Chao Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Rice Porridge)

By: MeganPosted: 09/01/2024 Updated: 12/04/2024
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 50 minutes
Total 1 hour
A steaming bowl of cháo gá or Vietnamese chicken rice porridge made with fragrant rice enveloped in a delicate aromatic chicken broth and shreds of tender poached chicken and topped with fresh herbs and fried shallots is the most comforting, heartwarming experience.
Chao Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Rice Porridge)

Cháo gá or Vietnamese chicken rice porridge is made with an aromatic chicken broth, white rice, tender shredded poached to perfection chicken, and then topped with crispy fried shallots and freshly chopped cilantro and green onion. Vietnamese congee is simple, easy to eat, and incredibly comforting.

Looking down at a bowl of Vietnamese chicken rice porridge surrounded by table settings.

Vietnamese porridge is the most healing soup that is easy to make in large quantities for large groups or to meal prep for the week. My mom would make a large steaming pot of this cháo gá whenever I got sick. One spoonful of this Vietnamese rice porridge would instantly make me feel so much better.

Vietnamese congee is popular for family celebrations, breakfast, and winter holidays. If you are looking for more comforting Vietnamese soup recipes, check out my pho ga (Vietnamese chicken noodle soup), bun rieu (Vietnamese crab noodle soup), and bun bo hue (Vietnamese spicy beef soup).

A spoon of chicken rice porridge being lifted from a bowl of chao ga.

What is Cháo Gá?

Cháo gá is a Vietnamese rice porridge or chicken congee that features poached chicken that is shredded and served in a flavorful and comforting rice porridge. A whole chicken is poached in water with ginger and shallots for a homemade broth and then removed and shredded. The long-grain jasmine rice is then cooked in the aromatic chicken broth until it reaches a porridge-like consistency.

Chao ga is often enjoyed with toppings such as fresh herbs like cilantro and green onions as well as fried shallots, lime wedges, thin strips of fresh ginger, or sliced Thai chilis. The combination of the soft rice porridge with the tender poached chicken and fresh herbs makes this Vietnamese congee incredibly satisfying and nourishing.

A bowl of chao ga on a table garnished with green onion and fried shallots.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

This chicken and rice porridge soup is perfect for those cold winter months or if you are feeling under the weather. Here are the top 3 reasons why you’ll love this chao ga recipe.

  1. Healthy and Nutritious: Vietnamese rice porridge has a balanced combination of carbohydrates from the rice, protein from the chicken, and various nutrients from the aromatics and herbs. It is an ideal option that is gentle on the stomach.
  2. Versatile: This Vietnamese congee is so easy to customize to your preferences. You can adjust the seasonings and toppings to tailor your bowl to suit your taste!
  3. Affordable: this chicken and rice porridge is made with simple, affordable ingredients that yield a large portion, making it a budget-friendly option.

Kitchen Equipment

For this chao ga recipe, you will need the following kitchen equipment items.

  • 8 qt Stock Pot: I used an 8-quart stock pot for this chicken pho recipe. You will need a large enough stock pot that can hold all the aromatics, whole chicken, and water.
  • Skimmer: a skimmer is used to skim the scum off the top of the broth for a clean delicious chicken porridge broth.
  • Spider Strainer: a spider strainer will help you scoop out all the aromatics once you remove the chicken.
  • Large mixing bowls: you will need a large mixing bowl to place the entire chicken in an ice bath and to wash the rice until the water runs clear.

Ingredients

You can find all of the ingredients for this chao recipe at your local grocery store or Asian grocery store. I’ve linked everything that I used for you below.

Chicken Broth

  • Whole free-range chicken: for an authentic Vietnamese porridge, use a free-range chicken for a juicier, more tender, and better-textured meat than a regular chicken.
  • Shallots: shallots add a flavor that is a combination of onions and garlic to the porridge soup.
  • Ginger: fresh ginger adds a spicy, peppery, warm, and slightly sweet flavor that adds to the comforting aromatic flavors of the chicken rice porridge.
  • Salt: a pinch of salt is necessary to season the broth.
  • Palm Sugar: palm sugar adds a flavor that is reminiscent of caramel with hints of maple that is less sweet yet more complex than white or brown sugar.tt
All the ingredients for making broth from scratch.

