Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Aroscaldo... Filipino Rice Porridge

I remember walking home from school during the cold Canadian winters. By 4 pm the sky seemed dim and heavy and I wanted nothing more than to peel off my snow-soaked socks and enjoy a bowl of my grandmother's aroscaldo. I'd have a spring in my numbed step as the scents of the garlic ginger rice porridge would escape from the house and greet my from the veranda.

Aroscaldo is similar to Chinese Congee but more flavourful... at least in my opinion. It's so easy to make, has lots of rich and contrasting flavours and immediately transports me to my childhood.  You have the smooth and somewhat starchy porridge that's cooked with garlic, ginger and fish sauce. Then you top it with all sorts of lovely bits like fresh ginger, crispy fried garlic, thinly sliced green onions and a good squeeze of lemon juice. So so delicious.

2 pieces chicken breast or thighs (with bones and skin)
2 tablespoon garlic pounded in a mortar and pestle
1.5 inch cube of ginger julienned plus extra for condiments
3 teaspoons canola or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 cup Jasmin white rice
1 green onion
1/2 lemon sliced into wedges

Cut chicken into large bite sized pieces and reserve.  Make sure you have bones as this will flavour your broth.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a pot and add ginger. Cook until the ginger browns (about 3 minutes). Add 1 tablespoon  garlic and cook it until it has browned.. be careful not to burn the garlic. Unlike classic European style cooking we want the garlic to be very well cooked and dark brown but not burnt.. it's a fine line.

Add the chicken and cook until it's opaque. Add the fish sauce and cover. Keep on a low simmer for 5 minutes. Add enough hot water to cover the chicken. Bring to a boil and reduce to a low simmer for 15 minutes. Add the rice and stir occasionally. This will thicken overtime. Cook for 30 minutes or until the rice has absorbed enough water that it has the porridge consistency. If it absorbs too much water and seems a touch thick, add more hot water a little at a time until it's just right!

In a saute pan fry 1 tablespoon garlic in 2 teaspoons oil until browned and reserve. Top the porridge with fried garlic, green onions, ginger and a good squirt of lemon juice. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. A bit of trivia - this dish is one of a few that exemplify the melding of cultures in the Philippines. It comes with a Spanish name - "arroz caldo" - which literally means rice broth (for Tagalog speakers - Capampangans call it lelut manuc) but is so obviously Oriental. Same goes for Chinese fried rice. We call it morisqueta tostada. :)