Cháo Gà – Chicken Congee

Vietnamese food

When I was little I always correlate chao with being sick.  Supposedly you are not suppose to eat anything fatty or overly seasoned because it might irritate your stomach while your sick.  Therefore when I was sick my mom makes chao with very little seasoning and no meats, it totally scarred my taste buds.  I don’t think I ever liked eating chao until I reach my 20s when I finally learn how to cook it myself.  Chao doesn’t have to be bland, remember you control the seasoning and flavors when you cook.  I will show you a few tricks that will give your chao wonderful flavors and aromas!

Everybody likes chao a certain way!  Some people like it very watery and the rice grain still intact while others like the rice grain to be cooked down into a thick paste like consistency.  I love my chao to be cooked down completely, in which you can’t even see any sign of the rice grain or liquid, as if the rice and the broth has become one.  The best way to achieve this is to avoid washing your rice, rice is covered in starch which will naturally thicken your broth.  Add unwashed rice straight to the broth.  Be patience and let your rice grain cook down until it disintegrate into the broth.

I like my chao to be well seasoned and aromatic from ginger, garlic, and shallot.  And like most soups, the best way to bring out the flavors from your roots is to roast them before ending them to the broth.  The best way to season chao is with just salt, that will give your chao enough taste without overpowering like fish sauce will.  
Ingredients: 
1 cornish hen or 1/2 whole chicken or 5 drumsticks 
4 quarts of water 
1 cup of rice 
2 knob of giner
2 shallots
3 garlic 
3/4 tablespoon of salt
1/2 tablespoon of sugar
1/2 tablespoon of mushroom seasoning
chopped green onions/cilantro/onions mixture 
ground black pepper
fried shallots
fresh chili 
1.  Par boil the chickens and drain the dirty water.  Rinse chicken clean with cool water.
2.  Add clean chicken to pot cook for 30 minutes, remove and let cooled down.
3.  Roast your roots either in the oven or in  pan on the stovetop.

4.  Add the rice to the broth along with the roasted garlic,shallots, and ginger.   Season with 3/4 tbl salt, 1/2 tbl sugar, 1/2 tbl mushroom seasoning. 
5.  Let rice cook down on medium heat.  It will be faster if you cover with lid.  Every now and then scrape the bottom of the pot to ensure rice isn’t sticking to the bottom.
6.  Once chicken has cooled, remove bones and shred into smaller pieces.  
7.  Taste your chao, add additional seasoning if needed  
8.  Once the rice has cooked down to your liking, add the chicken to the chao.

8.  Your chao is done!  Enjoy with garnishes to your liking and ground black pepper.  f

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