Porridge

  • Shallots: more shallots are necessary for a stronger aromatic flavor to the chicken congee.
  • Long-Grain Jasmine Rice: the best rice to use for chao ga is long-grain jasmine rice. The rice plumps up and releases starches that naturally thicken the rice porridge with chicken.
  • Chicken Broth: chicken broth adds flavor and volume to the chicken broth.
  • Chicken Bouillon Powder: Chicken Bouillon powder adds more concentrated chicken flavor without adding volume to the broth.
  • Salt: a pinch of salt seasons and enhances the flavor of the Vietnamese congee.
  • Sugar: sugar adds a hint of sweetness to balance out the savory flavors.
  • Fish Sauce: fish sauce adds a hint of umami flavor to the porridge soup.
All the ingredients for making the porridge for chao ga organized and labeled.

Substitutions and Additions

You can customize your Vietnamese rice porridge based on your preferences! I’ve listed some suggestions for substitutions and additions for you below.

Substitutions

  • Turkey: instead of chicken, you can use a whole turkey instead.
  • Yellow Onion: instead of shallots you can alternatively use a large yellow onion.
  • White sugar: instead of palm sugar, you can use regular granulated sugar instead.
  • Broth: Instead of chicken broth, you can use vegetable broth or a combination of different broths for your unique flavor profile.

Additions

  • Chinese donut: you can always top your Vietnamese congee with slices of Chinese donut, also known as youtiao or dau chao quay.
  • Spice: if you’d like to make your chicken porridge spicy, go ahead and add sriracha, Thai chili slices, or sambal chili paste.
  • Vegetables: if you’d like to make a more hearty and vegetable-forward chicken and rice porridge, you can add celery, carrots, corn, mushrooms, etc.

How to Make Chao Ga

Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to make this chao ga recipe. You will need a pot large enough to hold a whole chicken and 3 liters of water.

  1. Cook the chicken. In a large pot, add the chicken, halved shallots, sliced ginger, salt, and palm sugar. Then fill with 3 liters of water. Heat the water over medium-high heat until it reaches a boil, then boil the chicken for 5 minutes. Then turn off the heat, skim the scum off the surface, cover the pot, and let the chicken sit for 1 hour, (flip the chicken halfway for even cooking).
A whole chicken finished cooking in a large stock pot.
  1. Shred the chicken. After 1 hour, remove the chicken and place it in an ice water bath for 3 minutes. Then shred the chicken and set aside. Using a spider strainer or slotted spoon, remove the ginger and shallots and discard.
A whole cooked chicken resting in an ice bath to cool.
  1. Prepare the rice. Wash the rice until the water runs clear. Then drain and pat to dry. In a medium skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and 2 minced shallots. Cook until the shallots are translucent and fragrant. Then add the rice and toss to combine until lightly toasted about 5-6 minutes.
  1. Add rice and chicken broth. Add the chicken broth and rice into the large pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Then boil for 10 minutes. Lower the heat and simmer on medium-low for another 35-40 minutes or until it reaches your desired consistency. Stir periodically to prevent the bottom of the pot from burning.
Rice and chicken broth simmering in a large stock pot.
  1. Season to taste. Season the chicken rice porridge soup with chicken bouillon powder, salt, sugar, and fish sauce. Adjust to taste.
Seasoning Vietnamese chicken rice porridge to taste with chicken bouillon powder.
  1. Serve. Ladle the rice porridge into bowls, top with the shredded chicken and garnish with black pepper, shallots, and chopped cilantro and green onion. Enjoy!
A spoon of chicken rice porridge being lifted from a bowl of chao ga.

Tips for the Best Vietnamese Rice Porridge

  • Use high-quality free-range chicken: the flavor of the chao ga will be determined by the chicken that you use. For the best flavor and tender chicken, use a free-range chicken.
  • If you want to clean the chicken before cooking, scrub the whole chicken with about ½ tablespoon kosher salt and a cut lime. Then rinse it off with water.
  • Season to taste: like any soup recipe, you will need to taste the chicken congee and season with salt, pepper, sugar, or fish sauce.
  • Pay attention to the rice consistency. Once the rice begins to thicken the broth, adjust the consistency based on your preferences. If you’d like a thinner chicken porridge, add more chicken broth. For a thicker porridge soup, cook the rice even longer.

