I admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of ginataang halo-halo back in childhood. From my experience, it was sometimes watery, sometimes the ingredients were scant, but most times it was cloying and cavity-inducing.
What is ginataang bilo-bilo?
Ginataang halo-halo is a common merienda or afternoon snack in the Philippines. But don’t be confused because it sometimes also goes by the name ginataang bilo-bilo (FYI, the Filipino language is replete with repetitions. ?).
Ginataang halo-halo comes in every form and color you can think of. It’s peddled on the sidewalks by street vendors and sold in numerous carinderias. Making ginataang halo-halo is the next order of business after the carinderia staff have cleared the tables after lunch.
Halo means mix in Filipino and ginataan means any food with gata or coconut milk. Bilo-bilo refers to the rice flour balls that’s one of the main ingredients of this merienda treat. The other usual ingredients include sliced saba (plantains), sago (tapioca balls), langka (jackfruit), kamote (sweet potatoes) in a creamy coconut sauce. While these are the usual ingredients, it’s not unheard of to add ube (purple yam) or gabi (taro) to the mix.
It had seemed fitting (to me at least) to post this recipe on the lead up to Lent. (But alas, work caught up with me and I am posting this recipe after Lent. ?♂️) I somehow correlate ginataang halo-halo with lazy afternoons and church-sponsored feeding programs. The ginataang halo-halo was often tinted violet, and served out of huge pots and ladled into thin, plastic cups.
To recreate this childhood snack, I bought some saba and sago from Lucky Plaza. I couldn’t decide on the size or color of the sago balls to use, but in the end I went with the small white ones. Pro tip: you only need about 100 grams of sago balls. ?
I was pleasantly surprised that I could buy ube powder here in Singapore. It opens up a ton of possibilities. Did you know that powdered ube is not purple at all but a grayish/purplish powder? Color me surprised (or naive). It smelled like ube though, but I had to add a few drops of ube flavoring for that intense purple color.
I forgot to buy some jackfruit but I had an excess of bananas. I sliced these up very thinly, like banana chips, and deep fried them like banana cue (deep fried bananas with brown sugar coating). They added a nice contrast to the soft consistency of the ginataang bilo-bilo and were pretty striking as garnish.Print
For more snacking options:
- Easy Cheesy Filipino Cheese Cupcakes
- Tablea Tsokolate (Filipino Hot Chocolate)
- Buttery Butterscotch Blondie Bars