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.
Rainy Days and Soup Comfort : Asian Glass Noodle Chicken Soup
I am one of a tiny number of people who does not complain about rainy days. For me, a handful of really happy childhood memories involved the rain, raindrops and the damp and gray atmosphere of rainy seasons.
Somehow and in a bit odd way, I find the most comfort and calm watching the rain pour outside as if life, even though gray, will always be abundant and always with a promise of never to experience drought metaphorically and literally.
Foodie cliche as it is, hot soup, whatever variety or type it may be will always be the perfect meal for rainy days. It not only warms you up but acts, I believe, as a sort of pacifier for feelings of cold, uneasiness and restlessness for being in a way stranded indoors.
I love chicken soup whatever variety it may be, whether homey with humble flavoured broth or unabashedly spiced with hot exotic spices and even chilies there is no stopping me from sipping… even slurping, with a quiet and still demure lady-like bearing, a bowl of soup.
This particular Asian Glass Noodle Chicken Soup is actually a staple in my home even in monsoon season. It is very simple to make and with few ingredients, it is definitely one of those soups that you would want to cook repetitively even on sunny and lazy days.
Just saute finely chopped onions, garlic and ginger in canola oil until this trifecta of aromatics are fragrant. Then saute the chunks of chicken breast fillets. Add hot chicken broth infused with a pinch of saffron threads (pinch of powdered saffron Thank you Laura!) and let simmer for about 30 minutes so that the soup develops a homemade and savoury flavour, season with salt and pepper. Add the (cold water) soaked glass noodles (rice vermicelli noodles) and cook for 3 minutes.Turn off heat, flake the chicken, serve the noodles in a bowl and top with chicken, crispy fried garlic shingles and thinly sliced spring onions.
Goddess of Scrumptiousness Food Photography and Original Recipes by Jeannie Maristela is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at goddessofscrumptiousness.tumblr.com
Poached Manila Clam in Clear Broth
This soup is clean, light and refreshing. The broth is flavoured with the clean taste of vegetables (bokchoy, spring onions, bell peppers, shiitake mushrooms, tomatoes, green beans and seaweed).
P.S I saved the clam shells… because aside from all the bunch of things that keep my hands occupied (^^) I do crafts too! :D
This prawn soup dish is called Sinigang, a savory-sour soup starring these luscious and plump tiger prawns. The broth/soup is flavored with sour tamarind juice, is also infused with tomatoes, red onions, ginger, and long green chilies, and finished with fish sauce to add some salty Asian depth into the broth.
I make this soup once a week because it is the fastest dish I can literally cook for 20 minutes. It is light, it does not contain any fat from cooking oils because you mainly just poach all the ingredients in one stock pot, and it is hearty because we eat it along with just plain boiled rice.
I have a certain way of eating this type of Sinigang (Prawn Sinigang). I start with picking out the prawns out of my soup bowl, I then severe the head of the prawns one by one, I suck the heads (this is a very benign description… adult humor is uncensored, but not encouraged!) of the prawns and all it’s prawny flavors, then I peel the prawns. I then bite a bit of prawn meat, I follow this barbaric act with a spoonful of rice immediately succeeded by a good slurping of the soup. And this whole eating ritual takes longer than the time I had to cook this darn soup! :)
LENTIL AND PROSCIUTTO SOUP
I love the comfort of soup on rainy days.
Soup always promises warmth and coziness… the two most welcomed feelings when all is drenched with cold water, the blue skies overcast with gray and everybody is obliged to stay indoors.
A bowl of hot and hearty soup makes every aspect of cold fade away. :)
BEEF BRISKET EGG NOODLES SOUP
This was made by my mother yesterday for Sunday lunch. she braised the beef brisket for 3 hours until it just melts in the mouth.The broth is flavoured with a slight nuance of star anise and all the beefy goodness of the brisket.
Me and my brother are very lucky, because even though our mother is a working mom ever since we can remember, she always makes it a point to cook dishes that are hearty and usually with soup every Saturdays and Sundays, because she always believes that everything you ate throughout the weekdays were not at all completely nutritious and nourishing.
Yesterday, our Saturday lunch was composed of Steamed Crabs, Poached Mussels in Ginger Broth and Panko Crusted Prawns… a seafood spread really also all cooked by my mother. Most of my cooking techniques and methodology in the proper preparation of food came from the teachings of both my grandmothers (on both sides of my parents) and from my mother and father. My mother and grandmother would always say to me back when I was little that, “If you can’t properly prepare food (proper cuts, cooking methods and yes, the virtue of patience) then you have no business being in the kitchen”. I am a self-confessed kitchen rat even then, so I have and always will pay attention to my cuts and all that strict kitchen rules they instilled in me… What can I do? As the saying goes… You always hear your Mother’s voice (and my Grandmothers) inside your head!