Metro Manila, Philippines
Metro Manila, Philippines
Lugaw comes in a variety of forms, but the one thing they all have in common is its ability to soothe the soul
In this blog post, we’ll take you on a culinary journey through the heart of Filipino culture, as we explore the rich and varied world of Filipino lugaw variants. From savory to sweet, and everything in between, we’ll showcase the many flavors and textures of this beloved dish, and highlight some of the health benefits it offers. So grab a spoon and join us as we discover the delicious world of Filipino lugaw!
There is no question that rice porridge, locally known as lugaw, is one of the most beloved and comforting meals in the Philippines. A bowl of warm, hearty, and simple lugaw is, for the Filipino people, the epitome of comfort food and the sensation of being at home. Aside from the fact that cooking lugaw is really far from complicated, it is the kind of meal that’s ideal to munch on when the weather outside is a little chilly or when you or a loved one is fighting off a cold or the flu.
When the word ‘lugaw’ is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is just plain porridge with bits of garlic chips and spring onions, and maybe a hard-boiled egg submerged in the hot stew; the classic. However, the Philippines is home to a wide variety of rice porridges, each of which may be loved for its own distinct flavors.
Where it came from and its impact on the Filipino people
The origins of lugaw are murky. Lugaw is one of our ancestors’ first known foods, according to historical records. Fr. Pedro de San Buenaventura’s Vocabulario de la Lengua Tagala, published in 1613, describes it as “rice blended with milk or water or both” (porridge). But then, there’s the belief that it was actually brought to the Philippines by the Chinese. This notion could be pertaining to particular additions of Chinese elements to the basic recipe.
In the Philippines, lugaw is often considered by many as something that can categorize one’s social status. According to an article by Dr. Fernando B. Perfas, even he, himself, used to believe that law is a poor man’s meal as it was often looked at the same way by the generation before his own. Another reason for this kind of impression was that, in other regions in the Philippines, there is a belief that law is a byproduct of a poor man’s attempt to stretch out the small supply of rice so that he can feed his family.
Supposedly the minimal number of ingredients in plain lugaw stands as a family’s last resort in feeding their hungry stomachs, earning such a depiction in social class. This idea, thankfully, is not shared among all Filipinos as a lot still see lugaw as comfort food. Personally, I feel a little bit nostalgic whenever I eat lugaw as it used to be a Sunday morning meal for our family every time my parents would come home from the public market, paired with other classic Filipino rice cakes.
With all those aside, it is stated by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, that is more than just a beloved Filipino comfort meal; it is a significant representation of Filipino culture. Lugaw is traditionally created by simmering rice in water and salt until it is thick and creamy. The most prominent types of lugaw are the savory ones packed with ginger, various types of meat, and abundant toppings. But, filipino lugaw has various sweet counterparts made from chocolates, fruits, and coconut milk, and in this article, we will figure out some of these lugaw varieties.
The typical savory variants
Ah, the good old plain lugaw. In the Philippines, this is the most basic kind of rice porridge. The recipe only calls for simmering rice, water, and salt together until the mixture thickens. For a more powerful flavor, strips of ginger can be added. This recipe serves as a starting point for a variety of different rice porridges in the country.
The cooking process can be completed with the addition of any desired toppings. Some of the few staples for a simple bowl of lugaw are garlic chips, hard-boiled eggs, and a few spring onions. Fried tofu drenched in a vinegar and soy sauce blend is also a common complement. Typically eaten as a breakfast food, it truly is a simple yet comforting meal for Filipinos.
Get a recipe here: https://panlasangpinoy.com/lugaw-recipe/
The name “congee” is often used by Chinese restaurants in the Philippines to describe lugaw. There are multiple distinct kinds of congee, each of which is created by mixing a different set of ingredients. A century egg or quail egg, shrimp, dumplings, tofu, pork, and various types of meat are some of the ingredients that are often found in traditional Filipino congee dishes. It’s also typical to use vegetables in congee dishes, such as bok choy, carrots, and collard greens, in order to make the dish tastes more appetizing and indulgent.
Learn a recipe here: https://panlasangpinoy.com/chicken-congee-recipe/
Arroz caldo is a lugaw prepared by first sautéing ginger, garlic, and onions, and then add the rice and the stock. The Spanish terms ‘arozz’ and ‘caldo,’ which translate as ‘rice’ and ‘broth’ inspired the namesake. Arroz caldo, despite its Spanish name, derives its flavor and consistency from congee, a dish popular among Chinese and Filipino immigrants. Diverging from the traditional plain lugaw, Arroz caldo’s hallmark component is chicken meat.
