28 The NaTioNal CuliNary review • JaNuary 2018
in the Kitchen slow-cooked
As Filipino cuisine continues to enjoy some industry limelight of late, chefs are experimenting
with this classic dish, a variation of rice congee introduced to Spanish colonists by Chinese traders
as far back as the 1500s, according to Rommel Mendoza, corporate executive chef at Thompson
Hospitality, Reston, Virginia.
“My mother made arroz caldo or lugaw at special occasions and always as our Midnight Mass
celebration meal on Christmas Eve,” Mendoza says. This “chicken-stew-like” version enjoyed in the
northern provinces of the Philippines often uses chicken bones and traces of chicken as the main add-in.
Lugaw, in general, Mendoza explains, is a little simpler, often simply stewed rice with mainly
vegetables and herbs such as ginger, scallions, fried garlic, calamansi, egg and, in some cases,
a little tofu, pork rinds or Chinese sausage added in. In the southern provinces, you’ll often see
prawns and olive oil added to the mix, he says. Goto, typically enjoyed as a street food, features
tripe as the main add-in. Instead of jasmine rice, Mendoza prefers using short-grain rice for a
creamier, thicker texture, but still al dente enough for a chewy—not gummy—bite.
Executive chef Douglas Stringer at The American Club’s The Immigrant Restaurant in Kohler,
Wisconsin, has also experimented with a savory oatmeal of sorts as the base for his roasted duck
breast dish. Tired of the usual polenta or risotto base, he sought to swap more commonly used
cornmeal and Arborio rice for steel-cut oats to create a nuttier, more unique texture that would
complement the duck, fois gras mousse and Brussels sprouts.
To avoid cooking the oats to death, Stringer uses a risotto method, carefully adding duck stock
a little at a time while constantly stirring to maintain some texture but introduce more moisture.
The oat risotto is then mixed with confit duck leg and plated with the bacon-fat-sauteed Brussels
sprouts, rich fois gras mousse, fig and duck stock reduction, and king trumpet mushrooms braised
in apple cider vinegar for a little acid.
“I originally thought to use farro, but it didn’t lend the same textural components that risotto
does, so the steel-cut oats were a great alternative,” he says.
When it comes to porridge, the opportunities for grains, add-ins, aromatics and toppings are
endless. The only limit is your imagination.
aBove Left: fresh mango oatmeal.
aBove right: roast duck breast
with savory steel-cut oats risotto. AMELIA LEVIN IS A CHICAGO-BASED FOOD WRITER, COOKBOOK AU THOR AND CER TIFIED CHEF.