When my Filipino mother married my Bangladeshi father, she dedicated her time learning to cook traditional Bengali dishes (see our favorite egg curry recipe here). Familiar herbs like coriander took on a new name (dhaniya) and spices that were foreign to her, like cardamom, became a staple in her pantry.
As the years went by, our dinners became predominately a combination of American and Bengali meals, so it was always a treat when she would cook noodle dishes like pancit (see recipe here) or sotanghon, or the little meat-filled steamed bun, siapao.
As an adult, I’ve tried to learn and recreate some of the classic Filipino dishes that were such a big part of my mother’s childhood. Her favorite meal growing up was this Arroz Caldo, a congee (rice porridge) with chicken, rice, broth, and fresh garlic. Onion, garlic, and ginger are sautéed in a large pot, then chicken is added and browned (any type of chicken will do, but I prefer bone-in skinless chicken thighs). Add long-grained white rice, fish sauce, and chicken broth, and let all the ingredients simmer on the stove until the rice is tender and cooked. Ladle into bowls, top with scallions, fried garlic, eggs, and squeezes of fresh lemon juice, and serve hot.
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 inches fresh ginger, grated
- 3 lbs. bone-in skinless chicken thighs, fat trimmed
- 1 cup uncooked long-grained white rice (jasmine or basmati, preferable)
- 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp grapeseed or olive oil
- coarse kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
- fried garlic bits
- hardboiled eggs
- scallions, finely chopped
- calamansi or lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- Rinse and pat dry chicken thighs.
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. When hot, add onion and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to saute for an additional 1-2 minutes, until aromatic.
- Add the chicken thighs to the pan and brown all over (at this point, we just want it to be browned - it does not have to be fully cooked). Add the fish sauce and continue to cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Toss in the rice and stir continuously until rice starts to brown, 2-3 minutes. Add in the low sodium-chicken broth, scraping the bottom of the pan.
- Bring to a boil, lower heat, and cover until rice is cooked and tender, stirring occasionally to prevent rice from sticking to the bottom (this could take anywhere from 10-15 minutes - test the rice for desired consitency). If desired, remove chicken thighs from the soup, separate the meat from the bones, and add back into the soup (or you can leave them whole). Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Ladle into bowls, sprinkle on toppings, and serve warm.