By Carlos Manuel Eusoya

It’s the month of August and the rainy days have arrived. The constant downpours may bring a bleak mood, but don't fret! A taste of these home-cooked classics may just be enough to lift up your spirits.

1. Arroz Caldo

PHOTO: Simple Comfort Food

If you’ve had a fever before, your parents may have already prepared you this warm and comforting porridge. Many Filipinos believe that this rice gruel is a therapeutic dish for the sick! This hearty dish is the Filipino variant of the Asian rice congee. With an aromatic bouillon, a smooth and creamy texture, and appetizing condiments, we can guarantee that arroz caldo can keep you warm in the cold weather.

To cook arroz caldo, you’ll need trimmed chicken, onions, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, bouillon cubes, salt, and pepper. You may also add a boiled egg, green onions, and toasted garlic for toppings.

First, cook the onions, ginger, and garlic on medium heat. Next, add the trimmed chicken and cook until the ingredients are aromatic. Afterwards, add the rice and stir constantly. Once the rice is light brown, add water and boil the dish. Add the bouillon cubes and stir to dissolve. Lower the heat until you achieve the desired texture. Season the dish with salt and pepper. Lastly, add your chosen toppings to the broth.

2. La Paz Batchoy

PHOTO: Ang Sarap

This type of batchoy has its origins in the Iloilo province, particularly in the district of La Paz. Its distinct Ilonggo style differentiates it from Northern Luzon’s batchoy tagalog. The latter has pork blood, pork innards, and chili leaves. Meanwhile, La Paz batchoy is cooked using crushed garlic, shrimp paste, beef stock, and chicharon. The meaty essence is still preserved in both versions.

If you wish to cook La Paz batchoy, start by boiling beef stock and broth ingredients in a pot. Next, add pork and chicken, and simmer for 25 minutes. Drain the pork and chicken and set them aside. Continue simmering the broth in low heat and season with salt to taste. Then, slice the pork and chicken into thin strips. Place noodles in a bowl and pour the broth over the noodles. Top the noodles with pork, chicken, chicharon, and garlic.

3. Champorado

PHOTO: Panlasang Pinoy

Hearty and meaty foods are perfect for the stormy season, but what if you’re yearning for something warm and sweet? Why not try champorado?

The origins of this chocolate-rich dish can be traced back to the Spanish galleon trade! Champorado is adapted from Mexican traders. Over time, the Filipino taste was imbued in the flavor of the champorado.

It’s easy to prepare champorado. Mix coconut milk and sweet rice in a pot. Boil them for 10 minutes. Then, add cocoa powder, salt, and sugar. Stir until the rice is tender. Add thick coconut milk to the mixture, and voila! You’ve cooked a saccharine snack.

4. Sopas

PHOTO: Pinoy Food Delight

Derived from the word sopa (Spanish word for soup), this warm dish is another comfort food during the rainy weather. It’s also served when someone catches a cold. What’s the secret ingredient? Elbow macaroni!

Sopas is a bit trickier to prepare than the other dishes mentioned here. It takes patience to ensure that the texture is creamy and the soup is rich.

You need to have chicken stock for this dish. If this ingredient is not available in your kitchen, you can boil a whole chicken and shred it to bite-sized pieces. Next, add butter on a separate pan. Add also sauteed garlic and onions. Next, add the shredded chicken, fish sauce, and macaroni. Cook this chicken mix for two minutes before adding the Knorr chicken cube. Boil and simmer the dish. Afterwards, add the evaporated milk and simmer for a few more minutes. Lastly, season the sopas with salt and pepper before serving.

5. Chicken Sotanghon

PHOTO: Pinoy Cooking Recipes

Chicken sotanghon is a Chinese-influenced dish. Most ingredients used to cook this dish came from the Far East. However, the chicken sotanghon still has Filipino flavors inculcated in it. It can also warm up our bodies from the current chilly temperatures.

Cooking chicken sotanghon requires mushrooms and scallions for a richer taste, but you may also opt not to include these. Start by sauteing onions and garlic. Add tomatoes and saute for two minutes. Add mushrooms, chicken, and fish sauce, and simmer for a few minutes. Next, add the chicken stock. When the dish has boiled, add the sotanghon noodles into the soup. Simmer until the noodles are tender and the soup is warm.

BONUS: Toasted Pandesal with Coffee

PHOTO: Pinoy Exchange

If you don’t have the fresh ingredients or the spare time, try this bonus snack instead. Just toast the Filipino-favorite pandesal and brew a cup of coffee, and you’ll still have a pick-me-up food for the rainy season.

Truly, Filipinos have several dishes to combat the cold temperatures of the rainy season. From the hearty Arroz Caldo to the saccharine Champorado, the variety of Phililippine comfort foods show the diverse flavors in the cuisine of the country. It also highlights how Filipinos have a fitting dish for every occasion.

Sources: Kawaling Pinoy, Pinoy Recipes, All Recipes, Filipino Food Recipes