Every once in a while, we get a hankering for halo-halo and we set out a “Halo-halo Buffet” at home consisting of bottled beans, macapuno, kaong, nata, etc. or homemade ingredients such as minatamis na saging, halo2ube jaleya, langka, etc. Once everyone has picked the stuff they like (amazing how many folks can’t stand one ingredient or the other yet love others with a passion), we shave lots and lots of ice and get out the can of evaporated milk and, of course, the ice cream and sometimes the leche flan to add even more calories and richness to the halo-halo. While traditionally halo-halos in The Philippines seem to be served in tall fluted or float type glasses (a throwback to American soda shops perhaps), I actually think it works best when served in a wide-mouthed bowl. It’s so much easier to mix everything and fish out the stuff you want to eat when it is served in a bowl. In the photo at right, I actually tried to serve the halo-halo in a small cylindrical flower vase…though it looked good, it was still a pain to scoop out the stuff. This dessert has closely related cousins across much of Southeast Asia…in Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia they have all sorts of beans and fruits also in an ice bath as a refreshing snack.

But what is even more interesting is that this dessert can’t be more than say 100 or so years old because we didn’t have easy access to ice before then. In fact, I think I read an interesting article once that we used to get ice transported from North America in big blocks of ice on ships that slowly haloo3melted but by the time it got here, it was still enough to be sold and enjoyed by the upper classes. Amazing, huh? Actually, I can’t imagine life without ice…my Diet Cokes would all be warm??? Yipes! My ideal halo halo is heavy on the minatamis na saging, good macapuno, homemade ube jaleya, some langka, lots of kaong (I actually like the uncolored version more), some nata, a few beans, lots of ice and ube ice cream. Nix the leche flan, I find it too over the top. There is something very therapeutic about mixing everything up and watching the milky, creamy concoction turn purplish from the ice cream or the ube jam. If there is fresh pinipig that adds another textural layer to the dessert as well. I find if you use a lot more stuff that is homemade, the whole thing isn’t so cloyingly sweet and it is jampacked with flavor, texture and good old fashioned yumminess. Marketman tip – place all of your ingredients in the fridge several hours before you serve them, the cold ingredients will result in a slower melt for your shaved ice. Oh, and the ice MUST be shaved, no big chunks, please!

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18 Responses

  1. A definitely “to die for halo-halo” even in the middle of winter (it’s 13 degrees celcius now in Oz).

  2. I like mine only with little bit of beans as possible, definitely ube jaleya, leche flan, sweetened bananas, lots of kaong and macapuno, some versions have tapioca in it ( I like that too), langka, ice cream and definitely gotta have the good old fashion pinipig. No cornflakes please, which I’ve seen a lot of Filipino restaurants use! Yikes!

  3. We are having a heat wave here and the craving for halo halo is intensifying by the minute.

    That first photo wins awards for still art.

  4. its sooo hot now in l.a. that we too made halohalo using bottled ingredients,like ube, macapuno, langka, beans we did not have any homemade saging as this is just a spur of the moment thing while we were doing the marketing at the Filipino store. ahh so refreshing with some biscocho

  5. I like your combination of ingredients for Halo-halo except for the Kaong which can sometimes be hard and actually take out the enjoyment of eating. It’s like you are tasting each and every morsel of fruit and chewing slowly when all at once soemthing hard hits your tooth and for one brief moment you have to spit it out. I actually like the “drink” that comes out from the melted icecream and shaved ice. It’s a cool drink and I actually scoop it out to the last drop.

  6. I say that it was the Japanese who introduced the halo halo to us, most possibly in the 1920s or 30s. There were many Japanese who came to the Philippine during that time and they opened refreshment parlors. It’s a traditional Japanese treat to served beans and syrup on shaved ice. In fact when I went to Tokyo once, I tried a halo-halo like concoction called Amitsu.

  7. where can one buy a good ice shaver? the one we have at home can hardly shave–it takes a lot of arm work to get it going…

    i love my halohalo with a lot of crunch–the pinipig and the corn flakes! i don’t like kaong or nata de coco. but the 1st pic is making me drool!

