23 January 2013

Arroz Caldo (Philippine Chicken Congee)


When my calamansi plants yield their fruit, my kitchen starts to smell like the Philippines.  Most of the time, all of them fruit at the same time and that's when kitchen trouble starts.  With kilos of calamansi confronting me and requiring immediate attention and getting little help from my husband and kids who are picky about their Asian food, I prepare my son's favorite drink, calamansi juice with mint and cook all kinds of food that use calamansi.  One of the dishes I prepare is arroz caldo and drown it with calamansi and colatura di alici (Italian fish sauce from the Amalfi Coast equivalent to the Asian fish sauce).   I love it when both sourness and saltiness fight for dominance in the food.  I cook for 4 and I eat for 4.  And I don't eat arroz caldo again until the following year or, until I get another craving when the calamansi plants give me again another round of fruit.


For this year, I prepared my annual arroz caldo, went through my usual cooking for 4 and eating for 4 then I concluded my appetite for it until the following year again.  This time, I want to share with you the Philippines' version of chicken congee.  Almost all Asian countries have their own and this is the one that I grew up with and can't go without.  In the Philippines, this comes to everyone's mind unanimously when the temperature drops by a couple of degrees and the rainy season starts to keep everyone indoors.  And it's everyone's comfort food, including myself.


Inspite of my continued hope that my kids would open up more to the Philippine cuisine, this dish is something that I still need to work on to meet a compromise with them.  Maybe take away the fish sauce or ginger?  Or maybe I just need to give them time to grow up and widen their appreciation for more diverse tastes.  

And speaking of the Philippines, I have the honor to be included among the country's 100 inspirational nationals living in Europe compiled in the publication called Juan in EU.  I have yet to see the magazine but knowing that I am considered inspirational enough through my blogging gives me a sense of pride and honor to be handed that title.  Salamat PILIPINAS!   (I just got the copy.  Click on this link to take a peek!)

If you haven't tried this dish yet and you like Asian flavors, this is a must to add to your list during the colder months.  Buon appetito!

More Philippine Recipes:

Banana Spring Rolls (Turon)  
Taho: Soft Tofu, Vanilla Syrup & Tapioca in a Glass
Chicken Afritada  

 

Arroz Caldo (Philippine Chicken Congee)

Ingredients:
Serves 4
  • 1 cup short grain uncooked rice (I use Carnaroli or Arborio.)
  • 4 chicken pieces with bones and with or without skin (however you prefer), cut to smaller pieces, about 2 inches
  • 1 (1-inch) piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • salt & pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil (or any oil)
  • a pinch of saffron powder 
  • 1 liter (4 cups) of hot chicken stock + 500 ml. (2 cups) for reserve in case you need more
  • saffron pistils for decorating (originally, dried safflower is used but saffron can be substituted)
  • 2 eggs
  • calamansi or lemon
  • additional fish sauce for seasoning
Directions:
  1. Sautè the onion, garlic & ginger in a thick pot with extra virgin olive oil.  Toss for a couple of minutes.  
  2. Add the chicken.  Toss for about 10 minutes or until the color of the chicken has changed. 
  3. Add the rice.  Toast for about 2 minutes.
  4. Add 1 liter chicken stock, saffron powder and 2 tablespoons fish sauce.  Simmer for 30 minutes or until rice and chicken are cooked through.  Stir every once in a while so that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot.  The amount of broth that you put depends on the consistency of the rice that you want.  
  5. Meanwhile, cook the eggs in another saucepot until hard boiled.  Take away from the shells.  Halve them lengthwise.  Set aside
  6. To serve, put the rice in a bowl with chicken, sprinkle with spring onions & saffron pistils.  Put half an egg on top.  Serve with calamansi (or lemon) & additional fish sauce (if desired).  
NOTE: Leftover arroz caldo can be kept in a sealed container in the fridge.  When reheating, simply put in a saucepan and add some water or chicken broth. 



18 comments:

  1. OMG! I just made arroz caldo about 2 to 3 weeks ago!!! Yum, I missed the taste of the Philippines...And wow, you have a calamansi tree there in Italy? How did you manage to plant it? Wow, I'm so jealous! And your arroz caldo looks sooooo good right now. But I'm on the Paleo Diet for now (no grains, no gluten, no refined sugar) until I lose some weight! LOL! No worries, I'm not completely abandoning my faves: rice, pasta, bread. I shall taste them again in the near future...

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    1. I currently have 2 potted calamansi trees and other 2 that are half the size but growing rapidly. All 4 of them love to fruit so I am really lucky! Good luck with your Paleo Diet.

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  2. My calamansi tree has never yielded enough fruit for me to do much with it. It's really struggled--I think I planted it in the wrong spot. My lemon tree next door thrives so I don't know what I've done.

    Arroz caldo is one of my faves and my non-Asian husband loves it, too. I bet your children will develop a taste for this and the dishes we grew up eating as they get older. Yours looks perfect! Your pictures are so sharp and love the purple. :)

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    1. The only thing that comes to my mind is that the calamansi tree is in the wrong spot. Mine get the morning until afternoon sun and they are protected from the wind which they don't like. I do hope the kids will like this too. I think I will just have to wait.

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  3. Love the new colors on the blog. It's rather regal. :) Is calamansi like the Seville Orange/sour orange? Insofar as the kids are concerned, they will develop their own palates. Just encourage them to try different things. All of our children are grown now and their tastes are vastly different from when they were young.

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    1. I'm glad you like the new colors. It's more refreshing to the eyes now. Calamansi is the other name of calamondin. It's not seville orange.

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  4. I had never tried arroz caldo before but looking at your pictures and ingredients list, it looks very comforting and wonderful dish! Does Filipino food use a lot of Fish Sauce? I was very surprised to see it in the list. I love fish sauce and the flavor is quite addicting. And I must say that the egg made this dish 110% perfect. :)

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    1. Philippine cooking uses a lot of fish sauce, as well as soy sauce.

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  5. I've never tried arroz caldo but it sounds and looks so comforting! I like your new blog look! :)

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    1. Thank you Laura! I'm glad you like the new look!

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  6. Creative!! :D

    Elisa,
    www.deliziandovi.it

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  7. Apart from the fish sauce and ginger, it seems to be very much like a risotto. The Philippine flavorings have peaked my interest. I'm going to make this soon. I just made a venison risotto last night, but I'm sure my kids would like to try this next week some time. It's getting cold here, and a comfort food is just what the chef ordered! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Yes, you're right. It is similar to risotto. Although the taste is very Asian. I hope you and your kids will like it!

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  8. my niece makes calamansi marmalade. Quite good! You can also freeze squeezed calamansi juice.
    Love you photos. Nice layout.

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    1. Calamansi marmalade sounds good! I will have to try that one. Thanks for the idea. I do freeze the juice sometimes in the ice tray for single doses when I really have too much but I like using them when they are fresh. Thanks for all the tips!

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  9. Excellent post on Arroz caldo. Very glad I stumbled on your blog on my twitter feed. I substitute oatmeal sometimes when I cook it since I'm supposed to cut down on my calories. :) You might want to try Goto if you like Tripe. Also some roasted garlic as additional toppings really make a difference.

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  10. This dish looks so delicious and comforting, especially in this cold weather. I've been wanting to cook Filipino food for some time now. I always thought I would start with chicken adobo, but this may have to be my first dish! Pinned! :)

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