Chao Ga – Chicken Congee

Chao Ga 1

This week’s Mom’s 52 recipe is perfect for cold days.  It’s also a wonderful dish to make when a loved one is feeling under the weather.  When I was young, any time I had a cold or an upset stomach, Mom’s Chao Ga – Chicken Congee always made me feel better.

Chao Ga is a flavorful Vietnamese porridge.  The term “porridge” does not usually evoke cravings, but Chao Ga is delicious, with its balance of chicken flavor and soothing ginger.  If you do not have a whole chicken available, leg quarters are a good substitute.

This Mom’s 52 recipe is a special one, as Mom often pairs Chao Ga with another dish – Goi Ga, or Vietnamese Chicken Salad.  As a result, part of the directions below will apply to next week’s Mom’s 52 recipe:  Goi Ga.  If you choose not to make Goi Ga, you can use the leftover cooked chicken below for any other recipe you wish.  Consider this recipe part 1 of a two part series.

Chao Ga – Chicken Congee

INGREDIENTS – to serve 4-6:

  • 1 whole young chicken, inners removed and cut into parts; OR 5 leg quarters.  Optional: peel & discard skin of chicken to reduce fat.
  • 1 gallon of water
  • 1 C. uncooked jasmine rice
  • 1 C. uncooked sweet rice
  • 2 tsp. of salt
  • 3.5 Tbsp. of nuoc mam, aka fish sauce
  • 1 tsp. of sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. of ginger, finely julienned; OR grated for a more subtle ginger flavor
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 3 stalks of green onion, chopped
  • fresh cilantro and rau ram herbs, chopped, for garnish
  • pepper, for garnish
In addition to Jasmine rice, sweet rice is also used in this Chao Ga recipe, to better thicken the dish.
In addition to Jasmine rice, sweet rice is also used in this Chao Ga recipe, to better thicken the dish.

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STEP 1:  BLANCH THE CHICKEN

It’s tempting to try to cut out this step, but Mom says it’s important to do this to yield clear chicken stock for your Chao Ga.  This step “cleans” the chicken.

  1. Fill a large stockpot halfway with water, and turn on high heat.
  2. Once the water boils, gently add the chicken pieces and stir for 10 seconds.
  3. Drain by carefully pouring the pot contents into a colander over the sink.
  4. Rinse the pot well, as it will be used in Step 2 below.
  5. Rinse the drained meat well to rinse off the scum, and drain again.
Whole chicken cut into pieces and blanched for Chao Ga.  An alternative is to use leg quarters.
Whole chicken cut into pieces and blanched for Chao Ga. An alternative is to use leg quarters.

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STEP 2:  MAKE THE CHAO GA PORRIDGE

  1. Using the same stockpot used in Step 1 above, boil a gallon of water on high heat.
  2. Once the water boils, gently add the blanched chicken, 1 C. of uncooked jasmine rice, 1 C. of uncooked sweet rice, 2 tsp. of salt, 3.5 Tbsp. of nuoc mam, and 1 tsp. of sugar.  Stir gently, making sure to reach the bottom to keep the rice from sticking and burning.
  3. In a separate saucepan, heat 2 Tbsp. of EVOO on high heat.  Add the shallots and ginger, and stir fry until light brown to release their fragrant scent.  Add the cooked shallots and ginger to the broth, for flavor and color.  Stir gently again.

    Stir fry the shallots & ginger for a fragrant addition to Chao Ga.  For a more subtle ginger flavor, use freshly grated ginger instead of slices.
    Stir fry the shallots & ginger for a fragrant addition to Chao Ga. For a more subtle ginger flavor, use freshly grated ginger instead of slices.
  4. Cook this mixture for 30 minutes, adjusting the heat to maintain only a low boil and periodically mixing the porridge so the rice does not burn at the bottom.

    Stir the Chao Ga periodically, reaching down to the bottom of the pot, to keep the rice from sticking and burning.
    Stir the Chao Ga periodically, reaching down to the bottom of the pot, to keep the rice from sticking and burning.
  5. Once the 30 minutes is over, test the doneness of the chicken by inserting a chopstick at the top of one leg quarter (where the drumstick and thigh meet).  If the juices run clear, your chicken is done.  Turn off the heat.

    Test the doneness of your chicken for Chao Ga by inserting a chopstick to see if juices run clear.
    Test the doneness of your chicken for Chao Ga by inserting a chopstick to see if juices run clear.
  6. Remove the chicken from the pot, taking care to remove as little of the rice as possible, and set the chicken aside to cool.

    Remove the chicken once cooked, and set aside.  Some will be used for Chao Ga.  The rest can be used for Goi Ga, or any other chicken dish you wish.
    Remove the chicken once cooked, and set aside. Some will be used for Chao Ga. The rest can be used for Goi Ga, or any other chicken dish you wish.
  7. Add the 3 stalks of green onions, chopped, to the pot.
  8. Once the chicken has cooled, shred it into bite size pieces.
  9. Add 2 C. of the shredded, cooked chicken (white meat is best) to the pot of Chao Ga and stir.  The rest of the cooked chicken will be used in next week’s Mom’s 52 recipe for Goi Ga.  You can alternatively use the leftover chicken in any other dish you desire.
  10. Ladle the Chao Ga into individual bowls.  Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and rau ram herb, and sprinkle with pepper.  Enjoy!

Was this Mom’s 52 recipe helpful?  Do you have any questions about this recipe?  Please post your comments below.  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll send your question to Mom! 

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