Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Mom's Recipes: Cháo Ca (Fish Porridge)

I realize this is the third "soup" post in a row and I promise it is the last, for a little while anyway. One of my favourite soups that my mom makes is cháo ca. In English, cháo seems to be translated into rice porridge or congee, not sure of the difference between the two. Cháo is pretty much a rice based soup. It seems like most Asians have their own versions.

It's usually served in the morning and my mom would make it when my sister and I were sick. There are many versions, plain white cháo with salted duck egg or fermented tofu, cháo ga (chicken porridge), cháo with meatballs and my favourite, cháo ca (fish porridge). I think cháo ca is actually a Chinese dish since I did not see it in Vietnam and had some of the other versions.

I have never made cháo ca so it's time to learn! The key to this specific cháo is to grind the rice grains so you get a really smooth consistency. I just love the fish flavoured with sesame oil and ginger. It gets quickly cooked from the heat of the cháo itself. I like the addition of century eggs but I can understand it's not for everyone. My sister will toast some Chinese bread sticks, cut it up and mix it in the soup. Top with green onions and coriander. Perfect!

Cháo Ca (Fish Porridge)

For the fish
* 200 g white fish - we used basa
* 1-2 tbsp ginger, julienned
* white parts of 3 green onions, sliced thinly
* ½ tbsp salt
* ½ tsp pepper
* 4 tbsp sesame oil

Slice the fish thinly (it helps if it is frozen).
Mix with all the remaining ingredients and set aside.

For the porridge
* 1 cup rice
* 2 L water, or broth

Soak in water for 15 minutes.
Rinse, drain and crush the rice into pieces with your hands (alternately, you can process the rice finely).
Cook in 2 L water (or broth).
Cook on low heat for 45 min-1 hour.

Serve with
Century eggs, sliced in quarters or sixths
green onions, for garnish
coriander, for garnish

Add the eggs and fish to the cháo and mix.
Alternatively, place the raw fish at the bottom of a bowl and pour the hot cháo, cooking the fish in the process.

Sliced fish with ginger.

Fish mixture.

Crushed rice.

There is nothing comforting than a hot bowl of cháo ca.

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