Great Haluhalo Anytime!
Archie Modequillo (The Freeman) - September 6, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Cold treats are most often associated with the hot days, particularly summer. It is self-explanatory, of course. Especially in a tropical country like the Philippines, everyone craves for something to assuage the sweltering heat, whether in summer or at any time of the year.

One of the favorite heat-buster treats among Filipinos is the Haluhalo. This cold dessert or snack is a mixture of crushed ice, evaporated milk and various ingredients including, among others, ube, sweetened beans, young coconut strips, sago, gulaman (seaweed gelatin), pinipig rice, boiled root crops in cubes, fruit slices, flan, and topped with a scoop of ice cream. The best thing about this treat is that it is so easy to make – everything is just mixed together and, presto, it’s ready to be enjoyed!

But Haluhalo during the cold season? Yes! It may seem odd to be enjoying Haluhalo when the ambient temperatures are down, but it’s actually okay. Haluhalo lovers all over the country don’t have to fast from their favorite sweet treat.

Filipinos actually crave for Haluhalo at any time of the year.  It’s no wonder, though; the weather in the country is mostly hot, even during what’s supposedly cold season.  A sunny day would still frequently alternate with the downpours.

Now, there’s an interesting twist to the Haluhalo at Grain Restaurant of Diamond Hotel in uptown Cebu City. This version of the Haluhalo is – okay, this is hard to believe – fried! More incredibly, this Haluhalo is not even hot, although it’s not as cold as the usual Haluhalo.

Diamond Hotel’s “Fried Haluhalo” has all the ingredients of the usual Haluhalo – except for crushed ice. The ingredients are wrapped in a special homemade crepe that’s thin enough to turn crispy when fried. The crepe wrapper has a slight taste to it that significantly contribute to the unique overall taste of the Haluhalo.

It’s common knowledge what a good Haluhalo is made of – saba banana, leche flan, ube jam, gelatin, nata de coco, young coconut strips, sweet corn kernels, mango, evaporated milk, sugar, cooked root crops like camote and gabi, all soaked in a generous amount of crushed ice and sometimes topped with a scoop of ice cream. These are about the same ingredients, except for the crushed ice, that emerge when the “Fried Haluhalo” wrap is opened. The ice cream topping provides a dainty contrast to the texture of the warm and crispy crepe that holds everything together.

Oh, by the way, there’s probably no evaporated milk in Diamond Hotel’s “Fried Haluhalo,” otherwise the mix would be too watery for the thin crepe to hold. Nevertheless, there’s still a rich creaminess to the overall taste, which is still distinctly Haluhalo – but quite unique.  The cherry that roosts atop the scoop of ice cream is a visual signal that this “Fried Haluhalo” is a winner.

“Fried Haluhalo” is sure to be among the treats that Ms. Elena Pena, regular food writer here at The Freeman Lifestyle, will want to experiment making at home. Anyone who knows how to make the usual Haluhalo may also try to make the “fried” version. But there’s no guarantee that the home attempt will yield the same lovely taste as that of the “Fried Haluhalo” at Diamond Hotel.

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