Cháo- pronounced like “Chow”, rice congee, porridge, is a popular, humble, comfort dish in Vietnam cuisine. The simplest Cháo, Cháo Trắng, is just rice and water. Cháo is easy digested. Try to have Cháo occasionally and watch/feel you tummy lighter but don’t take my words for it.
When Cháo is made with duck, chicken, offal, etc. it will become Cháo Vịt ̣(Duck Rice Soup), Cháo Gà (Chicken Rice Soup), etc. The cooked duck and chicken may be mixed with veggies (Cabbage, young banana tree, banana blossom, lotus stem, daikon, etc.) to make Gỏi (Salad)
Ginger is pungent and spicy hot, I used small amounts and you can add a little more to suit your taste. Left over fresh ginger can be frozen well. Shallot can use instead of yellow onion.
Cooked Duck is chopped into thick slices with bone and skin intact but you can remove and discard skin, bone. Then slice meat thinly but you won’t have much meat because duck is not meaty like chicken.
Make 4-6 servings
One 5-6 lb duck
1½ cup jasmine rice, rinsed with water, drained
12 cups water
2 medium yellow onions,
2 medium garlic clove, smashed
1/2 small cabbage about 1 lbs, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, julienned
6 green onion, washed, thinly sliced
1/2 bunch cilantro, washed and coarsely chopped,
A handful Vietnamese coriander/mint.
One large piece of fresh ginger about big toe’s size (1 oz.)
1 Tbs salt and extra for cleaning duck
2 Tbs fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tbs ground black pepper
1 lime, cut in wedges
1 Tbs white vinegar
3 -5 Tbs crushed peanut-salted or unsalted (optional)
Nước mắm gừng/Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce with Ginger, recipe below
- Put water in a 8-quart stock pot (if use 6-quart pot, save 2 cups water and add to the pot later after removing cooked duck to prevent overfilled). Bring it to a boil.
- Peel onions and cut one into thick slices, save a whole one for later use. Smash garlic.
- Peel ginger and slice 1/3 into 1/8 in. slices, mash them slightly. Thinly slice remaining ginger into paper thin slices. Then dividing thinly sliced ginger into two parts. Finely mince 1 part ginger about 1 tablespoon shy for dipping sauces and julienne another part ginger for garnishing rice soup.
- Removed neck bone, giblet bag, the orange sauce from duck cavity. Take the giblet out, wash and set aside. Discard the bag and orange sauce. Sprinkle salt slightly over the skin and cavity. Gently rubbing salt to the skin and inside cavity. Rinse the duck well, drain. Pick out any tiny feathers with tweezers or a paring knife. You can keep the duck whole or cut into halves lengthwise. Remove the fat, cut it into small pieces and add to the oil when making deep-fry onion later.
- When water reach to a boil. Add duck, neck bone, onion, garlic,1 Tbs salt and sliced ginger. When it back to a boil, add rice, stir. Turn the heat down to medium low, cover and simmer until the duck cooked through about 45 minutes to one hour. Checking by poking a chopstick or knife into the thigh and clear liquid returned. Stir occasionally to prevent rice stuck at bottom. Thinly slice giblet and add into the broth when the duck almost done. Process to step 5,6,7, 8 & 9 while duck cooking.
- Thinly slice cabbage (1/8-1/16 inch) with a chef knife, food processor or veggie peeler. Peel and julienne carrots with a knife or mandolin. Soak them in cold water at least 10 minutes.
- Thinly slice 1 onion by a veggie peeler or knife. Put 1/3 onion in a small bowl, add enough water to cover and 1 Tbs of white vinegar. Deep fry 2/3 onion with oil and duck fat, see instruction here.
- Make dipping sauce with ginger, recipe is below.
- Wash herb, cilantro, and green onion. Thinly slice green onion, coarse chop cilantro, finely mince 2/3 herb.
- Remove the duck when it is cooked through. Put duck in a large bowl or plate. Add remaining water (if any)1 Tbs fish sauce, 1 tsp sugar to the broth, taste and add a little more salt or fish sauce if needed, cover, keep warm if serve right away.
- Drain cabbage and carrot well. Put it into a large bowl.
- When Duck is cool down enough to handle about 5-10 minutes .Cut duck in halves if duck was cooked as a whole. Cut and remove the wings. Separate the wings by the joints in two or three sections. Use a cleave chop the neck into 1 in lenght. Remove the drumsticks at the joint. The drumstick can be chopped into two, three pieces or kept it whole. Remove the back bone. Cut and chop the remaining thigh and breast into thick slices (1/2 in.) from the skin through the bone. Chop the back into large pieces (1.5-2 inches)
- Drain soaked onion. All duck pieces and bones will be tossed with shredded cabbage, carrot, onion and 5 tables of ginger dipping sauce and chopped herb in a large bowl, taste and add more sauce as needed. Add 1-2 Tbs lime juice if you want sourer. At restaurants or street vendors, duck salad is arranged in layers. Shredded veggie is at the bottom, chopped duck on the top. Then dipping ginger sauce will be sprinkled on the top with herb, crushed peanut.
- Skim most of the fat on the top of rice soup, discard or save, refrigerate them, and use for deep fry onion/duck confit next time. Ladle soup to individual bowls, sprinkle some ground black pepper julienned ginger, cilantro, green onion and fried onion. Transfer duck salad to a large platter.Then sprinkle with extra whole herb, fried onion, and peanut ̣(optional)
- Each person will spoon dipping ginger sauce to a small bowl. Then use chopsticks to pick a small amount of duck salad, taste if it is not salty enough, dip into sauce, put it in mouth, follow with 1 or 2 spoons of soup. Sometimes we use chopsticks p/u some salad, place it on the top of soup, and sprinkle a little bit sauce on it, bring the bowl close to mouth before place it to mouth. If salad is salty enough to your taste, you do not need to use extra dipping sauce. At restaurant, you can either toss the salad together on the platter if the plate is big enough or just pick a little bit of duck with veggie and dip into sauce at a time. Lime wedges and thinly sliced or finely minced chili maybe used to flavor soup and sauce if you want to.
- If you have kids, make sure remove bones before feeding them.
4 Tbs water
The rice soup will be thicken specially when sitting overnight in fridge, just add a little bit water or broth to thin it down and adjust seasoning with salt or fish sauce.
Cháo Vịt and Cháo Gà is similar in preparing. Use chicken if you do not like duck but do not add ginger in the dipping sauce. Ginger is considered as “warm” to balance with duck considered as “cool” in Yin-Yang principles.
Sometime the cooked duck is immersed and let cool down in cold water to prevent the skin turns dark color and improve the skin texture but we can skip this step. We shred cooked chicken but chop cooked duck with the bone and skin included. Duck, sold in stores here, is pretty cleansed. Its cavity is filled with a bag of giblet, a neck bone, and an orange sauce. The oil gland, located on top of the tail usually is removed, but double check to made sure . If the loose skin at the neck has too much tiny feather cut and discard it.