When it’s summer in the Philippines, everybody thinks of halo-halo – a mixture of sweet beans, macapuno (sweet coconut meat), langka (jackfruit), pinipig (toasted and flattened glutenous rice), saba banana, sago (pearl balls) and sugar, filled with crushed ice and milk, and topped with ice cream, ube (sweet yam) and leche flan. Not me. I’ll pick saba con hielo over any other pinoy dessert on any given day. Call it whatever you like – minatamis na saging, banana with ice, saging con yelo. I just love this stuff.
It is also a sweet, refreshing and filling snack served in dad’s old carinderia. It is so easy to prepare it’s a common snack prepared by mom back home since we were kids. Of course, freshly plucked from dad’s banana trees. How fun can it get especially during hot summer days? It’s like working real hard and getting rewarded. You need shaved ice, right? Remember this kitchen tool that works like a hand planer? Pangkaskas ng yelo. When we were old enough to use one we toned few muscles for the shaved ice we need for saba con hielo. How much sweeter can it get?Too bad until now I haven’t found a single piece of saba here in Beijing or else I would be devouring a whole lot together with Cean who eats no other fruit except bananas.
This is how I remember it. Throw in whole ripe saba bananas into a pot of water with brown sugar and simmer until bananas are cooked and the syrup is thick. Serve yourself a saba or two (or three!) in a bowl, add shaved ice and evaporated milk and voila! Sarap talaga!