Making Chicken Arroz Caldo

To properly preface this post, I should tell you that I’m no kitchen goddess. Years of cooking ignorance means I can boil water and make rice, but no four-course meals. I’m at the bottomest of bottom with regards to operating a knife–as long as I haven’t bled and the thing’s cut into small pieces, well, that’s success, right?

Necessity generally spurs action. Today I needed something simple and hearty and making chicken arroz caldo just seemed like the right thing to do. In short, chicken arroz caldo is the Filipino version of the Asian rice porridge called congee. It’s a thick, rice porridge or soup flavored with different toppings, and is generally recommended to the sick as a comforting, easily digestible meal.

There’s many recipes online but I particularly liked Jun Belen’s version found on his blog here. Jun Belen is a professional food photographer from San Francisco and his bowl of arroz caldo looked delicious. Here’s his recipe, which I used today:

Arroz Caldo Recipe, makes 6 servings

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped, about 1/2 Tbsp
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 short-grain rice
4 cups chicken stock
2 Tbsp 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.

Jun Belen, “How to Make Chicken Arroz Caldo

My version doesn’t have fish sauce or saffron in it since I didn’t have those ingredients on hand, but the result was still pleasing and tasted just like the arroz caldo I had from my elementary school cafeteria. Also, I used chicken thigh instead of breast or wing. and I didn’t have the calamansi (lime), which generally makes the soup more zesty and citrusy.

The one thing I noted afterward was that I didn’t cook the rice long enough for it to disintegrate, rather, the porridge in my photograph looks more like creamy chicken risotto rather than the real soup-like congee. Either way, it was still delicious, and you bet I was darn proud of my fried garlic and chopped green onion garnish!

I’m sure this wouldn’t get a 10 for execution or presentation, but taste is in the tongue of the beholder (or something like that.)

Here’s the finished product (like I said, looks more like risotto than porridge at this point, but still tasty!)

It was edible, and actually got a smile and a thank-you from Henry, my hungry critic. YATTA!


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