, we are excited to have crab. I hope you enjoy this recipe, and may it be a meal with warm memories for you and your loved ones,” she enthused.

Garlic Roasted Crabs 


  • 3 kg crabs
  • 1 ½ cups unsalted butter
  • 1 head garlic, minced
  • 1 head garlic, roasted
  • 2 tbsp chicken bouillon powder
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp of crab fat (aligue)


Roasted garlic

Chop the top off. Drizzle the head of garlic with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Wrap in foil. Roast at 350F for about 45 minutes until garlic is soft. Squeeze out the cloves. Set aside.

This can be done the day before.


Best to use live crabs. Clean the crabs and steam until cooked. Discard the gills. Remove the shell and scrape out the crab fat. Remove and cut into pieces. This can be done the day before.

Roasted crab

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a big wok, melt butter and sauté minced garlic until fragrant. Add roasted garlic, bouillon powder, and sugar. Mix until sugar and powder are melted. Add crab fat. You can also use bottled crab fat. Mix until combined. Add cooked crab pieces. Mix to coat the crab with sauce. Add cracked black pepper.

Pour and arrange crab into a baking dish (or oven-proof serving dish). Cover with foil and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes.


Raul Fores and mom Malou

Raul Fores is one with his mother, Malou Fores, in creating quality dining options for Filipinos. Mamou at the Podium, and soon at S. Maison are just some of the names associated with the two.

Raul shares a special memory of his early days being made aware of how important food was to his mother.

“The recipe I chose to share is Clams in White Wine Sauce. Before iPhones and YouTube, my mom would watch cooking shows and take down recipes on a legal pad,” Raul shared. “This recipe is inspired by one of those afternoons spent watching cooking shows until our minds were full but our stomachs empty. I remember my mom shushing me, or sometimes asking me what Ming Tsai, Alton Brown, or Bobby Flay said so she could take down the recipe because it would usually only come on the screen once.”

This recipe will always be special to Raul because it was afternoons like this one that brought him where he is today.

“To all the other amazing mothers and single fathers this one is for you—because you never know what a simple afternoon with your children can turn into,” Raul added.

Clams in White Wine Sauce 


  • 4 kg Manila clams (smaller is better)
  • 1 cup white wine (dry is better)
  • 1 bunch parsley (chopped)
  • 2 red onions, although shallots are better (thinly sliced)
  • 12 cloves garlic (thinly sliced)
  • 200 g salted butter (about two sticks)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt to taste


  1. Approximately one hour before you are hungry, prepare a bowl with cold water and salt until it tastes like the sea. Rinse and brush off any loose sea life growing or attached to the clams. Place clams in cold water and set aside.
  2. Bring a pot to medium heat and melt 20 g of butter and 1 tsp of olive oil.
  3. Add onions and garlic to pot. Season lightly with salt then stir. Sauté until red onions are translucent.
  4. Add washed Manila clams and half of chopped parsley, stir, and toss to mix pot thoroughly.
  5. Add white wine (don’t forget to have a sip for yourself!) and remaining butter. Stir and toss to mix pot thoroughly. Cover pot until all clams are open. Remove any clams that do not open; this usually means they were dead before they were cooked and can likely get you sick.
  6. Once all remaining clams are open, remove them and set aside.
  7. Bring down heat to a simmer and reduce remaining liquid until alcohol has been completely cooked off. (Taste it and you will know when!)
  8. Once alcohol has been cooked off, add clams back to pot and mix thoroughly. Once clams are well coated with the sauce, add remaining parsley and mix thoroughly again.
  9. Sing happy birthday once and you are ready to plate.
  10. Best served with good bread and in a big bowl. Don’t forget another bowl for your mismis.

Serves two.

Mom Emelda Teng
Emelda Teng with son Grant Gregory and daughter Mia Michaela

Emelda Teng is the better half of Eric and they’re responsible for such eating establishments as Mango Tree in SM Megamall, SM City North Edsa, and SM City Baguio; Genki Sushi at several SM Malls; and Tongluk Seafood Philippines at S Maison.

“I can't help but reflect on my journey as a mother. For more than 30 years, I've had the privilege of being a wife to my husband and a mother to our kids. While there have been challenges along the way, one thing has remained constant: the importance of spending time together as a family and enjoying each other's presence,” Emelda said.

One of the recipes that holds a special place in her family's hearts is beef stew.

“It's a dish that I've been cooking for years, and I'm thrilled to be passing it down to my kids,” she related. “There's something special about sharing a meal together, and I'm grateful that my family always comes together around the table.”

As her children have grown up and started living their own lives, Emelda realized that time really is the most precious gift we can give each other.

“Whether we're cooking a meal together, sharing a laugh, or simply catching up, these moments are what make life truly rich,” she added.

