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Vancouver chef: ‘I’ve simplified halo-halo’

Download it. Filipino-Canadian chef Mark Singson adds
the classic dessert to Lexus digital cookbook

Filipino-Canadian chef Mark Singson

FROM the humble ube to adobo, lechon, sisig, and lumpia, Filipino food now tickles the taste buds of foodies around the world. Now, it’s time for the classic halo-halo to shine—it was just featured in the second volume of Culinary Perspectives, a global digital cookbook produced by Japanese luxury carmaker Lexus.

“The traditional halo-halo normally contains seven or eight components including crushed ice, beans, jellies, nuts, puffed rice, and much more,” said 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. This recipe 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. If you’re in a rush, this is a perfect dessert since all ingredients can be prepared ahead of time.”

Drawing from his lively heritage and childhood years in Manila, Singson honed his skills in esteemed kitchens to honor Filipino cuisine. His stint on Top Chef Canada in 2018 challenged his culinary experience in restaurants such as Boneta and AnnaLena in Vancouver and Vue de monde and Saint Crispin in Melbourne. That experience inspired him into an independent career as private chef and to make dishes that leave a lasting impression.

Singson joins an exclusive list of world-renowned chefs—all culinary partners of Lexus—featured in the cookbook. They all shared recipes of enticing dishes enjoyed at Lexus events around the world.

Other recipes in the Culinary Perspectives cookbook include Tuna Tartare by Chef Ricardo Sanz of Kabuki, Madrid; Heirloom Tomato Salad by Chef Nick Martinez of Intersect by Lexus, New York; Warm Lobster Taco with Yellow Salsa by Chef Dean Fearing at the Ritz-Carlton, Dallas; Cured Squid with Chicken and Caviar by Chef Sergio and Javier Torres of Cocina Hermano Torres, Barcelona; Chawanmushi with Truffle Oil by Chef Leonardo Jun Sakamoto of Sakamoto in Sao Paolo; Spicy Miso Salmon with Broccoli Rice by Chef Reuben Riffel of Reuben’s in Johannesburg; Chilled Dandan Udon Noodles by Chef Matsuo Nagasaka of Azabu Choukou, Tokyo; Young Goose with Sauerkraut by Chef Zdenek Pohlreich of NextDoor by Imperial, Divinis Praha, and Café Imperial in Prague; and Chocolate Tart by Chef Emily Roux of Caractere in Notting Hill.

Introduced in July 2020, Culinary Perspectives is part of the social media-driven program called Lexus Creates, which aims to inform and delight with topics related to the Lexus brand hallmarks of design and craftsmanship.

Culinary Perspectives enables Lexus to connect with our audience on a topic of deep personal interest to them. We hope our audience will embrace this opportunity to explore their own epicurean artisanship,” said Brian Bolain, general manager, Lexus International.

The 10 recipes in the collection provide a menu for a multi-course meal across a range of difficulty levels

Creating food and elevating it to culinary art is fundamentally human; a highly evolved level of craftsmanship and thoughtfully detailed execution are basic pillars of the Lexus brand. The 10 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 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.

The cookbook’s foreword is by contributing writer Chef Nyesha J. Arrington, celebrated for her advocacy of recipes using farm-fresh, local, and responsibly sourced ingredients, and whose culinary approach is inspired by cultures, flavors, and techniques from around the world.  Bringing joy to eating is rooted in the anticipation of one’s need and the hospitality ethos of the Lexus brand known as omotenashi.

Lexus Creates: Culinary Perspectives Volume 2 is available for free download on https://www.lexus.com.ph/en/discover-lexus/lexus-creates/family-activities/culinary-perspectives.html

To learn more, visit the Lexus website at lexus.com.ph or visit the social media pages on Facebook and Instagram @lexusmanila

Halo Halo by Chef Mark Singson


For the stewed cherries

  • 200 g fresh pitted cherries
  • 20 g brown sugar
  • A pinch of salt

For the lime tonka granita

  • 4 limes, juiced and zested
  • 1 tonka bean, roughly chopped
  • 600 g water
  • 30 g tequila
  • 60 g white sugar

For the slivered almonds

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 50 g slivered almonds (toasted until burnt, but not too burnt that it’s not pleasant)


For the cherries

  • Bring brown sugar and 100 g water to a boil in a large pot. Add cherries, bring back to boil, and turn down to simmer for 10-12 minutes. Add 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 350oF for 10-15 minutes 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.

To serve

  • 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.

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