Arroz Caldo (Savory Rice Porridge)

Nicole Ponseca

Jeepney and Tita Baby, NYC

Miguel Trinidad

Jeepney and Tita Baby, NYC

“Arroz caldo—rice simmered with a little ginger, garlic, and chicken stock until soft and supple—ranks with tinola as an excellent cold remedy. The Chinese likely introduced it to us as the similar dish called congee. Some scholars theorize that our Spanish colonizers didn’t care to learn the Chinese names of things, so they renamed them in their own language, hence arroz caldo, which means “rice broth” in Spanish. In some parts of the Philippines, the same dish is also known as lugaw or goto. No matter what you call it, arroz caldo is a perfect lunch or meryenda snack; serve it with a splash of lemon juice and fish sauce. This porridge is made with two types of rice—equal parts jasmine and glutinous rice (a trick [Nicole] learned from [her] father). The glutinous rice will hold its shape longer than regular rice throughout the simmering process. Try experimenting with whatever toppings you like, from scallions to roasted Brussels sprouts to shaved raw beets.”—JBF Award nominees Nicole Ponseca and Miguel Trinidad


Chicken Stock:

  • 5 pounds chicken bones
  • 2 celery stalks, each cut into 3 pieces
  • 2 large quartered white onions  
  • 1 large halved carrot
  • 1/4 cup cilantro stems
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

Arroz Caldo:

  • 1 recipe (8 cups) chicken stock 
  • 2 cups uncooked jasmine rice or equal parts jasmine and glutinous rice 
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 quartered lemon for serving (optional)
  • Fish sauce, for serving (optional)


Make the broth: preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the chicken bones on a rimmed baking sheet and roast, turning them occasionally with tongs, until they are nicely browned on all sides, about 1 hour. Drain off any fat that may have accumulated in the pan and reserve it for another use, such as for roasting vegetables or making fried rice. Transfer the bones to a large stockpot and add the celery stalks, onions, carrots, cilantro stems, bay leaves, peppercorns, and 5 quarts (5 L) water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium-low so the stock cooks at a simmer. Simmer for at least 2 hours and up to 3 hours. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding the solids. Store the stock in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to several months.

Make the arroz caldo: in a large saucepan or stockpot, stir together the stock, rice, ginger, and garlic. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to make sure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom, and then reduce the heat until the liquid is just at a simmer. Cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, until the arroz caldo is thick and starchy, and the rice is soft but the individual grains are still distinct, at least 30 minutes.

Serve hot and season with salt, a squeeze of lemon, and a splash of fish sauce, if desired.

Note: Some people like to cook their arroz caldo until the grains of rice have started to break down and disintegrate, but we like them to retain just a little bit of texture. If they do get too soft, it’s okay—the dish will still taste good.


Excerpted from I Am A Filipino by Nicole Ponseca and Miguel Trinidad (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2018. Photography by Justin Walker


4 to 6 servings