Oh Arroz Caldo...it's been so long since I had a bowl of this thick and delicious Savory Chicken and Rice Porridge that's similar to the Chinese congee. I think we named it Arroz Caldo as a result of our being colonized by Spain (hence the Spanish name) though if it's a meatless or plain savory rice porridge we just call it "lugaw" - a Filipino term.
So pretty much it is a thick porridge or soup of rice which has usually disintegrated after prolonged cooking in water. When prepared with meat then it is a meal on its own and in Asia (at least in the Philippines) it is often served when one is ill or sick. However, there many "carinderia" or local eateries who serve this on a daily basis too. So, you'll always find arroz caldo somewhere and this is specially loved during the cooler weather season from December to February.
Since it's still winter time, I thought I would try to make it and I was surprised that after all these years - I still love the good old classic Arroz Caldo. So whether you are feeling fine or a little unwell try this flavorful one-pot meal savory chicken and rice porridge anyway and am sure you'll be truly pleased!
3-4 Tablespoon, Oil
2.2 lbs chicken pieces (I used about 4 thighs and 5 drumsticks)*
1 Whole Garlic, cloves peeled and crushed
1/2 cup thin Ginger strips (or just peeled and chopped)
1 1/2 cups uncooked white rice
8 cups chicken stock or broth (water is perfectly fine, too - just adjust the seasoning)
2-3 Tablespoons Fish Sauce (adjust to taste) or plain salt (1 Tablespoon is good for 8 cups of water)
4-6 Scallions or Green Onions, chopped (for garnish)
Fried minced Garlic (optional)
Lemon or lime (to squeeze on top if you want to give it some tang) - optional
*For a lower fat version, I used skinless and boneless thighs but kept the skin on the drumsticks.
In a large deep pan (I used my 6 quartz Le Creuset) heat the oil. When the oil is already hot, saute the garlic and ginger just until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add in the chicken pieces and cook/fry until they turn golden brown on all sides. You may have to do this batches if the pan cannot accomodate them in one go. Set aside.
In the remaining fat (if it's quite dry, add a little oil) add the rice and stir until it's fully coated with the oil or grease. Return the chicken into the pan. Pour in the chicken stock/broth or water and the fish sauce (if using). Add the salt if you are using the salt instead.
Simmer until both rice and chicken are fully cooked, more or less about 45 minutes. The consistency should be that of a thick soup. Add more water if you desire a less thick soup. Adjust the seasoning with more salt or fish sauce.
Ladle into individual bowls and garnish with chopped scallions and fried minced garlic. Offer the lime or lemon to those who wish to add some tangy bite to their Arroz Caldo. We also usually serve this with some soy sauce or fish sauce on the side! Enjoy!
Here's another photo to show it's deliciousness!
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