Sunday, December 2, 2007

Vietnamese Chicken Congee (Chao Ga)

I was in the mood to cook something that reminds me of home. This soup is probably cooked at every single one of our family gatherings or when someone in the family is sick. I grew up looking forward to catching a cold just so I could have this chicken congee. My family made nearly everything from scratch, so I never tasted canned chicken broth until I was living on my own. My sister would go to the farm to buy live chickens, and that entire day, every meal would revolve around chicken since no part of the animal went to waste. I never did any cooking while living at home because my job was usually to wash and chop the herbs. Just the fragrance alone of the three herbs pictured here transports me home immediately. This recipe is my simple adaptation of this chicken congee from Hue, Vietnam.

Thai basil (rau que), spearmint (rau hung) & Vietnamese coriander (rau ram).

  • 5 chicken thighs, bone in & with skin
  • 1 two-inch knob fresh ginger, peeled & halved lengthwise
  • 5 whole cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 onion, peeled & quartered
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup jasmine rice, rinsed & drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 shallots, diced
  • 1 tbsp fresh, minced ginger
  • 4 stalks scallion, thinly sliced (white for soup, green for garnish)
  • 2 tbsp Vietnamese fish sauce
  • fine sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • handful fresh Vietnamese coriander leaves, chopped
  • handful fresh Thai basil leaves, chopped
  • handful fresh spearmint leaves, chopped
  • lime wedges (optional)
To make stock, put first set of ingredients into a 6-qt stock pot and fill up with cold water. Bring to a boil and immediately lower heat to let stock gently simmer. Allow chicken to poach for about 25 minutes or until cooked through. Remove chicken and allow to cool. Carefully take meat off the bones and try to keep the meat in large pieces. Return skins and bones to stock pot to continue simmering. The chicken meat can then be shredded into long, thin strips for use in congee or salad. Continue to add hot water to stock pot to keep ingredients submerged for the remainder of cooking time. I like to simmer my stock for at least 2 hours, but ideally it should simmer for 6 hours or longer. Once done, pour stock through a fine mesh strainer into another stock pot. Discard the solids.
Rinse and drain rice. Heat up a skillet with olive oil, shallot, ginger, garlic and rice and toss until rice is fragrant and fully coated with oil. Transfer rice to pot of simmering stock. Cook for another 30 minutes or until rice is tender. Add white part of scallions, fish sauce and salt & pepper. Serve in soup bowl, topped with shredded chicken and chopped herbs. You can squeeze a bit of fresh lime juice for a burst of freshness. Mix all ingredients up before eating in order to savor all the wonderful flavors.


SteamyKitchen said...

sounds like the perfect comfort food

Anonymous said...

it sounds delishhhhhh. thanks I'm gonna try it out right now.

Auntie Kim said...

I have used your recipe twice now and its delicioius. I just started looking around the rest of your blog and can't wait to try your other recipes. I live in Boston but have never gone to Dong Khanh, that will be our next stop. Have you heard of Bubilicious in Newton, two sisters own it and they make some fabulous vietnamese soups on Tue and Fri. Cheers!

Auntie Kim said...

Sorry the restaurant is Bobalicious
308 Watertown St, Newton, MA

Tia said...

Thanks, Auntie Kim! I'm glad you enjoyed the chicken soup. Bobalicious looks great--will have to make my way out there! Cheers ;)

lnnguyen05 said...

love this receipe. but sometimes i dont have time to make the stock so i combinre ur receipe with the one from i just caught the cold and i was trying to access it but im denied? anyone know how to invite me? thnaks! gotta love home made viet food!

Diem said...

Just found your blog when googling chao ga recipes. I'm making it right now. The entire clan is under the weather. Your recipes look great.

AmerViet said...

I googled "chao ga recipe" and yours was the only one that came up with a decent amount of responses which made me feel more comfortable about trying your recipe.

I just finished making it however I added some things and took away some things, but your recipe made for a very solid foundation for my batch.
This was the first time I boiled a whole chicken- your instructions helped me have an idea of how long I should cook it for since it wasn't a large chicken. It was a PERFECTLY boiled chicken, the meat was perfect. I didn't use any onions or shallots and might've used more ginger than you suggested.

I also added chicken broth to my chicken stock and chicken boullion cubes. I can't help it- I love Vietnamese food because it's flavorful and I like the taste to be strong/savory. (my chicken was too small for the big batch I made)

I couldn't have complete this dish properly if it wasn't for your incredible instructions which I did my best to follow. Thank you soo much for sharing. I've been dying to learn how to cook more of my native food, and your list of recipes seem like they'll help me with my goal.

