Lugaw, also known porridge, congee and arroz caldo, has been with the family for several years. In fact, it has been here since my grandparents (and great great grandparents, I believe) existed. I have eaten several variations of lugaw since I was a kid, mostly when I became ill or my brother and sisters were.
Lugaw is actually boiled rice, a delicacy among Asians. I consider them a comfort food since it is very easy to cook and requires no elaborate trimmings. A lugaw is cooked slowly to have that signature thickness, even if it is soft to the palate when eaten. Sometimes spices and strips of meat or fish or other flavors, are added to make it interesting. That is why some of us associate lugaw with someone who is sick or very old to eat ordinary food. We are also required to eat lugaw during the Lenten season.
Craving for lugaw, I attacked the kitchen to make my own version.
I put a handful of red rice in a pot and let it boil for about an hour, adding little water, about half a glass, every 15 minutes or so and slowly stir them every now and then so it won't stick to the bottom of the pot. Then I add in some butter-fried garlic and onions and let it simmer. After 30 minutes, I put in a can of Century tuna flakes and a combination of salt and pepper, sambal (chili paste) and some dried chili powder. (Shhhh- my latest food craving is anything that is hot and spicy.)
Over slow fire, I stir my porridge from time to time, smelling its gorgeous flavors. When the lugaw becomes consistent, I add about 3 tablespoons of instant oatmeal to give it more texture. There.
My lugaw is ready in no time and become my healthy brunch.