Colder, wetter months call for a piping hot soup of arroz caldo. It is a ubiquitous fare among many Filipinos who rise early to frequent their favorite vendor, usually home cooks looking to earn some profit but have since established themselves as a go-to place.
Arroz caldo or rice porridge locally known as lugaw or goto (the difference really in is the toppings or the absence thereof) is so ingrained in our psyches that we have a phrase called “tubong lugaw.” It pertains to how many would resort to selling this comforting meal to earn a living because really all you need to make it is rice, basic spices, water and salt—ideally, though broth is what really brings out its heartiness.
But with these small-time vendors and well-known franchises closed or limiting their dine-in operations due to the pandemic, it may be harder to visit our favorite lugawan (we miss Goto Monster for sure).
Even actress Beauty Gonzalez is homesick for arroz caldo. Luckily, it’s really easy to make. Like really. It’s basically a one-pot recipe that you just sauté, leave to simmer until done and, as Beauty does, pray over.
You can even switch up the rice grains for and opt for something like black rice.
The fun part is choosing which toppings to go with it. Beauty likes to make her own sides from the usual tokwa’t baboy—the pork pan-fried with a little garlic to remove the “lansa”—to the shrimp.
What the lugaw base lacks in flavor complexity, the assortment of toppings more than make up for: tokwa’t baboy doused in spiced vinegar, crunchy chicharon, crispy garlic chips, fresh green onions and for a little brightness, a squeeze of calamansi.
But really, anything is possible with lugaw. You can add adobo flakes, salted egg or mushrooms for plant-based eaters.
With that, all that’s left to do as Beauty says, is to “eat it!” (exclamation point required).
Nolisoli Comfort Kitchen comes out Monday and Thursday nights on our IGTV.
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