Cháo (Vietnamese rice porridge)

One of my favorite comfort foods is cháo (pronounced similar to chow) and is also known as congee or rice porridge. My mom would make this when I was sick so I associate it as food for the body & soul. Cháo is essentially soupy rice and can be made with different proteins, most commonly with fish or chicken. It is an easy dish to make and can build up a lot of cooking confidence, especially if you’re learning how to cook Vietnamese cuisine!

I enjoy a thick consistency, but some like it thinner. A recommendation ratio of rice to water is 1:5, but with cooking and resting time the cháo will become thicker. You can always add more water as you go to thin it out. My mom has some extra steps that she swears makes all the difference with flavor so I followed her tips! I have not eaten the Chinese style or other versions before so I cannot speak much about them.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup jasmine rice – I used additional 1/4 cup nếp (glutinous rice) for extra thick cháo
  • 1 tsp mushroom powder (available at the Asian grocery store)
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic
  • ginger (cut in round slices and slivers)
  • 2 tbsp oil (I used vegetable oil)
  • salt to taste
  • 5-6 cups water
  • toppings: cilantro, ginger, black pepper, lime, fried garlic, lime.
  • optional: chicken – 2 legs and 1 breast

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, season 2 whole chicken legs and 1 breast with 1 tsp mushroom powder and 1 tsp fish sauce, set aside
  2. Wash the rice + nếp together three times and strain, set aside
  3. In a non stick pot heat up the oil on medium heat and fry the garlic until golden brown (remove 2/3 of the garlic for topping)
  4. With the remaining fried garlic in the pot, add the strained rice + nếp, and sauté until evenly coated with oil and garlic
  5. Pour in 4 cups water to the pot, 3 slices of ginger, and the seasoned chicken into the pot
  6. Bring everything to a boil
  7. Once boiled, reduce heat to a simmer
  8. Allow to simmer until chicken is cooked through, then add 1 tsp mushroom powder and 2 pinches of salt
  9. Pour in 1-2 cups more water
  10. Keep cooking until you reach the consistency you desire and add more salt to taste
  11. For the topping: chop up cilantro and julienne ginger. Other delicious additions are chili oil and a half boiled egg!

That’s it! Scoop into bowl, add your favorite toppings, and enjoy!

 

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