Arroz Caldo, translation is rice broth, is the Filipino version of Chinese congee. Arroz caldo is not soupy and the consistency is more like porridge. Er, it IS rice porridge flavored with chicken, garlic, ginger, and Spanish saffron and simmered in broth. It's one of the dishes that best represents the mixture of Filipino heritage combining Spanish, Chinese, and Filipino flavors.
When I make this dish I add the coloring agent called kasubha which is dried safflower. It is sometimes called fake saffron because it resembles saffron although it doesn't taste at all like saffron. In fact, it doesn't taste of anything, but it is great in adding color to food without imparting a distinct or strong flavor.
Chicken Arroz Caldo
1½ pounds chicken pieces
2 tablespoons light olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
5 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tablespoon sliced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons fish extract
1 cup glutinous or medium grain rice
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, or more as needed
a big pinch of Spanish saffron
1 teaspoon kasubha, or more for a deeper yellow color
salt and ground white pepper to taste
chopped scallions for garnish
calamansi or lemon juice
- In a large pot, heat oil and saute chicken pieces until light brown. Add onion, garlic, and ginger and stir fry until onion is soft and translucent. Add fish extract and rice and stir fry for 2 minutes.
- Add the broth, saffron, and kasubha. Bring to a boil, cover, and let simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. After 15 minutes, check if there is enough liquid and add accordingly. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Serve with chopped scallions (I have not used scallions recently because they all come from Mexico and I'm avoiding uncooked or difficult to clean stuff from that country; I topped the porridge with fried shallots and garlic) and calamansi or lemon juice.