“The traditional halo halo normally contains seven or eight components including crushed ice, beans, jellies, nuts, puffed rice, and much more,” says Top Chef Canada finalist Chef Mark Singson. “For this version, I’ve simplified the components to four and looked to my home of Vancouver for inspiration.”
Chef Mark’s halo halo uses the beautiful local stone fruit of British Columbia as a garnish. “But during the fall months, I might use pumpkin or whatever else inspires me from the area,” he adds. “If you’re in a rush, this is a perfect dessert since all ingredients can be made ahead of time.”
Chef Mark’s halo halo is featured in the second volume of Culinary Perspectives, a global digital cookbook produced by Japanese luxury carmaker, Lexus, and can be downloaded for free here.
It’s a little complicated to make, involves tequila, olive oil and the rather exotic tonka bean, a legume from South Africa. It’s most likely just inspired by the essence of the halo halo because most of his ingredients have never shown up in the halo halos we’ve had in our lifetimes. We’ve included the recipe below just in case you’re up for a challenge.
Chef Mark, who was in Top Chef in 2018, refined his skills in esteemed kitchens in Canada. He’s worked in restaurants such as Boneta and AnnaLena in Vancouver and Vue de monde and Saint Crispin in Melbourne. His time in these establishments is said to have inspired him in his independent career as a private chef.
In the Lexus cookbook, Chef Mark is joined by a list of world-renowned chefs, among them Ricardo Sanz of Kabuki in Madrid, Nick Martinez of Intersect by Lexus in New York, Dean Fearing of the Ritz Carlton, Dallas, and many more. The ten recipes in the collection provide a menu for a multi-course meal across a range of difficulty levels that can be mastered by novice chefs or expert culinary architects in the comfort of their homes.
Lexus Creates: Culinary Perspectives Volume 2 was written by Joshua David Stein, a James Beard Award-nominated author whose work has appeared in the Best American Food Writing, and a former restaurant critic for the Village Voice and New York Observer. He has been the editor-in-chief of Blackbook magazine and a senior editor at Departures, Eater and Black Ink magazines.
To learn more, visit the Lexus website at lexus.com.ph or visit the social media pages on Facebook and Instagram @lexusmanila
Halo Halo My Way by Chef Mark Singson
For the stewed cherries:
200g fresh pitted cherries 20g brown sugar
1 pinch salt
For the lime tonka granita:
4 limes, juiced and zested
1 tonka bean, roughly chopped 600g water
60g white sugar
For the slivered almonds:
1 tablespoon olive oil
50g slivered almonds (toasted until burnt, but not too burnt that it’s not pleasant)
FOR THE CHERRIES:
Bring brown sugar and 100g water to a boil in a large pot. Add cherries, bring back to boil and turn down to simmer for 10-12 min. Add a pinch of salt, put aside to let cool.
FOR THE LIME TONKA GRANITA:
Bring white sugar and water to a boil, turn it down after the sugar has fully dissolved. Add chopped tonka bean, turn off the heat and let it infuse until the liquid has fully cooled down. Strain the liquid and add tequila, lime juice, zest into the cooled liquid. Make sure the liquid is cold, it will kill the freshness of the granita if you add while it’s hot.
Add cold liquid to large container that has a good surface area and fits in the freezer. The more surface area, the faster the liquid will freeze. Check the liquid every hour. As soon as it starts to freeze, scrape it with a fork. Repeat the process until all liquid has been formed into almost a crushed ice/sorbet consistency. This might take three to four hours depending on your freezer.
FOR THE GARNISH:
Toast slivered almonds in the oven at 350F for 10-15 min until dark brown, but not so dark that it’s too bitter. You just want to maximize the nuttiness and that gentle bitter note from almonds being toasted to darker than normal.
Put a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the middle of a bowl. Add cherries around the ice cream and burnt almonds over the cherries. Then pour granita over the cherries and almonds surrounding the ice cream. Finishing with olive oil adds a nice mouthfeel when cold but also adds a bitter, fruity, and nutty note to the dish to contrast with all the other components.