Chao Ga - Vietnamese Chicken, Lemongrass and Rice Soup

This is me... Expanding my food cooking boarders. I've been to Vietnam and it's one of the most fantastic places I've ever seen. I especially enjoyed the food, vegetable rolls, fish, bread-oh god the bread!

This recipe came from Kelly S, a Nova Scotian who has moved to Australia. She is a chef by trade and her mom raved about this soup so I begged for the recipe.  I kept to the spirit of her directions with minimal changes.  

When I used the Google machine I discovered the Vietnamese name for this dish is Chao Ga and is a soup typically used as we would use Chicken Noodle soup - a staple that we turn to when we need to feel better. 

Things you Need (Otherwise known as Ingredients and Supplies)

2 Litres of Chicken Stock
3 cloves Garlic, unpeeled and crushed
10 cm (4") piece of Ginger, sliced
1 bunch green onions, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise

6-8 bone in, skin on chicken thighs (trim excessive fat and skin)
3 Thai Chilies, seeded and minced* (if you like very hot soup - add more Chilies)
2 Large Lemongrass stems, bruised
You can use a mallet, motar or knife to bruise the lemongrass.

Left  - Unbruised, Right - Smooshed
2 TBSP Fish Sauce
1/2-1 Cup Jasmine Rice (If you want a less thick soup I suggest 1/2 cup)

Large Handful Cilantro
2 Limes, cut in wedges
3 Thai Chilies, seeded and sliced
1/3 Cup Rice Vinegar

* Use gloves - Full stop. You will thank me for this advice if you have contact lenses. 

Things You'll Do (Otherwise Known as Directions)

In a large pot bring to a boil the stock, garlic, green onion, garlic and ginger.
Reduce and let simmer for 30 minutes. 
Add Chicken thighs and simmer for 1 hour. 
Turn off stove and let cool. 
Strain the stock into a clean pan. Keep the thighs but discard the rest. You should have at least 2 litres of stock. Skim visible fat off the top. Add about another 500ml to the stock and stir. 
Just before I skimmed off much of the grease
Note: I highly recommend that you put the stock aside to cool completely and them skim off the fat.  Chicken thighs are very fatty and this is the easiest way to get rid of the excess. I would even argue that doing these steps the day before makes the best sense.

Add lemongrass, chilies, fish sauce and rice. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for approximately 30 minutes. Rice should be very tender and almost dissolving into the soup. 
While the stock is simmering, discard the skin and bones from the thighs and shred the meat. 

Stir in the chicken in the last 5 minutes to warm through. Season with salt if you feel it is needed.
Ladle the soup into bowls and top with Cilantro and a wedge of lime. 

Take the rice vinegar and the other 3 sliced chilies and mix in a small bowl. This can be shared at the table and drizzled on top of the soup. 
Single serving of the vinegar, chili garnish

Serves 4-6.

The soup is extremely flavourful and fresh tasting! Just delicious, nourishing and simple...



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