Thursday, October 20, 2005

Arroz caldo straight from the heart

My favorite dish has always been Arroz caldo in all it's permutations. For most Pinoys, arroz caldo only refers to that type made with chicken, the most usual type. Other types are referred to as either goto or congee if the meat used is beef tripe or meat dumplings, and lugaw if it doesn't have any meat in it at all. Technically, all these are arroz caldo, just as Colgate is just another type of toothpaste; Colgate, by the by, is the "generic" term for toothpaste for a lot of Pinoys for decades, only slowly changing during the last decade of the last century. Well, as I said, arroz caldo is my favorite dish and my favorite version of it is arroz caldo de bulalo.

For the past few weeks, I've already made three batches of this my favorite dish, but not because it is my favorite dish. I've been making this because my niece's favorite solid food dish is my arroz caldo. Of course, my brother and siste-in-law have already been trying to feed her some solid or semi-solid food. On the whole, she wasn't a picky eater, but only with arroz caldo did she display any sort of fondness, actually holding her mouth open to be fed, occassionally grabbing the spoon to put it in her mouth herself and crying if she still wants more. I mean, really, how can I resist? I am also her godfather after all.

Of course, I have to tone down my recipe so that it wouldn't be as spicy as I am wont to make it. Here is my modified recipe, based on my Mom's way of cooking it, henceforth called Arroz caldo de manok ala Dayang:

  • olive or vegetable oil
  • minced garlic
  • minced onion
  • sliced ginger root
  • chicken thighs (can also use shredded chicken or chicken cubes)
  • glutinous malagkit rice
  • saffron or saffron flower (kasubha)
  • chicken bouillion cubes
  • salt

Saute minced garlic in oil until brown, then add onion and ginger root.

Add chicken thighs and bouillion cubes, mix around until the the bouillion cubes are disolved and the chicken is thoroughly coated in the oily mixture.

Add enough water to cover everthing, cover the pan, and wait until it starts to boil.

When it is already boiling, add the glutinous rice; remember not to put in too much since the rice will expand—a little goes a long way. Stir until the rice is thoroughly mixed in.

Add more water at this point until everything is covered to an approximate depth of one thumblength (don't stick your thumb in!).

Stir things around once in a while until it starts to boil again, then mix in the saffron or saffron flower. You don't have to put in too much, since kasubha is merely a vegetable-based food coloring that only adds a bit more nutritional value; if you don't want "artificial" coloring to food (although technically it isn't "artificial") you can skip this step.

Keep stirring constantly, making sure that you scrape the bottom once in a while, since the rice tends to stick to the bottom and will develop a "burnt" flavor. Make sure that you add a bit more water once in a while as the rice absorbs the water and expands. (I haven't tried adding all of the needed water from the get go, but I find this way of adding water incrimentally makes the entire thing easier to stir, for the chicken to cook more swiftly, and for me to better control the consistency of the rice.)

Keep at it until the whole mixture acquires the right consistency, that is, not too thick that it can't slide of a ladle, but not too thin that it is confused with soup. Allow to cool sufficiently in another container (preferably a metal tin, I use a Selecta Ice Cream can) before feeding to the baby.
Remember that this is just the modified recipe. I would usually put in some ground pepper at the same time as the meat (whatever meat I put in, not just chicken) and I usually mince my ginger root. I also typcially fry some more mince garlic and chop up some leeks for toppings. I also tend to make it saltier than I would for little DeeCee.

9Jesus then said to them, "You have a fine way of setting aside God's commands! You do this so you can follow your own teachings. 10Moses said, 'Honor your father and mother.'(Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16) He also said, 'If anyone calls down a curse on his father or mother, he will be put to death.'(Exodus 21:17; Leviticus 20:9)11But you allow people to say to their parents, 'Any help you might have received from us is Corban.' (Corban means 'a gift set apart for God.' )12So you no longer let them do anything for their parents. 13You make the word of God useless by putting your own teachings in its place. And you do many things like that."

Mark 7:9-13 (NIrV)

17Suppose someone sees a brother or sister in need and is able to help them. If he doesn't take pity on them, how can the love of God be in him? 18Dear children, don't just talk about love. Put your love into action. Then it will truly be love.

I John 3:17-18 (NIrV)

20Anyone who says he loves God but in fact hates his brother or sister is a liar. He doesn't love his brother or sister, whom he has seen. So he can't love God, whom he has not seen.

I John 4:20 (NIrV)