Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

halo-halo (literally ‘mix-mix’) is a speciality of the Philippines: a cooling snack of mixed fruit and beans, topped with finely crushed ice and milk or ice cream, which sometimes is taken for dessert. The mixture (from three to twelve items) may include: banana, jackfruit, coconut, sweet potato, red mung beans, chickpeas, sugar palm fruit (see palm sugar), purple yam jam, leche flan (crème caramel), gelatin, and in recent times sweet corn or corn crisps.

Halo-halo used to be sold by Japanese vendors in halo-halo parlours or from street stalls before the occupation of the Philippines in the 1940s. It is the fanciest of a range of popular refreshments with crushed ice which have their counterparts in other SE Asian countries, e.g. the Malaysian ice kachang and the Vietnamese xung sa hot Luu as well as the extensive array of Indonesian ‘ijs’ drinks. It is reasonable to suppose that they grew up spontaneously as a reaction to hot weather and the availability of ice. It has been suggested, however, that the Japanese summer drink, a shaved-ice cooler called anmitsu, may have been the model for some or all of them, including halo-halo itself.