  8. Mandy, we just buy those super cheap ice shavers at SM Home Departments and when the blade gets dull, throw it out and replace. Better than the more expensive ones that are a pain to store and you feel bad about the cost! Anson, interesting…I wouldn’t have guessed that possibility with the Japanese… but the ice definitely came with the Americans earlier…it’s application into a halo-halo came later.

  9. I was not brave enough to try halo-halo. Normally, it’s the balut that causes quite a scare in foreign tourists. Anyway, I just couldn’t get past the odd concoction of beans and gelatin and ice and fruit. It looked pretty, but my unadventurous side decided to go with the more “normal” mango shake (oh, and those mango shakes at South Seas in Dumaguete are the best desserts I have ever had).

    By the way, what is in that top photo? I know at least one of those items is fruit, but can’t identify the rest. Hence, the main reason I didn’t try halo-halo…I just didn’t know what all the colored, shiny stuff was in there. I know I’m missing out because I have heard Americans tell me it is delicious, nonetheless :)

  10. our favorite halo-halo place here in davao, aling foping’s, lets you choose which goodies you want thrown in, and you can even have double dips of whatever your favorites are. the other bonus is the ice, which is shaved very finely, like ice monster’s. it’s a regular friday night treat for me and hubby and friends. tara, MarketMan, come to Davao for Kadayawan, we’ll take you to our favorite eating spots all over.

  11. millet, that sounds tempting…I have only been to Davao once, and purchased a lot of Mother of Pearl in the market… Corey, the ingredients of a proper halo-halo include sweetened white beans, red mung beans, sometimes chickpeas. The colored stuff is usually coconut based sweets made from fresh coconuts, sometimes fermented or processed. There are also macapuno strips, stewed bananas, purple yam jam, jackfruit, etc.

  12. your pictures are great! i can almost smell them! :) we make our halo-halo with lots of home made macapuno, sweetened red munggo and garbanzos. we can’t resist the leche flan which are cubed into small pieces and topped with vanilla ice cream. we, however, skip the milk. if you have that japan-made ice shaver…use it! it really produces the finest shaved ice on earth. it’s true. the halo-halo becomes the best experience when the ice is shaved as finely as possible.

  13. yup, just send me an e-mail. durian sans rival,durian cheesecake,and all the eats this town has to offer. although it looks like the peak of the fruit harvests may be later than the festival…i hope not!

  14. Just last weekend, we attended a make-your-own halo halo event at the Filipino restaurant in Soho. They set up a bar where you could ladle your own ingredients, and then they just put the ice, milk, ice cream, pinipig, and leche flan for you. It was interesting to see how we all differed in what ingredients each one got the most or the least of! My halo halo memories from childhood back home involves the vendor ladling the ingredients into the glass, then uncovering the block of ice, which was covered in “sako”, when sacks of rice were still made of natural fabric and not plastic, and the ice still had bits of rice husk sticking to it, again rice husks used to stop the ice from melting too quickly. Then the ice scraper was this gray metal thing that looked like a plane to sand down wood. We would bring our own glasses and not use the vendors glasses. I consider myself lucky that my parents let us eat street food, and my palate is all the more richer for it! I also remember someone telling me halo halo was brought by the japanese, (and since they have red bean ice cream, that made sense to me!)

  15. Wow! Impressive ang photos ng favourite ko—halo-halo! Yep, the kaong, macapuno and beans sometimes are so hard, it turns me off. ‘Yang mga imports from P.I., if not a good brand, matitigas talaga. Dito sa Canada it’s hard to find a good eatery that sells good halo-halo (peborit ko w/ halaya, leche flan, pinipig, mangga and jackfruit). MIss ko na ‘pinas!

  16. My visit to Kidapawan is worth remembering because of my discovery of a unique halo halo.You should try the flavorful durian halo-halo of GA-LOR FARMS at Lanao Crossing,Kidapawan City ,Cotabato. . It is so yummy & heavenly delicious !!!! They own the durian farm where they get their finest ingredients and homemade it to perfection.Try it…. and also their famous durian pastillas & jams.

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