Arroz caldo, and Merry Christmas!

I'm not usually one to make lists until my tasks start to get too overwhelming. There are grocery lists, of course, and there was the beast of a wedding checklist, but everyday chores, errands or goals never really make it to paper.

Lately, though, there have been weekend lists. It started when I kept bookmarking and printing out recipes to try, only to leave them untouched on the kitchen counter all weekend while I did other things (i.e., nothing). I put the recipes on the list. Then I had to make sure I got my oil changed and did the laundry. Then it was two weeks before Christmas, and there were gifts to make and to order. Now, Christmas weekend is here, and the remaining tasks on my list include: wrap presents, make more Heath bar cookies, buy tickets to Universal Studios (I'll be in Florida next week!), pack for said Florida trip, and make chocolate bourbon milkshakes. That last one has been making its way to the bottom of the list for weeks now. Don't worry, it'll happen. Just not today.

Here's something I did check off my list: arroz caldo.

chicken arroz caldo

I wanted to make sure I made this and shared it with you before Christmas, because it's a Filipino Christmas food. At least, it's what my parents said they'd eat on Christmas Eve in the Philippines. And when I told my mom I made it, she said, "Oh that's comfort food." Yes, it so is.

Arroz caldo doesn't look like much. In fact, I've written about it here before and compared it to gruel -- it's a thick, sludgy rice and chicken dish (literally  means "rice broth," and is the Filipino version of congee, or porridge) with no real color besides a sprinkle of green onions and fried garlic flakes. The rice is simmered in chicken broth with ginger, garlic and patis (fish sauce), until the rice thickens yet becomes silky, and soaked with flavor.

It's the type of warming food that you eat out of a big bowl or mug when you're waist-deep in holiday to-dos, and you just need to pause and slow down and be happy that it's the holidays and you made one of your favorite dishes and it tastes (almost!) as good as Mom and Dad's.

Merry Christmas, guys!

chicken arroz caldo

Chicken Arroz Caldo (adapted from Jun-blog and my mom's method)
My mom makes arroz caldo with bone-in chicken parts and water. I was too lazy to deal with chicken bones, so I used boneless chicken thighs and broth, instead -- per Jun's recipe. This stuff thickens a lot over time, so just add a bit of water before reheating. 

1 tablespoon canola oil
3 - 5 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped, about 1/2 tablespoon
1 small onion, chopped, about 1/3 cup
1 - 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, sliced
1 cup short-grain rice
4 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons fish sauce
green onions, thinly sliced for garnish
fried garlic flakes, recipe below

Heat canola oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the ginger, onion, and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the fish sauce and let simmer for a few minutes, then add rice and simmer a few minutes more, stirring often. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer, stirring frequently until the chicken and rice are cooked through, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the fried garlic flakes: Smash and mince 3 large garlic cloves. Heat a few tablespoons of canola oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and fry until a deep golden brown. Transfer the flakes to a paper towel and set aside.

Serve arroz caldo with fried garlic flakes and green onions sprinkled on top. Makes 6 servings.


  1. I love when you talk Filipino food. Speaking of lists, I'm adding this recipe to mine. (An annoying question: Could I use something else in place of the fish sauce?) Also, chocolate bourbon milkshakes? Get on that, girl! I've recently become acquainted with the chocolate-bourbon combination. Powerful stuff. Merry Christmas, Jacqui!

  2. I like how hearty this dish is. Perfect for the cold winter days we are having here in Seattle.

  3. Jess - You should be fine using soy sauce instead of fish sauce. I love that you're adding Filipino recipes to your list!

    Mother Rimmy - Oh yes, so perfect for cold days. Thanks for stopping by! :)

  4. Oh, my favorite comfort food!I could have used a bowl on a day like today :)

  5. Liren - Mine too. I could use a bowl of arroz caldo any day. :)

  6. wow, a bowl of this on a rainy day and i'm back in my mom's kitchen eating under a last supper portrait and a pair of huge utensils.

    1. ahaha I soooo know what you're talking about. Gotta love the giant wooden spoon and fork. ;)

    2. thanks for posting these recipes. they are spot on easy to follow. my mom's directions are usually a bit vague and apparently she measures ingredient quantities by feel... or some other old world magic that I sadly do not posses :-)

    3. My mom doesn't follow recipes, either -- I have to ask her a lot of questions while she's cooking, then combine her methods with recipes I find online, and just go by feel until it tastes like hers. Hope you try some of these and let me know how they turn out! Also -- I checked out your site and ohmygosh you have a beautiful voice. Listened to a couple of songs and loved them. Thanks for dropping by!


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