Asian style porridge (also known as chao, jook, congee) is a rice based meal and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s one of those dishes that hits the spot when your sick…and in this case I made it for Derrick who was sick last week. It’s like the Asian version of chicken soup. It’s light, easy to eat, served warm and so comforting and satisfying on a cold day or when you’re feeling under the weather. This is a Vietnamese style chicken porridge (chao ga) recipe that is easy to make. The porridge is infused with aromatic ginger and served with a mixture of shredded chicken, thinly sliced onions, coarsely chopped mint and Vietnamese dipping sauce (fish sauce/nuoc mam). It’s one of our favorite dishes during the fall and winter months and we usually make a large pot to enjoy for a few meals.
Chicken Porridge (Chao Ga)
Cooking time: ~2 hours Serves: 8
4 ½ – 5 lbs whole chicken
salt & black pepper
2 inch knob of ginger, peeled and julienned
3 C long grain rice, rinsed
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 quart of chicken stock
1 Tbs fish sauce
Green onions, thinly sliced (optional)
Place whole chicken into a large pot, season chicken with salt and black pepper (just lightly sprinkle salt and black pepper on the outside of the chicken)
Fill pot with enough water to cover the chicken completely (about 10-12 cups of water) The chicken needs to be completed submerged and covered by at least 1 inch of water over the top of it.
Bring chicken to a boil and then reduce heat to medium high, place a lid slightly on the pot (cracked) and simmer for about 35 to 45 minutes or until chicken is done. Skim froth from the pot and discard as chicken is cooking.
Carefully remove chicken, set aside and let cool.
Add rice to pot with the remaining broth from boiled chicken. Add chicken stock, ginger, salt and black pepper to pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium to medium high and let simmer for about 45 minutes. Stir often to prevent burning. Porridge will thicken as cooked. Add fish sauce and continue cooking until you get the consistency that you wish. (This all depends on taste….some people prefer a soupier consistency while others like a thicker consistency) Season to taste with salt, pepper or fish sauce if needed. As the porridge sits it will thicken. You can add more water or chicken broth to thin it out.
Serve with chicken salad (below), top with green onions and serve it with the dipping sauce on the side.
2 large onions, cut in half and then thinly sliced
4 Tbs vinegar
3 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 bunch of mint, about 1 C lightly packed, coarsely chopped
Using a mandoline, thinly slice the onions and place in a large bowl.
Once boiled chicken is cool enough to handle, shred the chicken into medium size pieces. You can leave or remove the skin. Add to the onions.
Add vinegar, salt and black pepper to onion and chicken and combine. Season with more vinegar, salt or black pepper according to taste.
Add mint and combine.
Dipping Sauce (Fish Sauce / Nuoc Mam)
½ C water
2 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs vinegar
Juice of 1 lime (about 2 Tbs)
1 – 2 chilis, depending on heat, finely minced
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
3 Tbs of fish sauce, add more if you want a bolder fish sauce taste
Whisk all ingredients together and taste. Adjust based on your taste. These are the basic ingredients for fish sauce but the amounts of each ingredients varies from home to home depending if you like extra heat or garlic or maybe even a sweeter or more intense lime flavor. Feel free to adjust the flavors to suit your palate.