‘Tis the season of getting sick, and nothing is more comforting than a bowl of hot soup or porridge! Arroz caldo, the Filipino version of chicken and rice soup or congee, is my personal go-to when I’m sick. It is absolutely full of flavor, with the ginger, onions, and garlic working so well together with the chicken and sticky rice. Using the Instant Pot, you’ll get this made in about 20 minutes! But if you don’t own one, that’s okay, I have instructions for a stove-top cooking method as well.
What is arroz caldo?
Arroz caldo literally means hot rice. Even though it has a Spanish name, it is actually has a Chinese origin. This is closest to the Chinese congee, which is basically a rice porridge. Ever since I can remember, my mom has always fed me arroz caldo when I got sick, so since then, I would always crave it if I’m feeling under the weather. I’m not really sure what’s so comforting about it, but I feel like it has something to do with all the ginger. If you ask any Filipino, ginger cures all ailments.
Can this be gluten-free?
So despite the name “glutinous rice,” sticky rice actually is gluten-free. The term “glutinous” just refers to the gluey-like texture of the rice after it cooks. The only thing you have to really be wary of is the brand of fish sauce and chicken broth you use. Depending on the brand and facility it was made in, your fish sauce and chicken broth may contain gluten. To ensure that your arroz caldo remains gluten-free, make sure to use Red Boat fish sauce and any gluten-free chicken broth brand, like Swanson.
What kind of chicken can I use?
For the love of flavor, please please please only use the dark meat part of chicken for this. Chicken thighs and/or drumsticks are the best type of chicken to use for arroz caldo. Your cooking time will vary depending on whether you use boneless or bone-in chicken. For maximum flavor, try to use bone-in chicken and cook for the full 20 minutes on the Instant Pot. If you happen to only have boneless chicken thighs, that’s okay too! You just have to cook it for less time on the Instant Pot (about 17 minutes).
You can also add some garnish or toppings to make this arroz caldo even more flavorful. My two favorite add-ons are boiled eggs and calamansi or lemon. There’s an inside joke among Filipinos that we can turn any dish into breakfast by adding eggs to it. That applies to arroz caldo as well! I highly recommend adding boiled eggs to the arroz caldo prior to serving. Frankly, you don’t have to wait for breakfast for you to include the boiled eggs–I personally love the boiled eggs with it every time I make this recipe. The squeeze of calamansi or lemon also just brings so much oomph to this very savory dish. The addition of acidity balances out all the flavors!
Other common add-ons are roasted garlic bits, and/or chopped scallions. I just happen to not be a big fan of either of those things, but they definitely add another depth of flavor to the arroz caldo.
Don’t have an Instant Pot? No problem!
If you don’t own an Instant Pot, you can definitely still make this recipe–it will just take just a little longer. In a large pot, sauté the onions and ginger in 3 tbsp of olive oil and medium high heat until the onions are translucent and ginger is aromatic. Add the mince garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Then, add the chicken, salt, pepper, and fish sauce and mix together, then cook until the chicken is slightly browned. Add the rice and mix with everything. Pour the chicken broth into the pot, cover it, lower the heat to medium low, and let it all simmer until the rice is cooked (about 30-35 minutes), stirring the pot occasionally while it cooks. Don’t let the consistency get too thick at this stage because it will continue to thicken overnight. If it accidentally gets too thick, just add more chicken broth as needed and put additional salt and pepper to taste.
Tools you’ll need
- 1.5 lbs chicken (drumsticks and/or thighs)
- 1.5 cups sweet sticky (glutinous) rice
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- half a large onion (chopped)
- 1 tbsp garlic (minced)
- 1.5 tbsp (about 2 inches) ginger (finely chopped)
- 1/2 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp group black pepper
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 10 cups chicken broth
- 6 boiled eggs (optional)
- squeeze of calamansi or lemon (optional)
- Put the Instant Pot in Sauté mode and heat up the 3 tbsp of olive oil. Once the screen of the Instant Pot reads, "Hot," sauté the onions and ginger until the onions are translucent and ginger is aromatic. Then, add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the chicken, salt, pepper, and fish sauce and mix together, then cook until the chicken is slightly browned. Then, add the rice and mix with everything. Pour the chicken broth into the pot, cover it, and put the steam release knob on the lid in the Sealing mode.
- Set the Instant Pot to the Soup/Broth mode, setting the timer to 20 minutes. If you ended up using boneless chicken thighs, then the timer should be at 17 minutes instead. Once the arroz caldo is done cooking, carefully move the steam release knob from Sealing to Venting to do a Quick Release. It'll take about 5 minutes for all the steam to get released.*
- Serve with boiled eggs and a squeeze of calamansi or lemon, or your preferred add-ons!
*If the consistency doesn't seem thick enough, leave it be! It will continue to thicken as time goes by, especially overnight.