Monday, August 19, 2013

Arroz Caldo (Chicken and Rice Porridge)


Arroz Caldo is one of the most popular comfort food in the Philippines.  It is a chicken and rice porridge flavored with ginger, garlic, onion and fish sauce. It is similar to a congee. The dish has Chinese origins but the Spaniards gave it the name arroz caldo which means hot rice. Other related dishes to arroz caldo are goto and lugaw. Goto uses tripe, gizzard and/or chicken blood instead of chicken meat  while lugaw is just plain congee.

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:

Ingredients:

  • 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
Garnishing:
  • Hard-boiled egg (optional)
  • Toasted garlic
  • Chopped spring onion
  • Sliced calamansi or lemon
  • Chicharon or pork cracklings (optional)
Procedures:
  1. Heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat and saute the garlic, onion and ginger.
  2. 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.
  3. Add the sticky rice and stir until lightly browned. Don't burn the rice grains!
  4. 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.
  5. Adjust seasonings (fish sauce, salt and pepper) to taste. Add saffron.
  6. Serve in a bowl and garnish with hard-boiled egg, toasred garlic, spring onion and calamansi/lemon.
How to make toasted garlic:
  1. Heat 1/3 cup of oil in a pan over low heat.
  2. 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. 
  3. When the garlic is golden brown, drain and spread on a plate lined with paper towel to absorb excess oil.
* Variations:
  • 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.

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