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.

Bitter Melon Beef


Despite its nutritional benefits, not a lot of people incorporate bitter melon into their diet, except perhaps for the Chinese, Filipinos and others in Asia.  Sure, it is one of those “acquired tastes,” but there are ways to temper the bitter quality of this vegetable.  I, for one, hated bitter melon when I was growing up!

For this recipe, I simply cooked bitter melon with thinly-sliced beef strips, sautéed them in garlic, onions and tomatoes, added soy sauce, sugar and some spices, and … pineapple.

Of course, the pineapple is optional, but for those who are just now venturing into the taste of bitter melon, it might be a good compromise.


One large bitter melon fruit, seeded and sliced into crescents

1/2 lb, thinly-sliced beef strips, cut into bite-sized pieces

3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

1 small onion, sliced

1 small tomato, chopped

1 cup pineapple chunks or tidbits

Salt and pepper to taste

2-3 tbsps soy sauce

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp Olive oil

Sesame seeds for garnish (optional)


Heat Olive oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and cook until golden brown. Add onions and cook until fragrant.  Add tomatoes and cook for another minute.  Add beef slices and cook until nicely browned. Add bitter melon and sauté until nicely green and tender.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add water and cook for three minutes. Reduce heat to low and add in soy sauce and sugar. Add in pineapple slices. Let simmer  for another three minutes. Remove from heat and serve warm with steamed rice.  Garnish with sesame seeds.

Mango Chayote Salad

img_9406I love sweet mangoes.  They’re quite abundant year-round in the Philippines, except that I still haven’t mastered the art of knowing whether what I am about to purchase are sweet or more on the sour side.  I am sure it’s a combination of smelling, touching, and luck!

I was given a bunch of ripe mangoes that I thought would pass my standard of sweetness.  Alas, in a scale of one to ten — with ten as the sweetest — they registered at about 4.5.  So what was I to do?

Well, I was planning to prepare my favorite chayote (sayote) leaves salad which I would just blanche then toss with salt and vinegar then garnish with sliced tomatoes and onions.

Then I thought about adding the semi-sour mangoes to the mix, thinking that the dressing for my salad would temper the sour taste of the mangoes.

And so the rest is history.  I now have a slightly different recipe for my chayote salad that would come very handy every time I’d peel a not-so-sweet ripe mango!


One bunch of chayote leaves and tips, separated from the stems, and thoroughly washed

One tbsp, white vinegar (or more if desired)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 medium onion, sliced

Two medium tomatoes, sliced or quartered

One large ripe mango, peeled and sliced


In a large salad bowl, add the chayote leaves and pour boiling water over them.  Toss with a tong and make sure the leaves are evenly blanched.  Blanche for 2-3 minutes and drain.  Add the tomatoes and onions.  Mix well.  Add the vinegar, salt and pepper, then toss. Add the mango slices on top of the salad.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or until ready to serve.

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.


Pineapple Pork With Vegetables

img_6260Got some pineapple? Then be prepared to cook up a semi-gourmet and colorful meal with a mixture of ground pork and vegetables.

This recipe is akin to picadillo with a few extras.

Just gather your ground pork, some potatoes and carrots, red and green bell peppers, raisins and of course your pineapple.

Whether you’re a bread person or a rice person, this easy-to-make dish will surely  brighten up your dining table. And let’s just say, sweeten it too!


1/2 lb ground, lean pork

4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced into tiny cubes

1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into tiny cubers

1 small green bell pepper,  cut into tiny squares

1 small red bell pepper, cut into tiny squares

1 small onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

1/2 cup raisins

3-4 sliced pineapple

1/2 cup pineapple juice

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsps soy sauce

2 tbsps Olive oil


Brown the ground pork in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In the same pan, heat Olive oil.  Add garlic to brown.  Add onions and cook until tender. Add back the ground pork. Add potatoes, carrots, bell peppers and pineapple juice. Continue to cook until the vegetables are tender but still crisp,  stirring constantly. Add soy sauce and reduce to a simmer.  Add raisins.  Remove from heat. Transfer to a serving platter and top with the pineapple slices.









What’s That Purple Color In My Eggroll?

imageI’ve concluded long time ago that one can make eggrolls out of anything — pork, chicken, beef, vegetables and fruit.

In the Philippines, one particular eggroll is popular as a snack or dessert.  It’s called turon which basically contains banana of the saba variety.  Some variations include other local fruits like jackfruit.

But I was intrigued one day to find a recipe that included purple yam in the egg roll, specifically the jam that’s quite popular in my hometown of Baguio City.  It’s called ube halaya in the local dialect.

So I did prepare this in my kitchen and I’m afraid I’m going to be hooked with this recipe.

Note: Brown sugar is usually added to the eggrolls and is carmelized to add sweetness.  But I skipped the sugar because the purple yam jam already provides the needed sweetness.


3 bananas of the saba variety, peeled and sliced lengthwise (if using smaller eggroll wrappers, you can slice each banana crosswise, then lengthwise to make 4 pieces)

A teaspoon of purple yam jam for every eggroll

6-12 eggroll wrappers (depending on ther size of the wrapper and the number of slices you’ve made of the bananas0

Olive oil for frying


Take one eggroll wrapper and place it on a plate or clean surface.  Place a teaspoon of the jam in the center of the wrapper.  Place a slice of banana in the lower third of the wrapper. Fold in the left and right sides of the wrapper before rolling it away from you.  Seal the end of the wrapper by moistening with water.  Repeat process for the rest of the eggrolls.

Heat Olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.  Fry the eggrolls, making sure they’re nicely browned on either side.  Remove from heat and set on a plate lined with paper tower to drain excess oil.

Serve warm and enjoy!



Simply, Buko Salad

imageIn hot and humid weather like what I’m currently experiencing in Manila, nothing could be more refreshing than having a chilled fruit salad. I am not necessarily a fan of those fancy fruit salads that contain all the fruits you can ever imagine — from A to Z.

The best fruit salads are those that are simple and include only a few complementary ingredients.

One of those  is a simple buko (coconut) salad.  Again, one can include as many ingredients but for me, I choose to limit it to just a few.

Aside from shredded fresh coconut meat, I just included — for this recipe — shredded cantelope and pineapple chunks. Okay, I did include some cheese bits, but that’s it.

The dressing is a simple mixture of mayonnaise and milk, adjusted to your desired taste.

When consumed chilled, this salad can most certainly chop off a few degrees from the outside hot temperature.


Meat from one small to medium fresh coconut, shredded

1/2 canteloupe, shredded

3/4 cup pineapple chunks

1/2 cup cheese, sliced into tiny squares

3 tbsps mayonnaise

1/3 cup milk

1 tbsp brown sugar (optional)


In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients. Toss well.

Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.