It is traditionally made by boiling glutinous rice (Tagalog: malagkit; Visayan: pilit) or regular white rice if boiled with excess water. The basic version only contains salt or sugar, garlic, and ginger. Some versions have chicken, fish, pork, or beef broth. It is typically prepared for breakfast or during cold and rainy weather and regarded as a comforting and easy-to-digest food. It is also served to very young children and to the elderly, sick, or bedridden people. Either than satisfying hunger, it can make a sick person sweat to alleviate pain and discomfort. That is why it is dubbed as food cooked with love.
Lugaw is usually eaten hot or warm as it tends to solidify if left to cool. It can be reheated by adding a little bit of water. Sweeter versions can be eaten cold or partly frozen.
Lugaw is also a cultural symbol. According to the National Quincentennial Committee (NQC), lugaw was one of the earliest documented food of Filipino ancestors. According to the 1613 Vocabulario de la Lengua Tagala by Fr. Pedro de San Buenaventura, lugaw is defined as “rice mixed with milk or water or of both (porridge).”
Lugaw is essential
“Lugaw is essential” trended online after a viral video of a food delivery rider was prohibited by a barangay official from delivering lugaw to a customer in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan. The official argued that lugaw was not essential because people can live without eating it.
On 1 April 2021, Malacañang clarified that lugaw or any food is an essential good and should be delivered unhampered during the period of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the NCR Plus bubble, which included Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite.
- 1 cup long grain white rice
- 4 to 5 cups water
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 cup rousong pork floss
- Pour water in a cooking pot and bring it to a boil.
- Put in the rice and cook for 30 minutes until the texture becomes thick. Stir it once in a while.
- Add salt and stir. Cook for two more minutes.
- Transfer to a serving bowl and add a tablespoon of rousing.
- Serve hot.
Most savory versions of lugaw are influenced by Chinese-style congee. Over the centuries, the recipe diverged to use Filipino ingredients to suit the local tastes. Filipino savory lugaw, which are typically thicker than other Asian congees because of the use of glutinous rice, are traditionally served with calamansi, soy sauce (toyo), or fish sauce (patis). These can also be paired with meat or seafood dishes. The most common is tokwa’t baboy (cubed tofu and pork).
- Arroz caldo: lugaw with ginger and toasted garlic, scallions, black pepper, and hard-boiled egg. Safflower (kasubha) is typically added to the dish which turns it to yellow.
- Goto: lugaw made with goto (tripe) and ginger and garnished with garlic, scallions, and black pepper.
- Binignit/Ginataan/Tabirak/Alpahor/Ginettaán/Ginat-ang lugaw/Kamlo.: lugaw made with coconut milk (gata) and slices of fruit, jelly desserts (sago, kaong, tapioca pearls, etc.), and root crops (sweet potato, taro, and ube).
- Champorado: lugaw with home-made chocolate and milk. It can be paired with dried fish (tuyo).
- Ginataang mais: lugaw made with coconut milk and sweet corn.
- Ginataang munggo: lugaw with toasted mung beans, sugar, coconut milk, and corn.
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