My family´s chicken congee (Cháo Gà)

Delicious Vietnam #17

My family’s chicken congee (Cháo Gà)

Back to the time I was in high school, one day a friend invited me to a small shop near the main cathedral in Hanoi. Supposedly, that shop had “the best chicken congee” in town. Tuned out, the shop did sell decent congee. But the horrible service was such a letdown, I vowed never to return.

The simple fact is while I did not mind queuing for food; I would not do so for a bowl of congee! My father and his mother make much better congee that it is hard to beat. Admittedly my father is more famous for his fish congee. I have never made one as good s his though. Gotta learn more in my next trip back home. :-)

Congee (or cháo) is Asian-style rice soup. It is our food of comfort, so much like pho I would say. The Vietnamese version of congee is similar to the one we find in Cantonese restaurants here – small grains of rice being cooked until soft and tender in a savory soupy broth. We like to eat our congee with fried Chinese doughnuts (quẩy), for extra carbohydrates!


What makes my father and his mother’s congee so special? I guess it is in the love and care in the preparation. Unlike a lot of other recipes, we cook our congee from a combination of normal Jasmine rice and sticky rice. The rice is pre-soaked, and then coarsely pounded before cooking long and slow in chicken stock. I love the consistency of our congee – smooth, with separated small grains.

We, Vietnamese, also like to eat out congee with a lot of herbs. Sisho leaves and spring onion are the to-go combination for congee, and it is known to help with flu and the likes. In this instance, I have used Vietnamese mint (laksa leaves) and spring onion from my garden.

Melbourne weather today has been cold; it feels as though we are back in winter. We had chicken congee for lunch, and it was so satisfying!

Phuoc from phuoc’ndelicious is hosting this edition of Delicious Vietnam. Please head to her blog for the round up!

My family’s chicken congee (Cháo Gà)

I never really have a proper measurement for this recipe. So use this as a guide only. You will need a whole small chicken for the stock, but there will be leftover meat. Use it in sandwich, or salad.

printable recipe

Ingredients (serve 4-5)
½ cup sticky rice
1 cup Jasmine rice
6-8 cups water (estimate only)
1 small free-range chicken
1 piece of ginger
2-3 spring onions
3 tablespoons fish sauce
Salt and pepper
Condiment: finely chopped laksa leaves and spring onions
Fried Chinese doughnuts, to serve

Soak the two types of rice for at least 1 hour. Drain, and coarsely pound them with a pestle. It will look somewhat like this (broken rice!)


While the rice is soaked, cook the chicken. Bring 6 cups of water to the boiling point. Stuff the chicken with the ginger and spring onion. Put the chicken into the water, boil with high heat for 10 minutes, and then turn the heat down until the stock simmers nicely. Cover, and let it cook for 30 minutes. Take the chicken out, soak in cold water until cool. Shred the chicken meat, discard the skin and bone.

With the chicken stock, now add more water if needed to make a total of 8 cups of liquid. Bring to the boil, and gradually add in the rice. Bring the mixture to the boiling point, then, simmer with slow fire for at least 30-40 minutes until the grains are soft. Stir occasionally (nothing is worse than burned congee). Add more water if you feel that the congee is too thick.

Turn off the heat, cover the pot of congee and let it rest for 10 mins or so.

Now, to serve. First off, put the Chinese doughnuts under the grill in the oven until crispy. Cut thickly with scissors.

Put enough congee into another clean pot, add chicken, fish sauce. Adjust the consistency of the congee with extra water (the congee will be quite thick after resting) – you want a thick soupy consistency. Check the seasoning and add salt accordingly.

Just before serving, throw in the finely chopped herbs. Serve congee with lots of pepper, chilli powder (if preferred) and Chinese doughnuts.

35 Responses to My family´s chicken congee (Cháo Gà)

  1. Hannah says:

    Oh, how I love and adore congee! I've never made it with sticky rice, though. Something new for next time :)

  2. leaf (the indolent cook) says:

    Your congee looks lovely! So warm and soothing. Reminds me of home and my mum's congee.

  3. Phuoc'n Delicious says:

    Mmmm… craving some chao now too! Sydney's weather isn't as great at the moment too!

  4. penny aka jeroxie says:

    2 types of rice? I have to try this recipe. Interesting indeed! And will also try adding more herbs.

  5. Rosa's Yummy Yums says:

    It looks delicious and so comforting! I love family recipes.

  6. Little Corner of Mine says:

    Yummy, I love congee especially with fried chinese bread.

  7. Monet says:

    I have never tried congee before…but I've heard a lot about it, and now I must make a taste happen! Thank you for sharing another delicious recipe. As always, your posts make me smile. I hope you have a blessed beginning to your week. Much love from Austin!

  8. Indonesia Eats says:

    Ooo finally! I have been waiting for this recipe ever since you told me about your family congee. Thanks for the recipe.

