Rain has finally started pouring, and in days like these, nothing comforts like a hot bowl of . . . lugaw? Goto? Congee? Ewan, basta kanin na masabaw.
The truth is that most Filipinos can’t tell lugaw, goto, arroz caldo, and congee from each other. The confusion around these types of rice porridges is old as time – as old as the kaldereta/menudo/afritada perplexity.
We’re putting an end to the confusion once and for all.
Learn the difference between these dishes and how you can make them at home, just in time for summer monsoon season.
Lugaw is the basic dish or the starter recipe to which you can add other ingredients according to your liking. It’s also the umbrella term Filipinos use to refer to most rice porridge dishes, except champorado.
The simplest lugaw recipe is just glutinous rice or malagkit, chicken stock or bouillon cube, ginger, and patis. Sauté the onions, garlic, and ginger first then add some fish sauce before bringing to a boil. Mix in the rice grains and the stock then let it simmer until the mixture thickens. Adjust the seasoning as necessary.
You can sprinkle diced spring onions and toasted garlic bits on top for garnishing.
Diners and streetside vendors often offer side dishes, like hard-boiled egg and tokwa’t baboy to pair with your lugaw. They also give you some fish sauce, calamansi, and chili sauce so you can season your porridge to your taste.
Here in the Philippines, “congee” is the term Chinese restaurants use to refer to lugaw. They mix in different ingredients to create multiple variations of congee. Some of the typical congee dishes you’ll see use century eggs, quail eggs, seafood, dumplings, tofu, pork, and beef.
It’s also common to throw in vegetables in your congee, bok choy, carrots, and collard greens.
The cooking process for congee is similar to lugaw’s. Just make sure the meats and veggies are tender before adding in the rice grains.
Goto in English means ox tripe, which is the star of this rice porridge dish. The tuwalya gives the lugaw a richer, meatier flavor and makes it more filling. My favorite goto place serves theirs with a generous amount of tuwalya, chunks of braised beef, a hard-boiled egg, and lots of scallions and toasted garlic, which is why it’s my happy place (No, I can’t tell you where it is, sorry).
There’s not much difference between goto and lugaw apart from the toppings, so the cooking process is mostly the same. Just make sure to clean and tenderize the tripe properly before adding it to the pot.
Arroz caldo translates to “rice broth” in Spanish. What makes this different from the other porridges is the chunks of chicken and prominent ginger flavor. Most arroz caldo places add a pinch of saffron or safflower to their dish, giving it a yellow tint.
The best way to cook arroz caldo is to make the stock from scratch using whole chicken. This will make for a richer broth and give your porridge more umami flavor. The rest of the cooking process is similar with the other dishes.
Now you know the difference between lugaw, arroz caldo, goto, and congee, how do you eat these comforting bowls of rich, glutinous savory dishes?
Eat it warm or hot. Eat it when you’re sick or healthy. Eat it for breakfast (when someone’s already made it) or dinner (when it’s pouring out).
The point is lugaw, goto, or arroz caldo is comfort food, and (if there’s still an argument) it is essential for every Pinoy.
So go forth and eat your kanin na masabaw heartily.
How do you like your lugaw? Tell us in the comments below!
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