It also has a signature flavor profile that prominently features ginger. Adding kasbah gives this porridge its distinctive yellow color. Individual bowls of arroz caldo are topped with a hard-boiled egg, garlic chips, onions, and black pepper. A rare version of this dish would be the arroz caldong palaka; you guessed it right, palaka as in “frog” in Filipino as the dish utilizes frog legs as an additional ingredient.
Get a recipe here: https://www.kawalingpinoy.com/arroz-caldo/
Arroz caldo con groto is another name for this dish, which is prepared similarly to arroz caldo but utilizes beef tripe instead of chicken. The term ‘goto’ is ‘beef tripe’ in Tagalog, which is in turn, derived from the Hokkien word ‘gû-tǒ͘’ meaning ‘ox-tripe.’ The tripe brings a deeper, more meaty taste to the porridge and also makes it much more enjoyable. The beef tripe is also sometimes substituted by other offal or organ meats such as pig intestines. It’s also infused with ginger and kasubha, which gives it a yellow hue. A single hot bowl is served with a hard-boiled egg and topped with chicharron, scallions, garlic chips, and black pepper.
Learn a recipe here: https://panlasangpinoy.com/filipino-food-congee-goto-recipe/
Sweet and creamy variants
Champorado is a chocolate-flavored porridge traditionally prepared with glutinous rice and tablea (pure ground cocoa beans). It’s possible to trace its history all the way back to the time when the Philippines were under Spanish colonial rule. A thick, warm Mexican liquor known as champurrado was introduced to the Philippines by Mexican merchants during the galleon trade between the two nations.
As time went by, the recipe for champurrado evolved to become the champorado that Filipinos adore. Sticky rice is typically boiled with tablea, which is then served hot or cold, commonly as a breakfast fare or as a snack, with milk and sugar to elevate the sweetness. An unusual but delicious combination is champorado with tuyo, often known as dried fish. The sweetness of the porridge is balanced by the saltiness of the fish.
Try a recipe: https://www.kawalingpinoy.com/champorado/
Sweet corn and rice porridge known as lugaw na mais, or ginataang mais, is a popular Filipino meal. It is also known as “lugaw na mais” and “lelut mais” in Kapampangan. It is often consumed hot throughout the colder months, but in the warmer summer months, it can be eaten cold. Popular in the Philippines, this sweet rice porridge is often eaten as a hearty midday snack or dessert.
To prepare Ginataang mais, glutinous rice must be boiled until it is nearly done. After that, the sweet corn, coconut milk, and sugar are added, and the heat is reduced just before the rice is finished cooking. Evaporated milk is sometimes used to augment the sweetness of the porridge. Additional ingredients that can be added would be latik or coconut caramel, vanilla, butter, and pinipig or flattened rice kernels.
Learn a recipe here: https://www.yummy.ph/recipe/ginataang-mais-recipe
Ginataang munggo, with various name iterations such as lelut balatung and tinungtungang munggo, is a popular Filipino sweet porridge made from glutinous rice that is traditionally prepared with roasted mung beans, sweetened coconut milk, and sugar. The roasted mung beans for this dish usually give off that sweet yet nutty flavor.
Vanilla or pandan leaves are often used as flavorings. This creamy porridge, like ginataang mais, is commonly served as a snack or merienda. Because it’s often enjoyed when still warm, it is an excellent choice for a snack as the weather becomes cooler. Other regions in the Philippines also refer to this recipe as “totong” or “sinugno” and often enjoyed with steaming coffee.
Get a recipe here: https://www.kawalingpinoy.com/ginataang-munggo/
Binignit is a traditional sweet porridge from the Visayan islands that is made by cooking glutinous rice in coconut milk. Binignit is a meal that is made using a variety of fruits and vegetables, including, amongst many other components, taro, sweet potatoes, and saba bananas. On Good Friday, in honor of the Catholic fast and the abstinence from eating meat, the people of the Visayas prepare a dish called binignit.
Learn a recipe here: https://panlasangpinoy.com/binignit-recipe/
Time has proved that a hot bowl of lugaw will always be a staple in Filipino cuisine regardless of the additional ingredients or the variety in the way of cooking. Whether someone is sick, reminiscing, or if it’s the cold season or not, lugaw will always be an ever-present comfort for many Filipinos. No matter what kind of lugaw you’re eating, rest assured that it will bring a smile not just to your face but also to your stomach. The bottom line is that lugaw is a huge part and already engraved in Filipino culture–it’s more than essential.