Chicken and Saffron Arroz Caldo with Spring Onions, Fried Garlic Bits, Boiled Egg, Chicken Skin Chicharrones and Calamansi
If I am to be asked about what dish I would happily eat repeatedly for a month or two, in a heartbeat, I will definitely say, Chicken Arroz Caldo. It is the one and only soup dish, but really more accurately, a savoury and chickeny rice porridge, that comforts me, even comforts my spirit, and by this I mean, that this dish is warming, hearty, fills anyone up real well and quite blissfully, eases the suffering of anyone who is sick, and really, to me it is my kind of Chicken Soup For The Soul… my soul.
Arroz Caldo (Spanish for rice soup) is a Hispanicized or Spanish version of the Chinese’ Congee. It is Hispanicized because of the addition (traditionally) of safflower or kasubha in Tagalog (a cheaper and more abundant counterpart of the much proper and expensive saffron… but obviously I decided to be a bit posh and used Saffron in this) use to colour the porridge, and black pepper along with the aromatic trifecta of garlic, onion and ginger sauteed along with morsels of chicken or beef to which a Chinese congee is deprived of.
And although this rice soup/porridge dish is Chinese in inspiration and Spanish in adaptation, this is spot on natively Filipino in taste… I call this Filipino soul food.
This dish is one of the first things I made myself learn how to cook when I was a teenager only because I wanted so bad to cook it whenever I want it. It is one of my favourite humble foods to eat most of the time… any time.
I never often asked my mother or grandmother (when she was still alive) to teach me how to cook certain dishes, I just avidly watched them prepare the ingredients, and the steps or stages they went through cooking every dish from start to finish. And in making this particular dish, I learned from both my grandmother and mother, that the best rice to use in Arroz Caldo is glutinous rice because the starchiness of this variety of rice helps thicken the soup much more gloriously than the regular variety. Also, it is crucial for this dish that the rice is totally puffed or cracked because texture wise, it is much more better in the palate than munching on whole al dente rice grains.
I will not give the recipe for this as I always make it in a large stock pot. But here is the procedure; In a stock pot, put this ration of 1:3 glutinous rice to hot chicken stock with either safflower or in this case, saffron threads infused in the stock. Place pot over high heat and wait for the rice and stock to get to a boil, then turn down heat to medium-low and gently simmer rice. Meanwhile, in a sautepan, saute finely chopped ginger in canola oil for 3 mins over medium-high heat, then add finely chopped onions, sweat onions for 3 mins, then add finely minced garlic and saute until garlic is soft and fragrant. Add either cut up chicken pieces or chunks of chicken breast fillets, and saute with the aromatics until cooked. Transfer sauteed chicken into stockpot with simmering rice. Mix together and season with salt (or fish sauce, optional) and fresh cracked black pepper. Continue simmering the soup/porridge until liquid has slightly thickened and rice is puffed or cracked.
Serve piping hot in bowls and top with thinly sliced spring onions, fried garlic bits, sliced hard boiled eggs and either chicken skin chicharrones or crushed pork cracklings (optional) and serve with calamansi halves or lemon wedges on the side.
Kimchi Fried Rice, Kimchi Kimbap and Hawker Style Shrimp Balls
As much as I love Mexican, Italian, American, and of course, Filipino dishes, I also fully embrace the dishes of other Asian countries such as Korea and fusion flavours of Singaporean food. And what I love most about Asian food is that it can be the cheapest to make, but really, the tastiest and with the most bold flavours.
I particularly love hawker food, mostly snacks in bite-size morsels jam-packed with savoury goodness either eaten on its own or dipped in a sauce, served on a stick -skewered in a row or picked up with a pair of chopsticks.
And although what I share with you all are recipes clearly not at all traditional and really kind of veered away from authenticity. I assure you all that these recipes are as equally enjoyable to munch on as those proper dishes that I borrowed from.
KIMCHI FRIED RICE
2 tablespoons canola oil
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup kimchi, chopped
4 cups cooked white rice
7 grams chicken stock powder (can substitute 1 1/2 teaspoon of chicken stock concentrate)
2 teaspoons sushi and sashimi soy sauce (or light soy sauce)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
In a large pan or wok on medium-high heat, saute chopped garlic in canola oil for 10 seconds. Add kimchi and saute for another 10 seconds.