Storage Instructions

You can store this Vietnamese congee by allowing it to cool to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight container. You can store it in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days.

Reheat: Reheat only the portion of chicken and rice porridge you plan to eat to avoid reheating the entire batch multiple times. Reheat on the stovetop over medium-low heat until hot and steamy. If the Vietnamese porridge thickens too much upon reheating, add more water or chicken broth.

Frequently Asked Q’s and A’s

What is Vietnamese porridge made of?

This chao ga recipe features free-range chicken, long-grain jasmine rice, shallots, and ginger.

How is chao ga typically served?

Chao ga is served hot in individual-sized bowls garnished with fresh herbs like cilantro and green onions and crispy fried shallots. Sometimes it is also served with fresh ginger slices and Chinese donut.

Can I make Vietnamese rice porridge ahead of time?

Yes! You can make chao ga in advance and simply store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Keep in mind the rice texture may change after refrigeration.

How can I add more flavor to my chao ga?

You can add more flavor by adding additional aromatics such as ginger, shallots, garlic, etc. You can also flavor it with additional, salt, pepper, or fish sauce!

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Recipe

A bowl of chao ga on a table garnished with green onion and fried shallots.

Chao Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Rice Porridge)

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
A steaming bowl of cháo gá or Vietnamese chicken rice porridge made with fragrant rice enveloped in a delicate aromatic chicken broth and shreds of tender poached chicken and topped with fresh herbs and fried shallots is the most comforting, heartwarming experience.
Servings: 12 servings
Print Recipe

Ingredients

Chicken Broth

  • 1 3.5-4 lbs whole free-range chicken
  • 3 large shallots peeled and halved
  • 3 inch knob (70 g) ginger peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 cubes palm sugar about 3 tablespoons
  • 3 liters water about 12 1/2 cups

Porridge

Garnish

  • Black Pepper ground
  • Fried Shallots
  • 1 bunch Cilantro chopped
  • 4 stalks green onion sliced

Instructions

  • Cook the chicken. In a large pot, add the chicken, halved shallots, sliced ginger, salt, and palm sugar. Then fill with 3 liters of water. Heat the water over medium-high heat until it reaches a boil, then boil the chicken for 5 minutes. Then turn off the heat, skim the scum off the surface, cover the pot, and let the chicken sit for 1 hour, (flip the chicken halfway for even cooking).
  • Shred the chicken. After 1 hour, remove the chicken and place it in an ice water bath for 3 minutes. Then shred the chicken and set aside. Using a spider strainer or slotted spoon, remove the ginger and shallots and discard.
  • Prepare the rice. Wash the rice until the water runs clear. Then drain and pat to dry. In a medium skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and 2 minced shallots. Cook until the shallots are translucent and fragrant. Then add the rice and toss to combine until the rice is lightly toasted about 5-6 minutes.
  • Add rice and chicken broth. Add the chicken broth and rice into the large pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Then boil for 10 minutes. Lower the heat and simmer on medium-low for another 35-40 minutes or until it reaches your desired consistency. Stir periodically to prevent the bottom of the pot from burning.
  • Season to taste. Season the chicken rice porridge soup with chicken bouillon powder, salt, sugar, and fish sauce. Adjust to taste.
  • Serve. Ladle the rice porridge into bowls, top with the shredded chicken and garnish with black pepper, shallots, and chopped cilantro and green onion. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Use high quality free range chicken: the flavor of the chao ga will be determined by the chicken that you use. For the best flavor and tender chicken, use a free range chicken.
  • If you want to clean the chicken before cooking, scrub the whole chicken with about ½ tablespoon kosher salt and a cut lime. Then rinse it off with water.
  • Season to taste: like any soup recipe, you will need to taste the chicken congee and season with salt, pepper, sugar, or fish sauce.
  • Pay attention to the rice consistency. Once the rice begins to thicken the broth, adjust the consistency based on your preferences. If you’d like a thinner chicken porridge, add more chicken broth. For a thicker porridge soup, cook the rice even longer.

Nutrition:

Calories: 348kcal | Carbohydrates: 75g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 3mg | Sodium: 1309mg | Potassium: 185mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 88IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 1mg

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