Arroz Caldo is the ultimate comfort food. With flavorful chicken, ginger-flavored broth, and all the trimmings, this Filipino-style rice congee is hearty, tasty, and filling. Perfect for a midday snack or light meal.
When I was growing up in the Philippines, I would occasionally feign illness to miss a school day. My mother would then send our house help 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.
And before she would leave for work, she would leave detailed instructions on what times I will be taking my paracetamol 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.
What is Arroz Caldo
Arroz Caldo or aroskaldo is a type of Filipino lugaw made of chicken and rice and flavored with fresh ginger, garlic, onions, and fish sauce. Although its name is derived from the Spanish arroz caldoso which means “brothy rice”, the rice gruel is more of a local adaptation of the congee introduced in the Philippines by Chinese immigrants.
The thick, hearty porridge is usually served in individual bowls with various toppings and condiments such as hard boiled egg, chopped scallions, and toasted garlic, and calamansi. It’s especially popular for breakfast, but it’s also commonly enjoyed as a midday snack or light dinner meal.
Tips on How to Make Arroz Caldo
- While you can use boneless chicken breast or thigh meat, I highly recommend bone-in parts for maximum flavor. You might also want to try chicken feet version which is fun and tasty to eat! You can also check out this lugaw and tokwa for a vegan version.
- I use long-grain rice as it’s what I always have at home but feel free to swap malagkit (glutinous rice) if you prefer a heartier, thicker consistency. To cut down on cook time, you can use already-cooked (steamed) rice and adjust the amount of liquid to about 3 to 4 cups.
- To boost flavor and color, stir in a tablespoon or so of kasubha (safflower). If you have access to the more expensive saffron, the better! Add about a pinch of the threads as a little goes a long way.
- Ginger is a major flavor component in this soup and using fresh is a must! For best results, please do not substitute dried or ground ginger.
How to Store and Reheat Chicken Rice Congee
Allow the congee to cool completely, transfer to airtight containers, and keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Store condiments and toppings separately and add when the soup is ready to serve.
The arroz caldo will thicken more as it cools. To reheat, place in a large saucepan and add enough water to loosen to desired consistency. Cook, stirring regularly until heated through.
- 1 (3 to 4 pounds) whole chicken, cut into serving pieces
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 4 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 cup uncooked rice
- 6 cups water
- 2 bouillon cubes
- salt and pepper to taste
For the Toppings
- 3 hardboiled eggs, peeled and halved
- 1/4 cup fried garlic bits
- 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
- calamansi or lemon, cut into wedges
- fish sauce
For the Fried Garlic Bits
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1 head garlic, cut into wedges
- Trim chicken of unwanted fat, rinse and drain well.
- In a pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add onions, ginger and garlic. Cook, stirring regularly, until softened 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, for about 1 to 2 minutes or until rice starts to lightly brown.
- Add water and bring to a boil, skimming scum that floats on top.
- Add bouillon cubes and stir to dissolve.
- Lower heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the rice has softened and expanded and the congee has thickened to desired consistency.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Ladle into serving bowls. Top with boiled egg, green onions, and toasted garlic. Serve hot with calamansi and additional fish sauce on the side.
For the Fried Garlic Bits
- 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.