Most countries in Asia have their own version of rice porridge. It goes by many different names: congee in China, juk in Korea, okayu in Japan and lugaw in the Philippines.

Filipino rice porridge is typically served as a mid-afternoon snack or what we call “merienda”. It is also considered comfort food specially during the cold and rainy season. When I was growing up my mom would always make us arroz caldo when we are feeling under the weather. The reason being it is easy to digest. Lugaw is also commonly given to babies when they are introduced or learning to eat solid food.

Rice porridge can be made plain with just rice, water and ginger and onions as seasonings. It can also be prepared with various meats (chicken, pork or fish) and toppings (green onions, fried garlic or shallots, boiled egg, fried tofu etc) for a more hearty dish.

To make chicken arroz caldo, In a heavy bottomed pan I sautéed , 1 thumb sized ginger cut into slivers, 1 finely chopped medium onion and a couple of cloves of garlic minced. Once everything is soft and aromatic I added 3 pieces boneless and skinless chicken thighs cut into bite size pieces. Cook until the meat is no longer pink. Typically bone in chicken is used to make a more flavorful broth. I decided to use boneless and skinless thighs for convenience.

I then added 2 cups (using the cup measure of my rice cooker) of rinsed jasmine rice. Stir until the rice is coated with the oil and seasonings. Add 6-8 cups of water or chicken broth. Stir and cover until it comes to a boil, then lower heat and continue cooking while stirring constantly until the rice is soft and thickened. Season with pepper, salt or fish sauce.

Ladle into bowls and top with a few slices of boiled egg, some chopped green onion and fried garlic. Before serving a squeeze of lemon and splash of fish sauce is typically for an added boost of flavor. This is entirely optional and depends on your taste.