Ready For The Hot Summer? Deep-Fried Halo-Halo


(This post first appeared in Positively Filipino)

Having lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for almost 25 years, I have been exposed to the rich international cuisine that is one of the marks of its cultural diversity. Food from Europe, South America, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific are plenty.

It was in the Bay Area that I tasted my first mochi ice cream, fried ice cream and garlic ice cream.

So when I first heard of deep-fried halo-halo being served as a specialty in a restaurant in La Union, I immediately became a doubting Thomas.

How can this shaved ice-based snack be fried and still give me the cool and refreshing pleasure of this popular Filipino delicacy filled with all the sweet ingredients? And so began my kitchen adventure for my deep-fried halo-halo.

It’s just perfect for the warm summer weather!


12 pcs. lumpia (egg roll) wrapper
1 boiled saging na saba, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup garbanzo beans
1/4 cup kaong (sugar palm fruit)
1/4 cup nata de coco (coconut gel)
1/4 cup ube jam
2 tbsps brown sugar
Oil for deep-frying
You favorite flavor ice cream


Place a slice of the saba and 3 to 4 pcs each of the garbanzo beans, kaong and nata de coco on top of two lumpia wrappers. Add a half-teaspoon of the ube jam on top of the other ingredients.

Fold and roll the wrapper like you would normally do for your regular lumpia. Moisten and seal the edge of the wrapper.

Heat oil. Sprinkle brown sugar over the oil. Deep-fry the egg rolls in batches until nicely browned and crispy. Remove from heat, let cool before slicing each egg roll diagonally.

Arrange the sliced egg rolls on a saucer or ice cream bowl and top with a scoop or two of your favorite ice cream. If desired, garnish the plate with additional banana slices, kaong, nata de coco and ube jam.

Coca Salad


I call it ‘Coca Salad’ for short.  I’m sure you’ve heard of it in a different name.  But yes, it’s simply a salad of coconut, cantaloupe and nata de coco (coconut gel) in a creamy dressing. Nicely chilled, it’s quite refreshing especially in the hot summer months.

Preparation can either be tedious or quick, depending on how and where you source your ingredients.  You can buy your young coconut already grated by the vendor or you can do it yourself, along with the cantaloupe which you will also need to grate.  The dressing involves a quick simmer of condensed milk and cream.

If you can’t find nata de coco, you can easily substitute it with any flavor of gelatin.

You can also decide to be more fancy by adding pinipig crunch (pounded rice flakes) and even a scoop of your favorite ice cream!


¾ cup condensed milk
¾ cup all-purpose cream
1 tsp cornstarch
1 large ripe cantaloupe, grated
1 fresh coconut, grated, with coconut water reserved
1 cup nata de coco, drained


Combine grated coconut, cantaloupe and nata de coco in a bowl and set aside.

In a small pan, combine condensed milk and all-purpose cream. Heat over low temperature and simmer for a few minutes, constantly stirring. Dissolve cornstarch in the juice of the coconut and add to the cream mixture. Continue to simmer until the mixture thickens.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Pour cooled dressing over the coconut, cantaloupe and nata de coco. Toss well and place in the refrigerator to chill for a few hours and until ready to serve.


Spaghetti Lumpia (Spaghetti Eggroll)

IMG_8106.JPGAdmit it. Whenever you make spaghetti, you always end up with lots of leftover. So rather than recycle your lunch or dinner, why not create a totally new dish. Like eggrolls. Spaghetti eggrolls.

I’ve said this before: you can use almost any kind of filling for your egg roll — from meats, to vegetables to fruits.  So why not your leftover sweet Filipino spaghetti?

And if you happen to have our TINAPA SPAGHETTI as leftover, go for it and make them into crunchy eggrolls!

And who’s to say how and when to serve them? As appetizer, side dish, snack or dessert!


Leftover sweet Filipino spaghetti (Recipe HERE)

Eggroll wrappers

Olive oil for frying

Parmesan cheese for garnish


Place a spoonful of leftover spaghetti on an eggroll wrapper and roll and seal as you would with regular eggrolls.

Heat Olive oil in a pan over medium heat.

Fry eggrolls until crispy and golden brown.

Remove from heat and set on a plate lined with paper towel to drain excess oil.

Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan chees

Rice Cooker Banana Walnut Bread

imageI’ve said it many times before.  I love to cook, but baking cakes and breads is not in my league. But guess what, using the very same rice cooker I use to prepare rice and some steamed dishes, I can make me some sweet and nutty banana bread.  You read that right — a rice cooker bread! Once you’ve tried preparing this recipe, you will open yourself (and your rice cooker) to endless possibilities.


