Friday, May 8, 2015

Cooking with Cecilia: Pospas, or Lugaw, or Congee

Perhaps because of my cold, I've been thinking of the comfort foods I used to have when I was young.  Number one on that list is Rice Porridge known in Cebu as Pospas. Tagalogs call it Lugaw or Arroz Caldo. Other people call it Congee.

It's basically chicken soup cooked with ginger and rice.

I'm not alone in this; many Filipinos will cite this dish as their top comfort food.

When I was young and got sick, it was almost like a holiday because I could stay home and read. Even when I was bedridden, it was never bad. The pampering I got was rather fun, and included in that was being served Pospas. (Jacob's crackers and light bland foods were also offered.)

Our cook didn't need any written recipe. She was like a magician when she threw cut-up chicken, ginger, and rice into a huge pot with water. The porridge would be served in a bowl garnished with chopped green onions. Sometimes, other condiments would be placed on top: salted red egg, chicharon, fried garlic, tinapa, and so on.  I could add patis (fish sauce) or soy sauce, if needed.

Propped up against pillows in bed, I would slowly eat the steaming bowl of rice porridge. I was taking in more than the chicken-rice soup, I was imbibing the care and love put into the food. The Pospas was very comforting.

There are different recipes in the internet, but here's a simple one courtesy of The rice-chicken soup can be bland; what makes it really good are the condiments you add.

Heat up a heavy casserole or soup pot and add about 3 tablespoons of oil. 
Saute 8-10 thick slices of ginger and a white or yellow onion for a minute or two over medium heat. 
Add 3-4 cloves of garlic finely chopped and cook for 2-3 more minutes. 
Add chicken parts (I like putting a lot as it becomes a full meal in a bowl for me, and I use parts with bones to add flavor) say 4 drumsticks and 4 wings or about one small chicken. 
Add 3-4 tablespoons of patis (fish sauce) and saute for another 2 minutes or so. Brown a bit, the more browning you do, the darker the final gruel. The aroma should be pungent by now. 
Add 1.5 cups of rice and 5 cups of water and 2 cups of chicken broth. 
Add more water later if needed. Stir to prevent sticking. 
Boil over low heat for about 15-20 minutes until the rice is cooked, stirring occasionally.
Serve with a garnish of chopped green onion.
Serve with kalamansipatis, fried garlic, soy sauce, etc. 
If you want a color flourish add kasubha (local saffron equivalent) or if you want color and rich flavor, add real saffron.

The next time you're sick, you know what to do: get some chicken, ginger, and rice, and make yourself Pospas.

(My cold is a bit worse this morning, but according to this link, on the second and third days one is likely to experience a worsening of symptoms.)

Read also:
Cooking with Cecilia- Pancit Bihon Guisado, Filipino rice noodle dish 
Cooking with Cecilia Brainard - Quiche
Cooking with Cecilia Brainard - Linguine with Clams
Cooking Lengua Estofada 
Cooking with Cecilia - Leche Flan (Vietnamese Style) 
Cooking with Cecilia - Beef Bourguignon 
Cooking with Cecilia - Chicken Soup for my Bad Cold 
Cooking with Cecilia - Short Bread Cookies and Friar Tuck in my Kitchen!
Cooking with Cecilia - Filipino Barbecue Pork 

Tags: food, Filipino, Philippine, congee, rice soup, lugaw, arroz caldo, pospas
This is all for now,

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