Ginger is one of the most widely used herbs in Asia, and for many, it is a personal favorite. This is partly because it is a fundamental ingredient in many comfort foods. One such ginger recipe favorite of Filipinos is Arroz Caldo, a porridge made of chicken and rice. This dish has plenty of flavor, and the unique bite that only ginger can provide.
Just about all Asian kitchens have a version of rice porridge. In the Philippines, however, this dish is prepared with chicken and plenty of ginger. It is often served on rainy days, but it is an even more common sight when someone in the household is sick. Some families also have a tradition of serving arroz caldo as a first meal to mothers after a childbirth.
You can only get good arroz caldo if you use good ingredients. In the old days, arroz caldo had to be cooked with a hen that had laid eggs once or twice. This ensured that the broth would be truly tasty and the meat would soften quickly. Today, of course, this poultry selection is neither feasible nor practical, so cooks settle for regular chicken and add chicken broth to the preparation for extra flavor.
To serve five people, you will need the following basic ingredients:
2 pounds chicken meat, cut into serving pieces
1 ½ cups sweet rice (also called glutinous rice. This is available in Asian stores)
2 tablespoons fish sauce (also available in Asian stores)
I/2 head garlic, minced
1 small onion
1 large knob of ginger, sliced fine or julienned (Make it a very large knob if you like the heat this root provides.)
1 liter chicken broth
5 cups water
The ingredients above will give you a plain, hearty porridge, the kind that is traditionally served to people who are ill or recovering from some ailment. To enhance your arroz caldo, prepare the following:
5 hard-boiled eggs or century eggs
Finely sliced green onions
• Using a stockpot, heat some cooking oil and sauté the onions, garlic and the ginger. Regulate the heat so that these pieces are well cooked but not too brown so that your soup will have a nice, light color.
• Add the chicken and sauté the pieces well until they are slightly brown.
• Add the sweet rice and stir this around for two minutes.
• Add the chicken broth and gently mix everything, making sure none of the rice sticks to the bottom of the pot.
• Stir the pot periodically, adding water as needed. Scrape the bottom of the pot to make sure the rice does not burn.
• When the rice is done, your arroz caldo is ready to serve.
You can serve arroz caldo as is, or you can sprinkle it with green onions, fried garlic, and fried onions. You can top each bowl of soup with slices of century egg, or you can slip a whole hard-boiled egg into each serving. Some households add cubes of fried tofu to this delightful gruel. There is an endless array of goodies that can find their way into your bowl of this steaming ginger recipe favorite, so just sit back and enjoy your meal.