3 large bananas, mashed

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

3/4 cups brown palm sugar

2 tsps baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup melted butter

1/4 cup milk

1 egg

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Cooking oil


In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk until the ingredients are well mixed. Add the bananas, butter, milk, and egg. Mix well to form a nice batter. Add walnuts. Using a paper towel, coat the inside of the rice cooker pot with Olive oil (this will prevent the bread from sticking to the pot). Pour the batter into the pot, cover, and turn the rice cooker on. Cook until the rice cooker automatically turns off. (Depending on your rice cooker, you may need a couple or more cycles.  If the cooker turns off, wait a few minutes for it to cool down before turning it on again.) Remove from heat and turn the pot upside down against a large plate to release the bread. If desired, sprinkle some powdered sugar on top of the bread before serving.

Haupia In Honor Of The 44th U.S. President

imageToday is Presidents’ Day when we honor the legacies of great U.S. Presidents, and why not, the 44th president, Hawaii-born Barack Obama.  Haupia is a favorite dessert of the Hawaiian islands and is ever present at luaus and celebrations where food is served.

It is a very easy coconut-based recipe. Unlike most cakes and desserts, there is no baking required.  Since this is a special day, I’ve chosen to make it a little more fancy by topping it with toasted coconut flakes and cocktail cherries. Here’s to Presidents’ Day!image


1/2 cup coconut milk

1  3/4 tsp cornstarch

A pinch or two of salt

1 tbsp white sugar

1/2 cup coconut flakes

6 pcs. cocktail cherries


Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add coconut flakes and toast until slightly brown. Remove from heat and set aside. In a medium sauce pan, combine cornstarch, sugar and salt.  Pour in 1/4 of the coconut milk and stir until smooth.  Add the rest of the coconut milk and bring to a quick boil.  Reduce heat to low and let simmer, stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth and creamy.  Pour mixture into a baking dish or casserole and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour.  When ready to serve, cut into 6 individual slices and garnish each slice with toasted coconut flakes and a cherry.

Maruya: Banana Fritters

Bananas –specifically “cooking bananas” (think plantains or cardaba bananas) are a popular ingredient in many street foods and snacks in the Philippines. It is quite common to encounter rolling carts or makeshift sidewalk stalls where vendors sell banana cue (whole fried bananas dipped in brown sugar and sold in bamboo skewers), or turon (fried banana egg rolls). Then there is the Maruya, or banana fritters, which is also commonly served as dessert fare in many restaurants, and is often paired with local ice cream. The amount of white sugar that is sprinkled over the fritters depends on how sweet the ripe bananas are. If desired, you can substitute the sugar with honey.  You might also choose to be more fancy with a sprinkle of grated coconut.


2 ripe saba (cardaba) bananas, peeled and sliced lengthwise (3 slices per banana)

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup milk

1 egg

Salt to taste

1 cup olive oil for frying

1/3 to 1/2 cup white sugar (depending on how sweet the ripe bananas are)


In a mixing bowl, beat the egg and add the flour, baking power, milk and salt. Whisk until the batter is free of lumps. Dip the banana slices, making sure they are evenly coated with the batter.  Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add in 3 slices of the bananas, forming a “fan.” Brown fritter on either side.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Repeat the process with the remaining bananas.  Transfer the fritters onto a serving plate (if desired, lined with a banana leaf).  Sprinkle sugar over the fritters and serve warm.

Key Lime Pie

 Believe it or not, Florida is much more than the hanging chads. It’s a beautiful state. While I am partial to California and Hawaii, I think Florida has some of the most beautiful beaches in the U.S. Driving through its freeways is quite a visual experience, complete with palm trees and greenery on either side. Driving through the scenic route by the coast is an absolute bonus.

Last week, my friend visiting from Germany and I drove from Atlanta, Georgia to Miami, Florida — and back — making stops in Orlando, Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Hollywood (yes, they have a Hollywood in Florida, where my sister lives). We stayed a couple days in South Beach after our Bahamas cruise. I’ve never really explored the beaches of South Beach in my past visits  there until this time around. Quite impressive!

Dining in South Beach is always a great experience, except for some ridiculous prices for a Mojito on Ocean Drive.  $16 for a Mojito served in a plastic cup!!!!

If there is one thing that I always think of when I hear “Florida,” it’s the key lime pie.  You don’t have the right to say you’ve been to Florida unless you’ve had this awesome dessert. Or snack. Or meal 🙂


5 egg yolks, beaten

1 can, sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup key lime juice

One  9-inch pie crust


Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In  a bowl, mix the beaten egg yolk, condensed milk and lime juice.

Pour mixture into the pie crust. Cover the ends of the pie crust with foil to prevent burning when baking.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Let stand for a few minutes or put in the refrigerator to cool.

When ready to serve, garnish with lime slices and if desired, with chocolate syrup.