Arroz caldo along with goto and other noodle soups are popular entrees at carenderias (local eatery where customers choose from a selection of cooked meals from a counter, pay and bring their food to their table) and tapsilogan (breakfast places usually open whole day) in the Philippines.
I think arroz caldo's appeal goes above and beyond. I remember when I took my husband (boyfriend then) to his first arroz caldo experience in the Philippines. It was a rainy evening and he wasn't feeling well then. I told him mothers in the Philippines usually serve rice porridge to a family member when the latter is ill. I wasn't surprised that he loved the arroz caldo! I remember asking for more toasted garlic for our arroz caldo bowls.
Anyway, here's the arroz caldo recipe I adapted from Zamboanga City's famous Amigos y Amigas carenderia:
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 8 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 tbsp. ginger, some chopped and some julienned
- 1 1/2 lbs. chicken, cut into serving pieces with skin and bone in *
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp. fish sauce
- 2 cups sticky rice *
- 6-8 cups water
- Pinch of saffron
- Hard-boiled egg (optional)
- Toasted garlic
- Chopped spring onion
- Sliced calamansi or lemon
- Chicharon or pork cracklings (optional)
- Heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat and saute the garlic, onion and ginger.
- Add the chicken and lightly sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Season with fish sauce and continue cooking until meat is lightly browned.
- Add the sticky rice and stir until lightly browned. Don't burn the rice grains!
- Pour in water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30-45 minutes stirring occasionally to prevent rice grains from sticking at the bottom of the pan.
- Adjust seasonings (fish sauce, salt and pepper) to taste. Add saffron.
- Serve in a bowl and garnish with hard-boiled egg, toasred garlic, spring onion and calamansi/lemon.
How to make toasted garlic:
- Heat 1/3 cup of oil in a pan over low heat.
- Add 1/2 cup of minced garlic. Adjust the heat making sure that the garlic is not burning. The secret here is to slowly toast the garlic in oil over low heat.
- When the garlic is golden brown, drain and spread on a plate lined with paper towel to absorb excess oil.
- Leftover chicken adobo can also be used in arroz caldo.
- For a leaner arroz caldo, use boneless and skinless chicken breast.
- A half and half mixture of sticky rice and regular grain rice can also be used.
- Instead of topping the arroz caldo with hard-boiled egg, chicharon or pork cracklings can also be used for a richer taste.
- Arroz caldo is usually served with tokwa't baboy (fried tofu and pork slices) on the side.