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A bowl of arroz caldo with cuts of cooked chicken breast, topped with spring onions, cilantro, and fried garlic

Just Add Oats: A New Way to Enjoy Rainy-Day Arroz Caldo

For many Filipinos, nothing is more comforting than arroz caldo. It features malagkit rice cooked in chicken broth and flavored with garlic and ginger. The traditional recipe requires minimal prep and comes together in one pot, making it the perfect dish to enjoy on lazy, rainy days.

But as essential as it is to the Filipino diet, processed white rice is short on some much-needed nutrients like fiber. So, if you want to make your arroz caldo recipe more nutritious, consider using oats instead. Once these whole grains have cooked down, you won’t even notice the difference.

Want to make the swap? Learn about the different oats you can use and how you can transform them into this heartwarming dish. Plus, get tips on how to level up lugaw with a few tasty add-ons.

The Different Types of Oats for Arroz Caldo

Steel-cut oats

Cutting whole grain kernels produces steel-cut oats. Though they come in smaller pieces, they still take a lot of time to cook – between 20-30 minutes on average. These oats retain many nutritional benefits from the freshly harvested, minimally processed kernels.

Rolled or old-fashioned oats

Rolled oats are steamed and flattened kernels. These flakes are more shelf-stable than steel-cut since they’re dried out to remove moisture. They cook in less than 10 minutes and are typically sugar-free.

Quick or instant oats

These oats are steamed longer and prepared thinner than steel-cut or rolled. And because they don't require much cooking, instant oats are a staple in many Filipino households. When choosing this variety, look for those with zero added sugars to get the most nutritional value.

Top Health Benefits of Oats

Whole oat kernels in a canvas sack with a wooden scooper and oatmeal flakes in a wooden bowl, styled with stems of oat grass

Promotes better digestion.

The fiber in oats takes longer to digest, which satisfies hunger, prevents overeating, and keeps you full for longer. It also helps regulate the bowels and improve overall gut health.

Reduces the risk of heart disease.

Whole grains like oats help lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, and manage the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. New Zealand’s Heart Foundation estimates that whole grains can “reduce your risk of heart disease by up to 30%.”

Manages blood sugar and insulin levels.

When looking for healthy sources of fiber to add to a low-sugar diet, stick to whole grains like steel-cut or rolled oats. These have a lower glycemic load vs. their highly processed counterparts, so they’re less likely to affect blood sugar levels after meals.

How to Cook Arroz Caldo with Oats

A bowl of savory oats with a fried egg on top, garnished with sesame seeds and spring onions

Step 1: Prepare your aromatics.

Prepare a large pot big enough to cook your desired portion of oats. Heat oil over medium flame, then sauté chopped garlic until lightly toasted. Add sliced onions and a generous amount of ginger. Continue sautéing until fragrant.

Step 2: Add your chicken.

Add chicken breast chunks and cook until they develop a golden-brown sear. Shred into smaller pieces to release more flavor and vary the textures.

Step 3: Cook your oats in broth.

Add oats to the mix, then stir to coat the grains in oil. If you’re using steel-cut, pour in ¾ cup water for every ¼ cup oats. If you’re using rolled oats, the ratio is 2:1. Bring the water to a boil, then add Knorr Chicken Cubes. Cook over low to medium heat, stirring frequently to avoid clumps.

Steel-cut or rolled work best for this dish, but you can also try unsweetened instant oats. However, you should only add them after the broth comes to a boil to keep the oats from turning to mush. Remove from the heat and stir quickly to help them absorb flavors.

Step 4: Serve hot with your choice of toppings.

Ladle into bowls and top with eggs, toasted garlic, and spring onions. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve with a side of patis and calamansi.

Simple Ways to Level Up Your Arroz Caldo Ingredients

An assortment of side dishes that you can pair with savory porridge, including sauteed greens, kimchi, pickled cucumbers, and candied anchovies

Use leftover rotisserie chicken.

Try using lechon manok instead of fresh chicken cuts. The brined and marinated chicken meat will make your dish extra flavorful. Plus, it saves you time on the stove while making good use of leftovers.

Add a dash of liquid seasoning.

Is your chicken arroz caldo too mild for your tastes? Mix in some Knorr Liquid Seasoning to make it more aromatic, umami-packed, and crave-worthy.

Enjoy with flavorful side dishes.

Take inspiration from Taiwanese-style congee by also serving a range of sides. Singapore’s Michelin Guide ranks pickled cucumber and salted duck egg among the best options for avid congee consumers. Try candied dilis for a sweet and savory bite if you want something closer to home.

Spice it up with chili crisp.

If you love a little spice in your bowl, nothing beats chili crisp. The Chinese condiment has gone viral thanks to its addictive blend of spicy, salty, crunchy, and funky components. Alternatively, homemade garlic chili oil hits the spot for spice-seekers, too.

Top with crispy chicken skin.

Last and certainly the most indulgent: top your piping hot bowl with fried chicken skin. This classic street snack makes a superior stand-in for chicharon, the usual crispy topping for lugaw.

Now you know how to cook arroz caldo with oats and the health benefits of this versatile whole grain. Simple, right? Next time your family craves a big bowl of arroz caldo, surprise them with this nutritious yet delicious take. Comfort guaranteed!

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