Last week, every family member’s immune system under our roof, was attacked by some terrible and nasty germs. Stomach virus, bronchitis and respiratory infection were the evil characters that crept into our systems and viciously brought us down. Fortunately, one member of our household was able to fight off all the naughty culprits and take extra special care of us. That was Lola (that’s Grandma in Filipino.)
One of the foods I crave when I’m sick is my mother’s Arroz Caldo. Yes, these are Spanish words that you are reading, but it’s also the name of a dish in the Philippines. A literal translation would be “rice broth.” For me, it’s the ultimate comfort food for all kinds of ailments and I begged my mom to cook it for us. It may look like an ordinary bowl of porridge, but it’s not. The heavy amounts of slivered ginger, finely minced garlic and homemade chicken broth will quickly nurse you back to your regular self. Ginger can soothe that sore throat, garlic helps boost your immune system and the chicken broth, well, we all know what a good bowl of chicken soup can do for the soul, right? (My dear vegetarian friends, don’t feel left out! There is also a veggie version of this, and a stock of fresh vegetable broth has all those healing properties and more!)
Lola D purchased a whole chicken from the Andel farmers market that takes place every Friday in the Prague 5 neighborhood. She also picked up some local garlic, but the sweet glutinous rice and ginger used in the recipe, were bought at specialty shops around town. My mom is a big believer in the magic of garlic, so she never holds back (remember that she didn’t fall ill, hmmm?) However, if you have no need to fend off vampires, feel free to decrease the amount.
For my one year old daughters, Lola made a milder version (less gingery and peppery) to keep them nourished during their phase of discomfort. As the season continues to change with viruses and infections lurking through the air; searching to invade and disrupt our immune systems, I hope that you will be well protected. However, if you are in need of some extra armor or a remedy, a bowl of Arroz Caldo should do the trick!
Arroz Caldo (feeds 6-8)
1 small chicken, cut into pieces
1/4 cup of thinly sliced ginger
1 head of garlic and then another 10 cloves, all minced
1 onion, chopped
3-4 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of fish sauce (patis in Tagalog) OPTIONAL
1 cup of sweet glutinous rice
1 cup of jasmine rice
8-10 cups of water
1-2 strands of saffron
salt and pepper to taste
Cut the head of garlic in minced pieces.
Heat oil in a small frying pan.
Fry until golden brown.
Drain and set aside.
In a large pot, heat oil and add the 10 cloves of minced garlic and ginger.
Cook until slightly golden.
Add onion. When it is translucent, add the chicken.
Turn heat to low and continue to saute for about 15-20 minutes.
The chicken should “sweat” and begin to add some juices to the mixture.
Afterwards, add both types of rice, patis if you are using and then 8-10 cups of water.
If you want a thick porridge, stick with the lower number. If you want a more soupy porridge, use 10 cups of water.
Let it boil and then lower the heat.
Cook until rice is thoroughly done, about 40 minutes.
Season to taste.
Serve with sprinkles of roasted garlic, extra fish sauce, or lemon or soy sauce or vinegar or a combination of any of these condiments.
(Note for Vegetarians: Use vegetable broth instead of chicken and cups of water. Take a block of tofu and chop into pieces. Fry in 2-3 tablespoons of oil. When porridge is ready to serve, top with fried tofu, ginger and any of the above mentioned condiments.)