When I was growing up in the Philippines, I would occasionally feign illness to miss a school day. My mother would then send our househelp to buy and bring back every type of food I could think of and one of my favorite requests was arroz caldo from the downtown wet market. Before she would leave for work, my mother would leave detailed instructions to our yaya on what times I will be taking my paracetemol and on when to warm up the arroz caldo for me. My mother has always been good that way, always bent on making her children happy. Did she know I was faking sickness? Of course.
Arroz caldo is the Filipino’s interpretation of congee. In this rice soup, chicken pieces (preferably bone-in) and rice are boiled in a ginger-based broth until the grains have disintegrated into porridge-like consistency. Fried garlic bits, chopped green onions and calamansi juice are added for additional layers of flavor. The gruel is more common as a midday merienda but as it often includes meat, eggs or seafood, it is substantial enough to serve as a meal on its own. Although I usually start arroz caldo with uncooked rice, you can substitute leftover steamed rice to cut through cook time. Enjoy and keep warm, my friends.
|Arroz Caldo|| || |
- 1 (3 pounds) whole chicken, cut into serving pieces
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 small onion, peeled and sliced thinly
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 4 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 cup uncooked rice
- 6 to 7 cups water
- 3 bouillon cubes
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 hardboiled eggs, peeled and halved
- fried garlic bits
- ¼ cup green onions, chopped
- calamansi or lemon, cut into wedges
- fish sauce
- ½ cup oil
- 1 head garlic, peeled and minced
- Trim unwanted fat from chicken, wash and drain well.
- In a pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add onions, ginger and garlic. Cook, stirring regularly, until limp and aromatic.
- Add chicken and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly browned and have rendered juices. Add fish sauce and continue to cook for around 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add rice and cook, stirring regularly, until rice starts to lightly brown. Add water and bring to a boil, skimming scum that floats to surface. Add bouillon cubes and stir to dissolve. Lower heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the rice has softened and the congee has thickened to desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Ladle on bowls. Add boiled egg and garnish with green onions and toasted garlic. Serve hot with calamansi and additional fish sauce on the side.
- In a small pan over low heat, heat oil. Add garlic and cook until golden and crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove toasted garlic and drain on paper towels.