Comfort in the Depths of Winter

This week I feel the need for comfort food. Ah, chicken and rice soup is my restorative go-to. The Chinese version is called congee and the Korean version is called jook. But I make the Filipino version called arroz caldo, Spanish for hot rice.

I start out with boneless thighs cut into small chunks, browned in a neutral oil in a large, heavy pot along with lots of chopped ginger, thin slices of the white part of green onion, and a few garlic cloves. When garlic and ginger are aromatic, I add the rice and water and stir up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. I start with 1 cup of rice and four cups of water, then just add water pretty much all day till it is the thickness I like. I add soy sauce or sea salt to taste.

Now here’s the big variation–a can of coconut milk. This enriches the soup and increases the nutritional value as well. In the Philippines, the soup is served garnished with thinly sliced green onion tops, a squeeze of lemon juice and a teaspoon or two of Rufino Fish Sauce (also called patis, say pah-teese. Don’t buy that fishy Thai version at the grocery store!) Rufino is not fishy and it adds a nutty umami note to the dish that is wonderfully comforting.

Enjoy!