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Halo-halo made in San Diego County, California.

Halo-halo, the Filipino word which means "mixture" or "mixed" (literally "mix-mix"), also spelled haluhalo, is a popular cold dessert in the Philippines made up of crushed ice, evaporated milk or condensed milk, and various ingredients including, ube, sweetened beans, coconut strips, sago, gulaman (agar), pinipig rice, boiled taro or soft yams in cubes, fruit slices, flan, and topped with a scoop of ube ice cream. Halo-halo is considered to be the dessert of the Philippines. By extension, the word has come to describe any object or situation that is composed of a similar, colorful mélange of ingredients.


The origin of halo-halo is said and believed to be traced to the pre-war Japanese Filipinos, and the Japanese kakigori class of desserts. One of the earliest versions of halo-halo was a dessert known locally as "mongo-ya" which consisted of only cooked red beans or mung beans with sugar, milk, and crushed ice. Over time, more native ingredients were added, resulting in the creation and development of the modern halo-halo.[1][2]

Some authors specifically attribute halo-halo to the 1920s or 1930s Japanese migrants in the Quinta Market of Quiapo, Manila, due to its proximity to the Insular Ice Plant, which was Quiapo's main ice supply.[3]

The spelling of "halo-halo" is considered to be incorrect by the Commission on the Filipino Language, which prescribes "haluhalo". The word is an adjective meaning "mixed in Tagalog, a reduplication of the Tagalog verb halo "to mix".


There is no correct set of ingredients for halo-halo as the ingredients can vary widely, but the dessert usually includes sugar palm fruit (kaong), coconut sport (macapuno), saba plantains cooked in syrup (minatamis na saging), jackfruit (langkâ), agar jellies (gulaman), tapioca pearls, nata de coco, sweet potato (kamote), sweetened beans, cheese, pounded toasted young rice (pinipig), and ice cream. The ingredients are placed in specific positions; the fruit, beans and other sweets are placed at the bottom, followed by shaved ice and is then topped with either a combination of leche flan, ube halaya (mashed purple yam) or ice cream. Evaporated milk or condensed milk is poured into the mixture upon serving.

A similar Visayan dessert binignit is also referred to as "ginataang halo-halo" in Tagalog ("halo-halo in coconut milk"), commonly shortened to "ginataan". It is made with mostly the same ingredients, although the latter is usually served hot.[4][5]

In popular culture

Halo-halo was featured in an episode of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown when its host Anthony Bourdain visited a Jollibee branch in Los Angeles. Bourdain praised the dessert and posted a photo of the dessert on his Twitter account, which he captioned, "oddly beautiful."[6][7]

Halo-halo was also featured as a Quickfire Challenge dish in the seventh episode of the fourth season of the American reality television series, Top Chef. Filipino-American contestant Dale Talde, prepared the dessert which featured avocado, mango, kiwifruit, and nuts. Talde then was named as one of the top three Quickfire Challenge dishes by guest judge Johnny Iuzzinni of Jean Georges. Talde also made the dish in a later episode.[8]

Buko halo, a combination of halo-halo and buko salad, usually served directly on coconut shells

The dessert was featured on a Delicious Destinations edition episode of Bizarre Foods.[9]

See also


Further reading

External links

  1. Japanese origins of the Philippine 'halo-halo'.
  2. Halo-Halo Graham Float Recipe.
  3. Crisol, Christine (2006). "A Halo-Halo Menu", in Zialcita, Fernando N.: Quiapo: Heart of Manila. Quiapo Printing. ISBN 978-971-93673-0-7. “Today, many non-Quiapense informants in their forties and older associate the Quinta Market with this dessert. Why did this market become important in the invention of this dessert? Aside from its being a Japanese legacy in the area [...] of all the city markets, the Quinta was closest to the ice.” 
  4. Ginataang Halo-halo Recipe (Binignit).
  5. Ginataan Halo-Halo.
  6. News, ABS-CBN (2013-04-22). Anthony Bourdain tries Jollibee halo-halo (en).
  7. Flores, Helen. Jollibee in LA gets thumbs up. The Philippine Star.
  8. The Restaurant. Taldebrooklyn.com.
  9. Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern#Season 18 - Delicious Destinations (Season 3.29