  9. crunchytiger says:

    Yummmm! I just made chao ga on the weekend but your recipe sounds so amazing! Will have to try it next time with the two types of rice!

  10. pickyin @ LifeIsGreat says:

    Echoing Penny, two types of rice in a congee is novel to me. I wouldn't queue or wait for porridge either when I can cook really food ones at home. Our Chinese ingredients would be ginger, dried scallops/octopus, scallion/sesame oil. My parents used to make really good meat(pork)ball congee.

  11. says:

    I love congee, it's such a pick me up and one of my favourite comfort foods. My family makes congee with century duck eggs and dried scallops. Next time I make congee I will try your method of using a combination of sticky and jasmine rice.

  12. chinmayie @ love food eat says:

    Beautiful photos! Congee looks so nourishing and comforting!

  13. Junglefrog says:

    Congee is not a dish that we eat a lot here but I remember having it once while we were in Malaysia. To be honest I had no idea how to make it, but this looks delicious!

  14. Angry Asian says:

    i never realized chao required two types of rice. and this was so served when i was sick, i part dread it but mostly love it, if that makes sense!

  15. Karen M. says:

    Indeed, congee (aka jook, porridge) is what I always seek when I'm not feeling well. While the version I make is more Cantonese in style, I've always used a combo of long grain (usually Jasmine but sometimes basmati) and short grain. It gives it a nicer texture IMHO.

  16. Tanvi@SinfullySpicy says:

    Something very new for me but rice + chicken + congee sounds wonderful together! Beautiful presentation.

  17. Jo says:

    I love congee. It's such a warm "feeling" type of dish.

  18. Nami | Just One Cookbook says:

    Wow Anh… your congee looks really delicious. Your food styling makes this rather simple dish extra nice! I love adding Fried Chinese doughnuts… such a wonderful recipe. :-)

  19. Johanna GGG says:

    sounds like a dish that brings your family to you – food is great when it is so full of nostalgia and love – no shop can give you that!

  20. Peter G @ Souvlaki For The Soul says:

    Looks beautiful Anh! I love the addition of the donuts too…bring on the extra carbs!

  21. Julia @Mélanger says:

    My hubby always makes me congee when I'm sick. I'll have to ask him to try your family recipe next time! :) It looks lovely.

  22. Sailu says:

    Its been a while since I dropped by your blog. Hope your doing good, Anh :)

  23. foodwanderings says:

    Anh, I always wondered what is chicken congee and you explained it so beautifully. Not to mention the gorgeous as usual photography. I agree your flavors seems cleaner, crip and indeed perfect for a colder days you are experiencing in Australia. Great #DeliciousVietnam entry and am so happy I am a part of this round up eventually!!

  24. Ellie | Gourmand Recipes says:

    How I love Congee! Yes, secret to a good pot congee is to use a mix of sticky rice and jasmine rice. Now I wish I have a big pot of it in front of me.

  25. Christine says:

    looks so yummy! i love how congee seems to have penetrated so many Asian cultures.. I know my Mum has a Filipino version but I also enjoy the Chinese version in China town as well. Thanks for sharing your version as well :)

  26. ginger and scotch says:

    I love congee for its simplicity – rice, water, simmer, done!

  27. Janine says:

    I too adore congee and it's one of my comfort foods, something I turn to when I'm feeling down or when the weather's cold. I never did add any sticky rice to my congee but looking at your recipe now, I think I should because your congee has just the consistency I'm looking for! And love the youtiao (chinese doughnuts) on the side! It's my favorite combination too 😀

  28. Justin Agar says:

    I love it! Is that chicken feet?

  29. ChichaJo says:

    Oh yum!! Congee is popular here too although probably more the Chinese style ones. We have a similar local dish called Arroz Caldo which is a rice soup as well cooked with chicken, garlic, and ginger…this is the typical Filipino comfort food :)

  30. Xiaolu says:

    I love congee! It's total comfort food to me. Always make it when I feel under the weather.

  31. Faith says:

    What a hearty, warming dish…looks delicious, Anh!

  32. Ju (The Little Teochew) says:

    I'm transported back to my childhood! Those were such happy days, and this was a dish I loved! You actually managed to make congee look stylish. Lol.

  33. Congee Recipe says:

    Wow! I really want to try your version of congee. It looks good and tasty. A must try!

  34. Eri says:

    Hello Anh, thank you so much for visiting my blog, I've been here on your blog for a while now and I cant leave! I love your recipes and photographs! I think that this soup is the first dish from your blog that I will try to make, it seems pretty easy but yummy!

  35. angie says:

    I just woke up saw the sun and thought finally summers coming to Melbourne, I’ll go for a walk. Then clouds, icy breeze and I decided to eat some congee instead.. Do you have a interesting vegetarian recipe also? Thanks

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