When I was little, my mom used to tell me whenever I had a bad cold or a bad day in school that there’s absolutely nothing a bowl of arroz caldo could not fix. I believed her without the faintest tinge of doubt. I believed her not only because I adored her but also because it was true — a humble bowl of chicken and rice gives warmth and comfort. It nurses the weary back to health.
Arroz caldo is Filipino rice porridge or congee. Chicken and rice are slowly simmered in a delicious broth flavored with garlic, onions, ginger and fish sauce. It is ladled in bowls and served with hard-boiled eggs, spring onions, fried garlic, and calamansi.
A hot, hearty bowl of arroz caldo with a squeeze of calamansi and a dash of fish sauce is perfect on a chilly day. Pure comfort.
Arroz Caldo Recipe, makes 6 servings
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped, about 1/2 tablespoon
1 small onion, chopped, about 1/3 cup
pinch of saffron
6 chicken wings, or 1 large boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup jasmine rice
4 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons fish sauce
3 hard-boiled eggs, sliced for garnish
2 spring onions, thinly sliced for garnish
3 calamansi or limes
Sauté the garlic in oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer the garlic to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and set aside. Add the ginger, onion, and saffron and cook until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken and brown for about 5 minutes. Add the rice, chicken stock, and fish sauce, cover the pan, and simmer over medium to low heat. Stir frequently and simmer until the chicken and rice are cooked through, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Ladle the arroz caldo into bowls and serve with bowls of hard-boiled egg, spring onion, fried garlic, calamansi and fish sauce on the side.
1. This recipe makes a fairly thick rice porridge, which I love. For a thinner arroz caldo add more cups of chicken stock. My mom and I both use jasmine rice but she sometimes uses sticky rice to make a thicker porridge.
2. When reheating, add some chicken stock or water to the porridge and warm over medium heat.
3. For the more adventurous, tripe can be used instead of chicken.