Breakfast of Champorado-ions

On my last visit to Filipino restaurant/grocery store Wok n Roll (which is, itself, inside another grocery store -- the H-E-B at Bellaire and Highway 6), I picked up a few items to take home. One of those, a bright red pouch of champorado, has been languishing in my pantry ever since.

Champorado, according to my friend Dr. Ricky, is a popular porridge-like breakfast cereal in his native Philippines. Made by mixing glutinous rice with sugar and cocoa powder, it's basically the Filipino equivalent of Count Chocula...sans all the creepy preservatives and artificial colors and flavors, of course.

Filipino chocolate is different in taste to what Americans are accustomed to, being darker and more bitter than our standard milk chocolate. And you can see for yourself in this fascinating blog post how traditional Filipino chocolate is made. The little balls shown at the end of the post are mixed into a big pot of boiled rice to make champorado, which is a treat for kids and adults alike.

I pulled that mostly ignored pouch of champorado out of my pantry this morning, deciding it would be a great breakfast treat with a cup of coffee. The pouch was a bit dusty by now, but I cleaned it off and popped it in the microwave for 45 seconds. The smell when I took it out was pleasant, a faint hint of cocoa and nothing else.

I think that I would have enjoyed my bowl of champorado more had it not come from that pouch, however, as it was mostly quite bland despite its dark, rich color. It tasted like a bowl of congee into which someone had mixed some very weak cocoa powder. The congee texture is to be expected -- rice porridge in all its many forms is popular throughout Asia -- but the cocoa flavor disappointed.

That said, I'm interested in trying freshly made champorado at Filipiniana, which serves it up alongside other Filipino delicacies like dinuguan. I see another field trip to Chinatown on my horizon, this time for breakfast.

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Katharine Shilcutt