In the Philippines our staple food consists primarily of rice. I am sharing my top five favorites using cooked rice. The rice grains are still preserved and not ground into flour. There’s different kinds of rice. They vary according to taste, size, texture and color. My top five doesn’t include desserts that uses rice flour. These are five Filipino rice recipes you can make and still can be enjoyed despite the lack of access of some ingredients. This is where our creativity starts to kick in.
1. Garlic Fried Rice
My favorite is the basic garlic fried rice or what we call “sinangag”. It has lots of garlic, salt, pepper and day old cooked rice. It is commonly served during breakfast with some eggs to your liking, grilled or fried meat called “tapa” or with some dried fish or a sausage called “longanisa” and of course with a side of veggies like pickled papaya or sliced tomatoes. It is quick and easy to prepare for breakfast when you’re on the go. For some reason the smell of garlic and coffee together in the morning is nothing but perfection!
2. Arroz Caldo
Arroz Caldo is a true Filipino classic which is similar to a congee. It is made with chicken, soup and rice with some fish sauce, and a squeeze of lemon with fried garlic. I usually like mine with added chopped green onions and a hard boiled egg using BONE IN chicken! Yeah that’s right, I’ve learned to realize that some folks would prefer to have chicken breast, no bone ever! Butchering our own chickens in the back yard was normal to me when I was growing up and we usually left the bone in because it gives a better flavor. Chicken and rice is simmered with ginger until it is soft. Ginger has a distinct taste in this dish however it is probably a good way to get rid of the chicken smell. This is a “one pot” meal if you’re looking for an easy dinner for just a plain snack for everyone. This is an absolute favorite of mine on a rainy cold days.
Biko is a sticky rice cake which has only three ingredients which consist of sweet rice or glutinous rice preferably the white color, coconut milk and sugar. Different towns or cities have their own way in making this popular food. This is eaten as a dessert or snack. It doesn’t matter what time. We Filipinos love to snack and eat in between. Don’t you agree? Biko is sold everywhere in the Philippines and it is one of my favorite growing up. I remember my grandmother making it and her house smells so good. I usually remember them eating it as an afternoon snack with fresh brewed coffee.
via maputing cooking
Suman is again made of sticky rice, sugar, and coconut cream wrapped in banana leaf and cooked through steaming. The banana leaf gives a good flavor to the rice. This is the basic version I prefer to have. It can be made out of grated cassava but it’s a little disappointing when it’s not cooked well. The taste and texture changes when it’s cooled down in my opinion. This is usually paired with some ripe Philippine mango. Now if you haven’t had any Philippine mango, you don’t know what I’m talking about. It is by far the sweetest mango I’ve ever had. I’ve tried some mangoes from other nearby Asian countries but it doesn’t even come close to the taste. Mangoes from Mexico and other Northern American countries are mostly sour even when its ripe in my opinion.
via Cebu Laguna
Champorado, or chocolate rice porridge is best served at breakfast. The smell of a rich chocolate flavor is very enticing early in the morning. It helps to start the day right. Traditionally it is made with glutinous rice and cocoa powder cooked until it’s in a thick consistency and served with some cream or milk. Most people eat with some dried fish, if you can see the contrast of this meal, then you are right. Since I am mostly allergic with fish, I never tried it with fish. As a kid, I remember buying this in grade school for .50 cents a bowl. Now tell me that’s one heck of a healthy meal right there!
via Burnt Lumpia
Making these dishes is sometimes a good challenge for me since some ingredients aren’t always available in my area, or it’s already frozen and not fresh. The result makes a huge difference in flavor. Sometimes I will substitute other ingredients that are accessible and close to the flavor I am used to. Again I have to emphasize that different towns or provinces have a different version of these meals. The recipes I will recreate would be according to my preferred lifestyle. You are more than welcome to make it your own and share it with friends. What are your favorites?