Sunday, December 25, 2005

Glad Tidings to you . . .

Merry Christmas! Malagayang Pasko! Naimbag a Pascua! Maabig ya pasko! God Jul! Rõõmsaid Jõulupühi! Joyeux Noël! Buon Natale! Feliz Navidad! Bon Nadal! Fröhliche Weihnachten!

Christmas Eve we celebrate Nochebuena or "the Good Night." It is a time our families gather together to rejoice and feast on the varied holiday treats. The banquet is set out for all to enjoy. Our family tradition begins when the aroma of garlic, oinions, ginger and chicken broth fills the air. It is Mom preparing the "Arroz Caldo" to be served upon our return from Midnight Mass. It is simple. It is comfort. It is joy. It is Christmas Eve and makes for "the Good Night".

Arroz Caldo

3 tablespoon vegetable or corn oil
2 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped onion
8 1/2-inch slices of ginger
1 2 - 3 1/2 pound chicken, cut into serving pieces
4 tablespoons patis* (or 2 tablespoons salt)
6 cups water
2 cups uncooked rice
1/4 cup chopped scallion
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

In a large covered stockpot, heat oil and saute garlic, onion and ginger. Wait for the garlic to turn brown and onions become transparent. Add the chicken and patis or salt. Cover and let simmer for 5 minutes. Chicken will produce its own juices. Add water and rice. Stirring often to prevent sticking, simmer for 25 minutes over low heat or until chicken and rice are tender. Add chopped scallion and pepper before serving.

* Patis is your good old Filipino fermented fish sauce. AKA - Vietnamese "Nuac Mam" or Thai "Nam Plah"

I like to use chicken thighs, with bone in-skin on, as they impart a full flavor. My brother offers chopped cilantro along with lemon and the chopped scallion (green onions). For a deep rich broth, he uses prepared chicken broth in place of the water and patis.

Adapted from: Reynaldo Alejandro's Philippine Cookbook.