Chicken and rice soup (Cháo gà) is the breakfast of champions, Vietnamese style! Cháo, called congee in English , jook in Cantonese, zhou in Mandarin, kanji in Tamil, and more, depending on which country you are in, is one of the simplest recipes in the Asian repertoire. The most basic version is made with white rice and water, simmered together until the rice breaks down and the mixture thickens. Other versions call for red rice, brown rice, or starchy short-grain rice. Some have meat and bits of fish cooked in them; others are left plain and are garnished at the table. The amount of time you simmer the rice in the water —from 20 minutes to 2 hours— determines the final texture of your porridge.
In the South, there is a particular style of porridge where the rice is cooked in a large quantity of rich stock just until tender, but not thick. It’s typically served with meat and ginger dipping sauce on the side.
- 3 pounds chicken
- 6 whole scallions
- 1 piece fresh ginger (crushed)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt (plus more to taste)
- 1 cup jasmine rice
- 3 quarts chicken stock
- 1 fresh ginger (2- by 1-inch piece, peeled and cut into ¼-inch -thick coins)
- ground black pepper (Freshly)
- scallions (Finely chopped, white and light green parts only)
- chopped fresh cilantro (Finely)
- roasted peanuts (Coarsely chopped)
- fried shallots
- doughnuts (Chinese, optional, sliced)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the chicken, scallions, ginger, and salt and boil for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let stand for 15 minutes. If your chicken is larger than 3 pounds, let stand 10 minutes longer.
- Just before the chicken is ready, prepare a large ice-water bath. When the chicken is done, remove it from the pot and immediately submerge it in the ice-water bath, which will stop the cooking and give the meat a firmer texture. Let stand 20 minutes until the chicken is cool enough to handle easily, then remove from the water and pat dry. Pull the chicken meat from the bones, discarding the bones and skin. Shred the meat with your fingers; you should have about 4 cups. Reserve 2 cups of the chicken cooking water and strain through a fine-mesh strainer; discard the remaining cooking liquid. Discard bones and skin and set meat aside. (This can be done a day ahead.)
- While the chicken is cooking, prepare the rice. Place the rice in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse well under cold running water. In a large pot, combine the rice, stock, ginger, and the 2 cups reserved chicken cooking water. Bring to a boil over high heat, lower the heat to a simmer, then cook, uncovered, for 1 hour. The rice will have broken down and the mixture will have a porridge-like consistency. Season to taste with salt.
- To ready the garnishes, put the scallions, cilantro, peanuts, fried shallots, and doughnut slices in separate small bowls. Ladle the porridge into warmed bowls. Top each serving with an equal amount of the chicken and a pinch of pepper. Pass the garnishes at the table.