Filipino Arroz Caldo Recipe For When You Are Under the Weather
A throwback to the sweet ol’ days of momma spoiling us with a bowl of this.
Arroz caldo is all about that cozy, fuzzy feeling Filipinos get when they slurp a warm bowl of this sweet-savory comfort food. There is nothing special about it really. It is a simple rice porridge made extra special by skin-flushing nostalgia. There is always a unique yet familiar childhood story attached to this comfort food dish. It was the pick-me-up food that sustained our energy when we felt sick. It was also the recommended soupy and soft meal to have after a weekend visit to the dentist (sigh). Any Filipino adult now would claim their mom makes the best arroz caldo, but it’s always the memories we have of arroz caldo that influence how we appreciate this humble dish.
Now that we are grown-ups and facing real-world problems (ugh, tell me about it), it’s still the comfort food that cures the blues and eases the weary soul. It is simple and easy to make. All you need are sticky rice, toasted garlic, some ginger, and halves of citrus to give you instant relief. Not to be confused with Chinese congee, arroz caldo is Spanish in name (meaning “hot rice”) but its traditional Filipino spirit is in its use of ginger and chicken to add flavor and zing. It’s not as fancy as the congee that mixes in quail egg, century egg, seafood, or dumplings, although some restaurants in Manila do offer variants with crispy duck or deep-fried Spanish-style canned tuna. Before COVID-19 pandemic happened, arroz caldo became a status symbol among Filipino elites who fly the business class of the flag carrier and post pictures of arroz caldo on board. Or maybe it really isn’t as critics make it out to be. Maybe the rich are just like the average Filipino who wants to bring with them a taste of home.
Whichever recipe you want to try, arroz caldo will always be the childhood comfort food we are familiar with because of its usual silky white color. You can also try make it marigold when infused with the optional sesame oil like this one from Epicurious. Like the traditional arroz caldo that Filipino moms cook, this arroz caldo recipe is a happy medley of rice, shreds of chicken meat, hardboiled egg, toasted garlic on top for the extra crunch, and a squeeze of calamansi for zesty citrus finish that mingles with creamy texture of the dish.
Get these ingredients and more from My Tindahan here.
Photo by Chelsea Kyle, food styling by Olivia Mack Anderson. Photo from Epicurious website.