Arroz Caldo, the Filipino version of Congee, is usually chicken based unlike its Chinese counterpart which has a very subtle almost neutral flavour. It would have to be the ultimate Asian comfort food to a point that in the Philippines it has been unfairly associated with the infirmed.
I usually make my Arroz Caldo as basic as possible. This is so Filipino in that we allow the diner to finish the dish by dressing up his/her arroz caldo to suit his/her taste. There are plenty of condiments to the Pinoy congee:
Tokwa’t baboy (deep fried tofu and pork)
Chicharon (deep fried pork rind)
Egg (hard boiled or soft boiled or even fresh)
Cooked garlic in oil
White pepper/black pepper
Cooked tripe and other innards
And a lot more…
The possibilities are limitless (almost).
Anyhoo, close to midnight my wife gently nudged me into preparing Arroz Caldo for Yaya.
consistency almost soupp like, now this is is ready
Arroz Caldo ala Beancounter
2 cups of jasmine rice
1 teaspoon salt
Slivers of ginger
2-3 cloves of garlic chopped
1 medium sized onion chopped
1 dozen chicken wingettes
Chicken stock (I purposely did not put the amount as I do not know exactly how much I’ve used. You need plenty to get a similar consistency to mine)
1. First wash the rice. Mix in the salt and about 1 tablespoon of oil after washing. Put in a strainer to get rid of excess water. From experience I think this helps in breaking down the rice quicker to reach my preferred consistency.
2. In a large stockpot with a thick base (this prevents the rice from sticking and burning quickly) heat up a bit of oil.
3. Sauté the ginger first then the garlic and then the onions. Pinoy dishes usually require you to wait for the garlic to turn golden brown as opposed to the European way.
4. Add the chicken and cook for about 3 minutes.
5. Add the rice and stir continuously for about 2 minutes. (If the base of your pot is not thick enough the rice will be sticking to the bottom like crazy. So invest in good pots and pans.)
6. Add the stock. You’ll notice that as the rice cooks it will absorb the stock. You’ll need to keep adding more stock to achieve the consistency that you like. The rice will soon have enough and will start breaking down. I like my congee almost soup like not overcooked rice. For me, there’s nothing worse than seeing the grains still whole.
7. It is then up to you to fully season your arroz caldo or leave it as bland as possible to and let the diner decide for himself using the condiments.
8. Serve steaming hot with your preferred condiments!