Beef Stew


  • 680 g beef ribs
  • 1 large radish, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 8 dried Japanese mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup dried scallops
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 pods of star anise
  • 8 cups water
  • salt to taste


  1. In a pressure cooker, add the beef ribs and enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface.
  2. Add the soy sauce, oyster sauce, brown sugar, star anise, dried Japanese mushrooms, dried scallops, and water to the pressure cooker. Secure the lid and bring to high pressure over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let it cook for 30 minutes.
  3. Release the pressure using the natural release method or the quick release method according to your pressure cooker's instructions. Carefully remove the lid.
  4. Add the radish to the pressure cooker and bring back to high pressure over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let it cook for another 10 minutes.
  5. Release the pressure again using the natural release method or the quick release method. Carefully remove the lid.
  6. Remove the star anise and any bones that may have separated from the beef. Taste the stew and adjust seasoning with salt if needed. Garnish with spring onions and sesame seeds.
  7. Serve hot with steamed rice or bread.

Serves four to six people.

Rikki Dee and mom Lisa

Rikki Dee has been in the food industry for more years than he can remember. He’s the man behind Tim Ho Wan, Kam’s Roast and Hawker Chan, all acclaimed by Michelin, Europe’s #1 Frozen Yogurt brand llaollao along with his other famous restaurants MESA Filipino Moderne and other homegrown brands POUND x Flatterie and Sunnies Café that are located in 68 SM Supermalls. His sons now form part of the Foodee management team, and Rikki turns to his own mother and his youth, for this Pata Tim recipe.

“This is one of mom’s recipe that is so comforting. It may have different versions or it may just get to closest but never the same as my mom’s gelatinous and fork-tender recipe and I guess it’s the memory of growing up to my mom’s cooking that makes it really deeliciously good,” said Rikki.

Patatim by Lisa Dee 


  • ginger
  • garlic
  • leek
  • rock sugar
  • light soy sauce
  • dark soy sauce


1. Use pata front and marinade in soy sauce.
2. In a hot wok, quick fry the marinated pork until golden brown.
3. Then on a separate wok add all ingredients and water.
4. Simmer until tender for approximately 60 minutes.

Eli Antonino and mom Luwalhati

Eli Antonino is a co-founder of the Moment Group, Manam, 8 Cuts, Din Tai Fung, and Ooma at several SM malls. For this feature, Eli turned to the Beef Mechado of her mother, Luwalhati Antonino.

“My mom is honestly one of the best cooks I know,” shared Eli. “The only issue is she never cooks with a recipe. I had to watch her and take notes myself. When I lived in New York, her visits always meant my kitchen was no longer mine. She would cook Pinoy dishes using produce from the local market. She would add broccoli to her bulalo and watermelon to her sinigang.”

A few days before she left, Luwalhati would make mechado, kare kare, adobo, tapa, and sinigang. She would fill Eli’s freezer with comfort food for him to heat “when I missed a taste of home.”

“I tried making this recipe recently, but unfortunately, it’s not the same as mom’s,” said Eli. “Compared to other mechado where the sauce is a bit loose, the sauce in this recipe is thick—perfect to blanket steamed white rice. It serves four to six people.”

Pro tip: use patis and chopped sili as a sawsawan on the side—this is optional but highly recommended.

Beef Mechado by Luwalhati Antonino


  • 1 kg beef oyster blade (kalitiran)
  • 1 clove garlic, cubed
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and minced
  • 5 ripe tomatoes, blanched in hot water, peeled, chopped, and seeds removed
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dried oregano
  • fresh basil leaves
  • chopped fried potatoes to serve


  1. Heat a little oil in a deep pan over medium heat and sear beef. Set aside.
  2. In the same pan, sauté garlic, onions, and tomatoes. Put back seared meat into the pan and sauté together.
  3. Add light soy sauce, water, and tomato paste. Simmer until beef is tender.
  4. When done, add sugar and season with salt and pepper. Add dried oregano and basil.
  5. Simmer for another three minutes.

Serve with fried potatoes.

Tasty tip: This is best served with fish sauce and chopped red bird’s eye chili as a condiment.

Juana Manahan-Yupangco with mom Tats and sister Lilianna

Juana Manahan-Yupangco, through her Mesa ni Misis, continues to champion homegrown Filipino vegetables and to support our farmers.

She has a Master’s degree in Global Food Security and Nutrition and is a staunch supporter of the SM Sunday Market, which promotes farm-to-table local produce. Here’s a meat-free recipe that’s still loaded with flavor.

“I learned this recipe from my mom. When we were kids, she used to serve this with fried chicken,” recalled Juana.

Mexican Rice 


  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1 tsp onions
  • 3 cups cooked white rice or red rice
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • ½ cup fresh tomatoes
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1 cup beans (any kind)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a pan, heat a little oil. Stir-fry the garlic and onions until they are transparent.
  2. Add in the rice.
  3. Slowly add the tomato sauce and tomato paste.
  4. Mix in the corn and the beans.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.

* * *

Editor’s Note: This article was provided by SM Supermalls.