White Bass Chao Ca (Vietnamese Fish Porridge)

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Chao or porridge is the ultimate Vietnamese comfort food. It's the equivalent of our chicken noodle soup. My mom always made it for me when I was sick. It also tastes delicious on cold days, or when you're in the mood for something tasty, yet light. Chao can be made in many ways. Sometimes, I just have it plain (water, rice, salt) with some soy sauce. But you can find chao made with fish, chicken, duck, innards... gelatinized pig's blood... Yeah! Just about anything. 

Please check out the "What We Do" page. Pictures have been updated. 

New Corn on the cob recipe!

Servings: 8
Cooking time: 1 hour
- 4 cups water
- 7 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup white rice
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 3 green onions
- 1.5 lbs. white bass filets, cut into pieces
- 1/4 cup julienned (cut into matchsticks) ginger  
- 1/2 tbs. salt
- one bunch of Vietnamese coriander
- cracked black pepper and salt, to taste
- 1 tbs. sesame oil (optional)
- 1 tbs. soy sauce

1.  In a medium sized pot, bring the water and chicken stock to a boil.

If you can, use homemade chicken stock. We used canned, but homemade tastes so much better.

2. Smash three cloves of garlic.
3. Cut up one onion into large chunks. It will break down in the porridge. 
4. When the water and stock comes to a boil, drop the onions and garlic in it. Then the rice. Lower to a gentle simmer and cover. 

Cook rice for 45-60 minutes. It really depends how much you want to cook it. Some people like their rice more intact, others like it obliterated. We settled somewhere in the middle. 

5. In the meantime, julienne the ginger.
6. Thinly slice up the white parts of three green onions. 

7. Slice the white bass into smaller pieces. You can actually use any kind of white, mild flavored fish you want.
8. Half an hour into cooking the rice, add the julienned ginger. 

* Please excuse the mistake in the photo. After experimenting, we found that the ginger tastes better when you cook it in the porridge before the fish. 

9. Combine the fish, green onion, 1/2 tbs. of salt, pepper to taste and sesame oil. The sesame oil is optional. It's usually not used in traditional recipes. 
10. 5-10 minutes before you shut off the heat on the porridge, add the fish mixture, the soy sauce and salt and pepper to taste.

11. Ladle into bowls. Chop up some fresh Vietnamese coriander leaves and mix it in each individual bowl. Garnish with sliced green onion. The coriander is an essential part of this dish. It's one of those things that makes chao, chao.

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