Arroz Caldo: Saves the Environment and also time from rehydrating patients! – Dr. Plastic Picker

Arroz Caldo: Saves the Environment and also time from rehydrating patients!

| Posted in Vegan Dreams - Less plastic, More plants, More Fiber

Arroz caldo by a parent April. Photo credit by parent April.

January 17, 2020

by drplasticpicker

Happy Friday morning! There is so much to do in the world. I have a full day of clinic today and then it will be the glorious weekend. The Sweetwater Union High School Board is threatening to eliminate @drplasticpicker’s beloved International Baccalureate Program at my alma madre Bonita Vista High School. I try to stay out of politics, but I will take some time away from the environment to help attend a school board meeting and advocate for this program. I was going to write a ranting post about ineffective local officials and why ineffective systems pushed me into management and environmental activism – but I thought, better to channel my energy this morning into the Arroz Caldo post that I have been meaning to write. This evening, I will compose the letter and make calls to the school board members.

Encouraging everyone to learn how to cook and then make frequently their traditional soup or porridge dishes will meet several of my aims. One, to decrease ocean plastic pollution because the more home-cooked meals we make the less plastic from fast food or processed foods we will throw away. Two, to decrease the rates of childhood obesity because home-cooked meals are always better than nutrient poor fast food meals. Three, to decrease my work in clinic and health care cost because if you hydrate your children with your own soup, you will less likely need to come into clinic for a visit or for rehydration. Cooking soup is cheaper than a doctor’s salary.

Arroz Caldo is the Filipino version of rice congee, that is a local Filipino adaption of the rice gruel from Chinese immigrants. I am of a different Southeast Asian persuasian, and I was always curious as to why Arroz Caldo was so similar to my own mother’s dish but why in the world it had a Spanish name? As you know the Phillipines was a Spanish colony for 350 years hence the name derived from arroz caldoso which means “brothy rice.” Now I have been humbly educated about the history of this wonderful dish.

@drplasticpicker is not an expert on Arroz Caldo. I am only an expert on eating it, as I have had it multiple times in our lunchroom made by wonderful co-workers. Our office lunch room is an amazing place where we often have a pot of soup or arroz caldo cooking, and we all eat together. I intend to try to make arroz caldo tonight! I’ll let you know how it goes. But I have been lucky in life that my mother makes our culture’s version and I have eaten rice porridge throughout my life. Other than when I was giving birth and the anesthesiologist overloaded me with too much intravenous fluids and my lower legs ballooned up post-op, I have never needed IV hydration – likely because I always had a mother that made me this loving dish.

So I want this for my patients as well. Less and less parents know how to cook Arroz Caldo because they are too busy both working for dual incomes to pay the bills in our ever more expensive Southern California housing market. For some reason I had seen five families that I really adore and they all happened to be Filipino ancestry, and all the kids were toddlers to beginning school age and all had vomiting and diarrhea. I just decided that day, everyone really should have Arroz Caldo but all the grandmothers of those families were out of town or sick themselves. Yes I gave the children zofran and yes I orally rehydrated them in clinic successfully. I asked the mothers to do the standard oral hydration with soups and broths, pedialyte and yellow gatorade – but wouldn’t it be great if the kids had Arroz Caldo? I asked each family to try to learn how to cook it – because food is medicine and I have been tired of doing the same thing for the last 15 years. How much money do we waste on outpatient office visits for dehydration? Indeed Jay Pershad published a review in 2012 A systematic data review of the cost of rehydration therapy that at least for elderly patients “estimated annual inpatient costs for dehydration therapy exceeding $US1 billion in the US in 1999 for elderly patients alone. ” That is indeed as much as the country spends on Miralax, which I wrote about in a whole other post on the Pediatric Fiber Deficit and Pediatric Constipation Crisis

So the above picture is a success story for April, a successful career working mother who is Filipina-American, and she made Arroz Caldo after our visit. Indeed when I saw her again, she had made it twice! Her child did not require any more visits for gastroenteritits and did not require IV hydration therapy. April said to me, “I can’t believe it was that easy.” April continued to relate to me that both her husband and father-in-law were essentially shocked that this uber-successful career woman who has never made Arroz Caldo, made it and made it well. Indeed, as she left she said that it was on the menu for dinner.

April is a great supporter of this @drplasticpicker project, and I indeed thank you for allowing me to share your story! She emailed our blog the web recipe that she used from Kawalang Pinoy . com.

Arroz Caldo

Prep Time10 mins

Cook Time50 mins

Total Time1 hr Course

Author: Lalaine Manalo


  • 1 (3 to 4 pounds) whole chicken, cut into serving pieces
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 4 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 bouillon cubes
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the Toppings

  • 3 hardboiled eggs, peeled and halved
  • 1/4 cup fried garlic bits
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
  • calamansi or lemon, cut into wedges
  • fish sauce

For the Fried Garlic Bits

  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 head garlic, cut into wedges


  • Trim chicken of unwanted fat, rinse and drain well.
  • In a pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add onions, ginger and garlic. Cook, stirring regularly, until softened and aromatic.
  • Add chicken and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly browned and have rendered juices. Add fish sauce and continue to cook for around 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add rice and cook, stirring regularly, for about 1 to 2 minutes or until rice starts to lightly brown.
  • Add water and bring to a boil, skimming scum that floats on top.
  • Add bouillon cubes and stir to dissolve.
  • Lower heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the rice has softened and expanded and the congee has thickened to desired consistency.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Ladle into serving bowls. Top with boiled egg, green onions, and toasted garlic. Serve hot with calamansi and additional fish sauce on the side.

Please refer to the original website for also a cool cooking demonstration video

Thank you April for your wonderful and delicious contribution to @drplasticpicker and also to your own family’s health! You have motivated me your pediatrician to try to make this dish tonight! It’s rainy in Southern California and expected to continue to downpour and it will be just my son and myself at home for dinner tonight. A perfect time for this Vietnamese-American pediatrician to make this Filipino dish for my half Korean/half Vietnamese (but culturally American son) – because we are all one people who need to cook more at home and Arroz Caldo can save our oceans from plastic pollution and fast food packaging!

Want to try cooking a Thai dish for dinner? Click here to see what Mom-Friend Usa wants drplasticpicker to try cooking! Panang Salmon!

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