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Our daughter, Rama, was born in the Philippines. It’s a country known for its hot and humid weather but, more notoriously, for its fierce storms and typhoons. On days when rains seemed incessant, the family usually found comfort and security in happy banter at the table, while the aroma of rice steaming wafted from the kitchen. We knew what Rama loved most on days like these: rice cooked as porridge, with toppings of chicken and – yes, like most Filipino food – with some fish sauce stirred in. To this day, say Arroz Caldo and her eyes light up. Somehow this dish evokes a deep sense of comfort and nostalgia in her. Now that we all huddle in cold Canadian winter, nothing can be more perfect!

This recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 cup leftover roast chicken (white meat, pulled or shredded), divided;

2 tbsp neutral oil, like canola

¼ cup diced onion

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 tbsp ginger, peeled and chopped

2 cups white rice (medium grain or Arborio)

4-5 cups chicken broth

Water, as needed

White pepper, to taste

Fish sauce or salt to taste

Sliced green onion or scallion to garnish

Lemon juice to finish

Directions:

1.Saute onions, garlic and ginger in oil until onion is softened and the garlic and ginger are aromatic but not burned;

2.Add rice and stir to coat with oil;

3.Season with fish sauce or salt;

4.Add broth and bring to a boil; lower heat to simmer until rice is soft;

5.Add more broth or water for desired consistency or if porridge is too dry;

6.Before removing from heat, stir in half of the chicken and season with salt and pepper as needed.

7.Ladle equal amounts into 4 bowls; top each with chicken and green onions.

8.Finish with a drizzle of lemon juice.

Variation:

  1. Use salt instead of fish sauce; garnish with a pinch or two of saffron. Serve with a wedge of lemon.
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