Monday, August 10, 2009
Longing for a taste of the Philippines on a hot summer day, after I finally encountered some yellow plantains which was suitable as substitute for saba bananas, I finally made halo-halo. I made sweetened bananas (the old-fashioned way), sweetened white camote (the same variety we have in the Philippines, instead of the orange ones. I think the white ones are sweeter.), and sweetened adzuki beans. (For making these, my technique for the banana and camote are the same: cube then boil with enough water until soft enough when you bite into a piece, about 5 minutes or so, then drain the water, put back 1/4 cup into the pot and add 2 cups of sugar and boil another 5 minutes. I choose bananas that are not too ripe, but soft enough to dent when poked. If syrup is made before adding uncooked bananas/camote, you will not get them soft enough. For the beans, I soaked the beans for about 2 hours or so, then boiled for an hour on until soft, then did the same thing with the syrup. The bad thing was, some beans were soft, some were super chewy tough! Dunno why...)[Addendum as of 8/23/09: I also made sweetened white beans and garbanzos later. I bought 1 can of each, rinsed with cold water 3 times to get rid of some saltiness, then boiled until I was satisfied they would remain soft even with the addition of syrup. Then I made the syrup by mixing 1/4 cup sugar with 2 cups water and added the softened beans and garbanzos. I placed them in jars and had to wait about 2 days before they became sweet.] I had a jar each of kaong (palm seeds) and nata de coco. I made leche flan as topping. I still have ube haleya from a previously made batch. The only things I lacked were the colored sago and gulaman (I forgot to grab some bags of sago from the Asian store, and was too lazy to look up a recipe for gulaman made with agar-agar), macapuno (could not find one!), minatamis na garbanzos (chick pea), and minatamis na langka (because I was too eager to have halo-halo! I do have some canned jackfruit which I will cook to soften).
No, I don't like ice cream on my halo-halo. Never liked it. I also never liked the big ice chips that "Iceberg" (did I remember it right?) used on their "special" halo-halo that were full of colored kaong and gulaman and hardly anything else, topped with ice cream. I liked the halo-halo I used to buy from a neighbor, with ice that is as fine as snow, over a mix (halo-halo is literally mix-mix) of a teaspoon of each ingredient, with about 1 tbsp of white sugar, some evap milk poured over the ice, topped with leche flan, which I love eating by itself, not mixed in.
My son enjoyed his with some lengua de gato. (I am still in search of a recipe that is really crispy buttery. This batch I made for the first time were too tough for my taste when they totally cooled off.)
One dilemma I had was how to come up with the scraped ice because I did not have that gadget that we use in the Philippines. I did make a block of ice the night before, and had this idea of -- don't laugh! -- using the mandolin slicer to scrape the ice. It turned out ok, though slow, and I had to keep turning the block of ice every now and then so that the markings made by the towel would provide some traction which the blade would catch. Without those, the ice would just slide and slip.
My older son, after seeing what I was doing, and finally having a taste of the halo-halo (and realizing that that taste was familiar), suggested we get a snowcone maker (what a wonderful idea! I was quite reluctant, though, because my sis used to have a manually cranked plastic ice scraper that shook so hard it threatened to fall apart, that I would have wanted the old-fashioned pangkudkod ng yelo). But doing it the mandolin way was too slow most of the ice melted right away! So eventually, I sorted through the ones available in amazon and walmart, and made my choice. I will feature that summer gadget next.