Add the cooked rice making sure to break the lumps. Season the rice with chicken stock powder, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and cracked black pepper.
Toss and cook fried rice for 10 minutes, then turn off heat and immediately pour the beaten eggs over rice, stir and toss. Serve hot with shredded nori and thinly sliced omelette.
* Kimchi Kimbap *
Kimchi Fried Rice
Sliced Fried Spam (luncheon meat or ham is also good)
- Place nori sheet on cling or sushi mat, spread kimchi fried rice, 2 (3/4 inch in diameter sticks) of fried spam and sliced omelette.
- Roll sushi tightly and cut into 1 inch slices.
Hawker Style Shrimp Balls
1 pound raw shrimps, shelled, deveined and heads and tails removed
juice of 1/2 lime (or lemon)
2 Tablespoons spring onions, roughly sliced
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon red chilli flakes (optional)
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
canola oil (enough to reach half the height of your fry pan) for frying
wedges of lime or lemon to serve
- Blitz all ingredients together in a food processor.
- Chill shrimp ball mixture inside the fridge for 30 mins.
- Heat canola oil in fry pan over medium-high heat.
- Using 2 spoons, scoop 1 tablespoon each of shrimp mixture and form into irregular shaped balls.
- Fry in oil until golden.
- Serve with lime or lemon wedges on the side.
Parmesan Risotto (with pesto)
Sometimes all you really want is a bowl of cheesy goodness and a big spoon specially when you are all by yourself, rain pouring outside, want the coziness of your sofa and still in your pajamas (in mid afternoon).
They say that a good risotto dish should be oozy or runny and creamy. I say, I couldn’t agree more.
This is my humble and cheesy offering to all vegetarians.
3/4 cup Arborio rice
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 of a large white onion, chopped
3 1/2 cups hot vegetable stock (or chicken stock if not vegetarian)
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano/ regular parmesan
fresh cracked black pepper
salt (optional and according to taste)
a pat of butter (additional to finish the dish)
prepared homemade or store bought pesto
shavings of pamigiano-reggiano/ regular parmesan
- In a large sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter and saute onions until translucent and soft.
- Add the Arborio rice and saute for about 2 minutes.
- Add the the dry white wine. Then slowly add the vegetable stock (or chicken broth) half a cup at a time while slowly stirring the rice. When the rice absorbs a decent amount of liquid add another half cup of stock, repeat this process until rice is cooked (al dente) and is a bit soupy.
- Add the grated parmigiano-reggiano and gently stir until creamy.
- Season with freshly cracked black pepper (and salt, optional and according to taste) And finish the risotto dish with a pat of butter and remove from heat.
- Serve dribbled with a bit of pesto and shaving of parmigiano-reggiano.
Makes 3-4 servings
Quick Saffron and Seafood Rice with Chorizo
In a way, this is very similar to Paella, but I do not want to call this even a Quick Paella because I strayed away from the traditional and complete ingredients of the proud Spanish dish and well, I don’t want my dear friend Laura who is very Spanish and the one who sent me the packets of saffron powder I used in this dish to disown me… which I know won’t happen, because she loves me no matter what. But then she is Spanish and I don’t want to commit any sacrilege towards their national dish.
I made this just a couple of hours ago for Saturday night family dinner. And I cooked this as quickly as I can because after a day of cleaning house I just want a very speedy yet quite special dish to serve to my family.
I used basmati rice and omitted tomatoes or any tomato by-product, it’s the reason why I cannot, for the life of me call this Paella… anyways, this tastes delish and whole family was happy.
3 cups basmati rice
6 cups hot chicken stock
pinch of saffron threads or pinch of saffron powder
(in my case, I used one small sachet of saffron powder equivalent to a pinch as well)
1/2 pound large shrimps, shelled and deveined
1/2 pound squid, cut into 1/2 inch rings
1/2 cup pitted green olives
1 foot long link of chorizo, medium dice
1 large white onion, small dice
6 cloves garlic, minced
juice of half a lemon (to marinate shrimps and squid rings)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (for frying chorizo as well as sauteing the onions and basmati rice)
2 tablespoons butter (for sauteing the garlic, shrimps and squid separately)
salt and pepper to taste
lemon wedges (to serve on the side)
1/2 cup parsley, coarsely chopped (to sprinkle on top)
- Marinate shrimps and squid in lemon juice, salt and fresh cracked black pepper for 5 minutes.
