Jose Rizal, our national hero, is surrounded by a large body of stories. But more than the tales about his bravery and about his writings, it was the stories about his childhood, when he was merely young Pepe, that I liked to hear when I was a kid. About how he wrote his first Nationalistic poem when he was 8. About how his mother told him the story of the moth who got too close to the flame. And about how he invented Champorado (chocolate porridge).
Legend has it that young Pepe, in an effort to turn his day-old rice into something more delectable, poured a cup of tsokolate eh (Spanish hot chocolate) on it. Of course, the story is much debatable. Day-old rice is loose and a bit dry and tsokolate eh, no matter how thick it’s prepared, just won’t create a porridge-like consistency.
Still, it’s a nice story, and when posed with the Lasang Pinoy 21: Cooking for Heroes challenge, I figured that a freshly cooked bowl of Champorado would be an interesting dish to serve Dr. Rizal. Alongside a few pieces of tuyo (dried fish) of course.
A chocolate porridge made with malagkit (sticky glutinous rice), Champorado is very filling, sweet and chocolatey. Topped with the requisite evaporated / condensed / fresh milk, it becomes even more delicious as the milk suffuses the porridge and gives it a characteristic creaminess. Because it’s usually served hot to warm, it’s the perfect dish to sit down to on cold, rainy days. In fact, on such days, it’s not unusual to hear people sigh, “I want to eat champorado.”
Champorado can be made in a variety of ways. You can prepare it with Cocoa Powder, Chocolate Baking Bars, and Tablea, dry cocoa tablets that’s used to prepare Filipino Hot Chocolate. While these ingredients produce champorado that varies in the degree of chocolatiness, it’s all a matter of personal preference. These days, champorado can be prepared from instant mixes that require nothing but the addition of water. They’re perfect for a quick champorado craving fix. One instant mix brand that I really like is Antonio Pueo’s Double Chocolate Champorado—its quality is quite comparable to champorado made from scratch. But still, Champorado is easy enough to make from scratch, and can be modified more easily to suit your personal preferences.
Champorado v. 1 November 2007
1 cup glutinous rice (sticky rice)
3 cups water
1/4 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
1/2 cup sugar
a pinch of salt
1. Wash the glutinous rice in water around 3 times or so, until the water runs noticeably clearer.
2. Put the rice and water in a medium saucepan then bring to boil, occasionally stirring to prevent it from burning.
3. Once it boils, stir continuously and make sure to lower the heat to a minimum.
4. In a small bowl, mix the cocoa powder, sugar and salt. Add a small amount of water, just enough to turn the dry ingredients into a thick paste.
5. Pour the paste mixture into the pot, mixing until well blended.
6. Continue cooking the champorado until the rice is clear (no white centers), soft and fluffy.
7. Serve with evaporated, condensed or fresh milk. It’s all a matter of preference, I like evaporated milk best but condensed is also good, just make sure to take into consideration that condensed milk is sweet on its own.
Note:This particular recipe is chocolatey yet not too sweet. In case it’s too bland for you, don’t hesitate to add sugar. Adding water is also a good idea if you prefer thinner champorado. This one thickens quite a bit, which is perfect for me because I like drowning everything in milk.