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Lugaw at Buro (Rice Porridge with Ferments)

Close up of rice porridge with fermented toppings

Lugaw remains one of the easiest ways to integrate fermented vegetables into a dish. The mild savoriness of the rice porridge is the perfect canvas for the sourness of the buro, taking the place of calamansi. The soft creaminess of the malakgkit is a great contrast to the crunchy vegetables.

Go-to comfort food

As I write this, the rain has been beating on the roof for an hour now, and there’s nothing like hunching over a steaming bowl of lugaw during the monsoon season. 

Also known in the Visayas as pospas, lugaw is a preferred breakfast food for many because it is filling but light on the stomach, and warm and soothing on cool early mornings. It is easily digestible, which makes it a go-to food for the sick or convalescent. 

Lugaw can also be served any time of the day, and depending on the portion size and small plates served with it, can either be one’s main dish or merienda. Toppings and condiments usually include soy sauce, fried garlic, spring onions, calamansi, and kasubha. 

Toppings and condiments include (clockwise from top left) chili oil, burong mustasa, pickled red radish, fried garlic, burong kamias, green onions, fried tofu, and shiitake mushrooms

Lugaw is also one of the most economical dishes to make, with a small amount of rice multiplying in volume to serve many. The usual ratio of rice to water is 1 to 5 or 1 to 7. You can adjust this  depending on the lugaw consistency you enjoy. Some like their lugaw loose and almost like soup, while others tend to prefer it thick, with the rice still retaining its shape, which is how I like it.  

Making vegan lugaw

While it may look vegan, lugaw in the Philippines is usually not. The broth is typically made of animal-based stock. The more popular versions of the lugaw served in carinderias include arroz caldo (chicken), bola-bola (fish balls or meat balls), goto (tripe), tokwa’t baboy (tofu and pork), and litid (ligaments).

Making vegan rice porridge is easy. Just combine malagkit rice with a significant amount of water to achieve your desired consistency and some salt. This recipe adds a little more to make a flavorful lugaw without using MSG-laden bouillon cubes or expensive boxed veggie broths. It also does not require a lot of time needed to build flavor from sautéing the aromatics. 

Yes, I am talking about using powdered aromatics. Is it cheating? I prefer to call it a shortcut. In the same way that ferments are a shortcut to flavor.   

The best part is that it takes just half an hour, even less, to make this lugaw, as you prepare your toppings while the porridge cooks.

Ingredients

Toppings

Directions

1. Rinse malagkit thrice and transfer to a pot. Add 6 cups of water. Turn on heat to medium-low. Stir occasionally to make sure the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pot.

2. In a separate bowl, mix garlic, ginger, and onion powders and the remaining 1 cup of water until there are no more clumps. 

3. Transfer to the pot along with the salt. Mix well. 

4. Partially cover with a lid and let porridge cook for 20 to 30 minutes. Check every few minutes to make sure the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pot. The porridge is ready when it is thick and the rice is soft. 

5. Serve hot with your chopped ferments and preferred condiments. 

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