Mark guides you through how he builds flavour and texture in his Arroz Caldo which is a dish based on Lugau, the Filipino version of the Chinese rice porridge congee. It's known as comfort food - the perfect homey pick-me-up so when making it your own you can draw upon your own comfort foods for inspiration.
Key aromatics - Mark uses garlic, ginger & shallots/onions, otherwise referred to as the holy trinity in filipino food and often found in different quantities across filipino dishes. It's a classic base to build upon like mirepoix in French cooking. In Arroz Caldo, ginger is the most prominent for its restorative and healing properties. He supplements with a splash of soy sauce for its umami flavour.
Meat Cut & Stock - the stock is a key part of this comfort dish. Mark leaves the chicken meat on the bone for the savoury, umami-rich flavour you get from the gelatin. He uses the chicken thigh which is dark meat with a higher fat content for a fuller flavour and tender texture compared with chicken breast.
Toppings - these are key. Common ones which Mark uses are fried garlic for crunch and the caramelisation flavour, spring onions for freshness and colour and a squeeze of calamansi juice (a Filipino citrus) to balance the flavours. He also takes the chicken skin off the thighs and fries them until crispy for sprinkling on top of the dish.
Condiments - Mark serves his Arroz Caldo with Patis (fish sauce), for added saltiness, depth and an umami flavour. Again for a similar depth and saltiness, he serves the dish with a salted duck egg - a real flavour bomb.
Rice - This is a key element to most Filipino dishes but the Arroz Caldo in particular. Mark combines jasmine rice which has a softer, fluffier texture with sticky rice which has a gummier, chewier texture to bring elements of both to the dish.
Vegetarian - to make this dish vegetarian-friendly you can replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock and instead of chicken you can play around with different vegetables, mushrooms, tofu or plant proteins.
Toppings - this is where you can get really creative thinking about colour and texture. Some great options you can try are adding chicharon (deep fried pork skin), tinapa which are deep fried fish flakes for example, smoked haddock flaked on top if you decide to go down the seafood route, or you can use fried mushrooms. If you like a bit more spice to your food, you can throw on some birds eye chilli to garnish, crushing out the seeds to infuse the rice directly (or you can cook it in at the beginning).
Condiments - these are often strong flavours that are left for the eater to add to their own preferred level of intensity, so it's a great way to play with flavour that packs a punch. You can try different sauces to accompany your dish, and if you aren't a fan of salted duck egg you can use a boiled egg without brining.