Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chicken Arroz Caldo

With summer season officially bidding adieu , fall's hazy ,wet and cold weather slowly creeps in, causing a bit of mayhem to people's bronchioles and the rest of their  respiratory tract. Burst of sneezes,  coughs and nose blowing became as trendy as those Autumn's Ugg boots. With half our the team falling ill, courtesy of our very own patrons of course (thank you very much aerogenic microbes!), the risk of getting infected  is now higher than having to clean a bedpan trice in a shift. I  never  catch a cold!'', I declared a little too early and yes too arrogantly to my colleague as I, unfortunately have to clean, the second bed pan halfway through our shift. I should have knocked on a wood that time, but with both  occupied balancing a stainless steel pan, that's hardly possible.  I did not catch a cold that day, I swallowed it..whole. It came overnight. I woke up feeling like I slept on a bed of corals. Every part of my anatomy aches like hell-ow Kitty. Looks like cheeky li'l madam is not a tough as she thought. My temperature's acting up and decided to play roller coaster, perhaps to test if middle age women could still have convulsions,   dry rumbly cough that could wake sleeping beauty in her 100 years coma, head's  spinning and feels like it was invaded by tiny people with tingling voices and large noisy feet, nose clogged with thick and greenish boog.   okey no details in that and worst no appetite! Food tasted like paper in my mouth, every swallow  of food burns my throat. Oh agony , agony!

It took a week for my palate to recover and to make foods taste like food again. On the 6th day of staying mostly on bed, I woke up, stood and marvel at the feeling that the world stayed still and my feet did not wobble. Aha! I am me again, not the growling, groaning and  wheezing furball in bed! To speed up recovery, I decided to make something simple, soothing and yet filling. Feed the stomach, fill the soul be sick no more!

Arroz Caldo is one comforting dish akin to rice porridge. It has everything what a recovering body needs. Rice (yay!) as a source of much need energy, no point shying away from carbs today. Good savory broth which is rich in fluids and minerals. Chicken and egg, protein times two for regeneration  and then, there's ginger root, which has a soothing and therapeutic effect on sored and painful throat. The cooking process is quite simple even somebody with body malaise could handle it. Here's how I did mine.

Prepare and chop ingredients. Peel ginger and cut it into thin slices, Cut a bunch of scallions separating the white and greens stalks. Crush about 3  cloves of garlic. Wash, pat dry and cut chicken pieces into portions. For this recipe, I used 350 g of chicken wings which were already cut into serving portions. It's just a personal preference.

Heat 3 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a pot, brown chicken pieces in it. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Add in chopped white scallion stalks. Call it weird, but I love the  bitter and smoky taste of toasted or burnt spring onion in my arroz caldo and so I let the white scallion sit a little too long in hot oil until it turned golden brown. Then throw in chopped garlic let it set, until it too, will render its aroma . Then add the sliced ginger mixing everything together so the chicken meat will absorb some of those aromatics . Finally drizzle a  splash of fish sauce. Into the pot  goes 250 g of rice, toss everything gently. Pour 1.5 liters of hot chicken,  cover and let everything simmer for about 40 minutes stirring the contents of the pot occasionally. Now, some people prefer thick and smooth arroz caldo that shares the consistency of a Chinese porridge. One must cook rice long enough to achieve it and continuous stirring is necessary. I on the other hand like my lugaw, soupy so when I notice that the caldo's turning too thick for my liking, I added a cup or two  of hot broth until it became runny again.

Once you achieved your preferred consistency, season the caldo with salt and pepper again. Serve arroz caldo with boiled egg, chopped green onion and toasted crushed garlic. A drizzle of fish sauce and a squeeze of lime or calamansi juice and you're gone off to some eminent space perhaps walking with a mystical fairy threading the path to recovery.

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