By the way, there's this specific dipping sauce for the chicken of Chao Ga- you dip the chicken into the sauce while you eat your soup and it's incredible- you can also use this recipe for dipping eggrolls, but just cancel the ginger. For anyone who cares for the recipe, here is one of the best "Nuoc Mam" recipes ever.

Nuoc Mam
1 cup fish sauce(typically sold in asian markets by the bottle)
1 cup sugar
2-3 cups water
1 cup minced ginger
1-3 cloves minces garlic (you can never add too much)
1 lemon
Optional: (to add some kick/bite of spicyness add 1-2 Tbsp. of Huey Fong Chili Garlic Sauce- it's not too spicy, but if you like it really spicy, keep adding more and taste as you go)

In a small pot/saucepan, put in the fish sauce and sugar then bring the mixture to a boil. Keep stirring as it reaches boiling point. Once the mixture comes to a boil, remove the pot/pan from the stove immediately then transfer the mixture into a container. Add water, ginger, lemon juice, garlic, and optional chili garlic sauce. Stir well.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! :)

AmerViet said...

CORRECTION: All the "1 cup" ingredients were suppose to be
1/2 cup.

Sorry. And enjoy:)

Anonymous said...

This was a great recipe. The only thing I'd change is to cook it without the shallots. Most of the Vietnamese cooking I've grown up with did not include shallots.

Nobuta Power chun yuu said...

If you're not cooking it with the shallots, you're really missing out. It makes the dish so much more fragrant.

lallalori said...

Started on your Flickr stream and found my way here (I know, sooooo late to the game).

I LOVE this. LOVE this. My friend never has time to show me how to make it. I'm going to try your recipe. Thankyouthankyouthankyou. (Have I mentioned I LOVE this?).

guesshoo52 said...

Hi Tia--
I am also in Boston and was trying to make this dish. Is there a way to make chao without having to stir-fry the rice and then putting it into the broth? Can't you cook the rice in the same broth and just let it simmer and the rice will cook itself?

guesshoo52 said...

Hey Tia--

I'm also in Boston and was in the mood for something to remind me of home. I was wondering, do you have to cook/stir-fry the rice before putting it with the stock? I can remember my mom just putting the jasmine rice right into the broth and letting it simmer together until the chao was ready. Have you tried that? Would love your input.

Tia said...

Hi guesshoo52 - I like to fry the rice in oil and aromatics to give the the soup a fuller, nuttier flavor. :)

st3phanini said...

Thank you for this recipe! I made it and it was just like moms thank you!

Catherine said...

Just used this recipe the other day and I love it. It's just like the one my parents and grandparents make. The only thing I did differently was add more rice (with the same amount of broth). Which was only a minor mistake as the water absorbed most of it, so there wasn't that much liquid, Still tastes great though. So just reminder to anyone else, rice absorbs a lot of water!

Unknown said...

Hi, how many servings does this recipe make? I'm having a housewarming party and would like to make chao ga for my guests. I'd like to make sure there is plenty for everyone who is coming. :) Thanks in advance for your answer.

John-Paul Mai said...

This is the stuff my mum makes when you're sick. It really hits the spot and gives your body the go-go juice. My sister made it for me yesterday because I was sick and it still does the trick. Awesome taste and easy to down.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the recipe. Made it for the first time last night and my family loved it! By special request from my 6 year old son, I'm making it again tonight since we finished every drop last night. :) Again, thank you for the recipe.

Anonymous said...

This is even more delicious than my mum's! Thanks for posting the vietnamese name as well as the English name. Just a note, your photos on this post aren't loading up for me on my iPad? Thanks for posting x

SurreyRealtor said...

I've been making this for a couple years now and even my parents said this was authentic! I will be making this tonight along with a Vietnamese Lotus salad for my friends. Perfect comfort food for grey Seattle days like today :)

Cathy said...

Love this recipe. I work in a hospital and the Filipino nurses bring a Filipino version of this to our potlucks. I've made this recipe many times and varied it quite a bit especially since I can't always get the Vietnamese Coriander or the Thai basil. No matter -- it always tastes WONDERFUL.
I've even made a low carb no rice version (sacrilege I know) using "riced" and mashed cauliflower to approximate the texture and thickness. It's different but still delicious. Thank you so much for posting this recipe.