- Put the saffron threads or saffron powder in hot chicken stock, stir and set aside.
- Place a large skillet (preferably a skillet with a bit of height) over medium heat and add olive oil. Fry diced chorizo until a bit of the fat renders in the pan and mixes in with the olive oil tinting it with a gorgeous red-orange colour. Remove fried chorizo bits from the oil and set aside.
- Add onions into the tinted oil and saute until soft. Add basmati rice and saute for 5 minutes just barely toasting it. And then pour the saffron infused hot chicken stock.
- Wait about 2 minutes for the mixture to boil before reducing heat to low to simmer for 15-20 minutes or until rice is done (either preferred al dente or just perfectly tender but not mushy and overcooked).
- While the rice gently cooks, place a skillet over high heat, add butter and garlic. Saute garlic until fragrant and soft (but not browned) and add the marinated shrimps and squid along with the green olives. Saute for 3 minutes or until shrimp curls up and turns orange (do not over cook shrimps and squid or both will be tough and chewy… which will just ruin the dish). Set the sauteed seafood aside (still in the skillet).
- When rice is almost done, add the fried chorizo nuggets and sauteed shrimps and squid rings along with the bit of pan juices rendered. Toss the mixture with two forks.
- Top with chopped parsley.
- Serve with lemon wedges on the side.
Makes 8 servings
CHAMPORADO (Chocolate Rice Porridge)
I am posting this to share to everyone (not only to my Filipino followers who of course love Champorado) one of the mainstays of Filipino breakfast table. We usually have Champorado specially during weekend mornings where it can be enjoyed by the whole family.
Although I photographed this bowl of Champorado in sort of a "space age" kind of styling :D (I just wanted to have fun with the editing!) it is after all the 21st century! This chocolatey breakfast porridge is traditionally (though it seems odd) paired with salted dried fish (Tuyo). I believe it is because you have to have something salty to offset the sweetness of this porridge. I personally love the pairing, not only because I love to have balance on my palate but also because this breakfast always reminds me of when I was a kid and when I always used to have breakfast with my grandmother and back when my younger brother (who today celebrates his birthday) and I were just kids and how our world back then only revolves around breakfast-cartoons-snack-lunch-play-snack-cartoons-dinner-sleep. So I guess, this is one of my comfort foods after all. -jeannie
SHAOLIN FRIED RICE
(chicken, pork, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, green onions, chopped omelette and basmati rice)
I called this fried rice Shaolin because… well, I’ve served this in a fierce dragon bowl and I am serving this to you while in a Kung Fu- Xiao Hong Quan - Little Red Fist- fighting position… though still with a smile! :)
BOILED RICE, FRIED FISH AND SOYSAUCE
…Are probably the most boring trio for a meal to a lot of people. A bowl of simply boiled unseasoned white rice, plain fried Tilapia fish and soysauce does not exactly scream refined cuisine or bold flavors… it is obviously a humble man’s feast. But to me it is my most treasured meal.
I was raised in a comfortable home by simple grown-ups. My family bonds around food because I know that mostly every member of my family are good and great cooks and loves eating well. On every memorable occasion such as birthdays, anniversaries, graduations or send-off parties, my family always go all out with providing our guests with delicious food. My Grandmother, god bless her, was the most meticulous and technical cook and the best cook of course. She was the one who taught me to do things well in cooking, like each individual ingredient should be cut or prepared in a certain way. In a way I was taught early on by her to have integrity in even the most mediocre thing I will ever do. Grandmother Rosie (but I called her Nanay) when I was a child also taught me to be a very humble eater. On normal days, she, my brother and I would often have fried fish, boiled rice and soysauce for lunch and dinner. Our mid-afternoon snacks most of the time were just plain bananas, boiled sweet potatoes smeared with butter and sprinkled with sugar, boiled peanuts and a gallon of ice cream a month (every month after she receives her pension money). It was a very simple time back then… Me and my brother were raised with high moral values and at very low maintenance.
Although and specially now that I can experience eating anything from mashed potatoes to wagyu beef or foie gras at probably any time I want to, if I am given a choice between a plate of fried fish,rice,soysauce and a high-class plate of Seared Foie Gras and Duck breast with Cherry Demi glace and tomato confit… I will definitely still pick the former. Then probably I’ll just have the foie gras and duck plate for dessert. ;)