Chao Ga, or Vietnamese rice porridge, is a comforting and fragrant recipe consisting of a hearty rice porridge topped with succulent poached chicken and an array of aromatic herbs and spices. It's the ultimate comfort food that is both flavorful and warming to the soul.
✅ Why This Recipe Works
Simple to make – No hours of prep in the kitchen or chopping needed. This dish will come together in about 30 minutes.
The Ultimate Comfort – The fragrant and hearty rice porridge makes this the ultimate comfort food dish
Healthy and nutritious – Tweaked to be lower in calories and fats and bulked up with protein, this is a great healthy Vietnamese recipe, optimized to help you achieve your fitness goals.
💭 What is Chao Ga?
Chao ga is a rice porridge that is simmered with aromatics including garlic, ginger, and onion, as well as a protein source, in this case, chicken. It is often served with additional aromatics, seasonings, and Chinese savory donut known as youtiao.
“Chao” means porridge in Vietnamese and “ga” means chicken, so the direct translation of the dish is chicken porridge, also known as congee. It’s the ultimate comfort food and is often made for breakfast for brunch, on a cold day, or when you're feeling a bit under the weather. 🤧
🍎 Calories and Nutrition – Is It Healthy?
Chao ga is a very healthy dish given that it predominantly consists of protein from the chicken, carbs from the rice, and nutrients from the aromatics, making it a well-balanced and nutrient-packed meal.
As the ingredients are whole foods and are naturally very healthy, the key to making this dish fit into a healthy diet is to use the right cut of protein and portion the rice mindfully. In this recipe, a serving of Chao ga is only 361 calories with 36 grams of protein, 13 grams of fat, and 39 grams of carbs.
Here's how I portioned this recipe:
- Used 1 serving of rice at 150 calories
- Portioned 5oz skinless chicken thigh for a lean protein source. I took off the skin given its high-fat content.
- Omitted usage of fried donuts to avoid adding excessive carb and fat content – the meal has the right balance of macronutrients with the current ingredients
For a detailed breakdown of each ingredient, their portioning, and how they make up the nutrition profile of this low-calorie Chao ga recipe, you may refer to the table below:
📋 Ingredient Notes
Some of the typical ingredients of Chao ga include the following.
- Chicken – Essential protein source that also gives the dish its flavor. I opted for boneless skinless chicken thigh since it has enough fat for the flavor but not too much so that it would make the dish unhealthy. If you're able to, use free-range chicken for the best taste and meat texture.
- Rice – I used Jasmine rice. My favorite brand is Three Ladies brand, but any brand you prefer would also work. You can use either cooked or uncooked rice. Instructions for how to make the porridge for both will be included.
- Chicken Stock – Used to cook and liquefy the rice to give it the porridge consistency.
- Aromatics – I used garlic, onion, and ginger, which are vital for the flavor of this dish.
- Seasonings – Fish sauce and sugar gives this dish an additional flavor boost. My favorite fish sauce is the Three crabs brand.
See my recipe card below for a complete list of the ingredients with measurements.
📖 Substitutions and Variations
Leftover turkey – Put your Thanksgiving leftovers to use and use them as the protein base for this porridge
Leftover rotisserie chicken – Leftover rotisserie chicken would also be a great option here.
Make it spicy – Add chili flakes or chili oil.
With egg – Add a soft-boiled egg or salted duck egg for some additional yumminess.
🔪 Step by Step Instructions
The leftover method uses cooked rice and chicken to make the Chao ga. It’s very fast and a great way to use up some leftover turkey or rotisserie chicken and cooked rice.
Blend the rice – Add the cooked rice and the chicken stock or water into a blender. Blend until the rice grains are broken and well mixed with the water.
Sauté the aromatics – Mince the garlic, onions, and ginger. In a pot or saucepan, spray some cooking oil and sauté the aromatics while moving them around to prevent burning until golden, about 1-2 minutes.
Make the porridge – Add the chicken and the rice mixture into a saucepan and turn on the heat. Season with fish sauce and sugar to taste while mixing everything together. Add additional water as needed to achieve the desired texture.
Garnish and serve – Add chopped scallions, cilantro, and chili flakes if desired, and enjoy your delicious Chao ga!
🥘 Alternative Methods of Cooking
The instant pot method utilizes the instant pot to make the porridge, expediting the process substantially compared to the traditional method. The instructions below utilize uncooked rice and chicken.
To make, follow the instructions above with the sauté mode in an Instant pot. Then add the uncooked rice, water or stock, and chicken into the instant pot. Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. Let the pot go to natural release for 5 minutes. Shred the chicken, season, and serve.
The traditional method of making porridge is easy – it just takes a little longer to simmer the ingredients. The instructions below utilize uncooked rice and chicken.
To make, follow the instructions above while sautéing everything in a saucepan. Then add the uncooked rice, water or stock, and chicken into the pot. Bring to a simmer and leave for about 45 minutes ton ah hour. Shred the chicken, season, and serve.
Add more water or stock if needed – In the case that you find the porridge’s consistency too thick for your preference, add more water or stock to adjust to your liking.
Season for success – Don’t forget to season the porridge. I usually leave it to the end as people tend to have varying preferences for saltiness. You can also add some chili flakes or chili oil for a kick.
💭 Recipe FAQs
Jasmine rice is the best rice for Chao Ga because its delicate, floral aroma and tender texture perfectly complement the rich flavors of the poached chicken and aromatic herbs, resulting in a harmonious and satisfying dish.
Chao ga is a very healthy dish as it is chock full of protein, rice, and nutrients from the aromatics. The main seasoning sources, salt and fish sauce, are also very low in calories.
Chao ga can last in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. To reheat, microwave for about 1 minute or reheat on the stove. Keep the seasonings and garnishes separate and only top when you're about to eat the porridge.
🍽 Related Recipes
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Chao Ga (Vietnamese Congee) Recipe
- 1 Instant Pot (Optional)
- 5 oz Chicken thigh (Boneless, skinless for uncooked. If cooked, 3.75 oz)
- 1 clove Garlic
- 3 slices Ginger
- ¼ Yellow Onion
- 1 cup Chicken stock (Or water)
- ¼ cup Jasmine Rice (Uncooked. 135 grams of rice if cooked)
- 1 teaspoon Sugar
- 1 tablespoon Fish sauce
- Salt (To taste)
- Scallions and cilantro (For garnish)
- Chili Oil (Optional)
- Blend the rice – Add the cooked rice and the chicken stock or water into a blender. Blend until the rice grains are broken and well mixed with the water.
- Sauté the aromatics – Mince the garlic, onions, and ginger. In a pot or saucepan, spray some cooking oil and sauté the aromatics while moving them around to prevent burning until golden, about 1-2 minutes.
- Make the porridge – Add the chicken and the rice mixture into a saucepan and turn on the heat. Season with fish sauce and sugar to taste while mixing everything together. Add additional water as needed to achieve the desired texture.
- Garnish and serve – Add chopped scallions, cilantro, and chili flakes if desired, and enjoy your delicious Chao ga!