<i>Chao xa ga</i> (rice porridge with chicken and lemon grass)

  (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)

 

Chao xa ga (rice porridge with chicken and lemon grass)

Total time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Servings: 4 to 6

Note: Adapted from "Authentic Vietnamese Cooking: Food From a Family Table" by Corinne Trang. She writes, "Unlike other rice soups, chao xa ga is perfumed with tangy lemon flavors. Its chicken stock is infused with lemon grass early in the cooking process. When served, the porridge is garnished with julienned ngo gai, or saw leaf, an herb similar in taste to cilantro but stronger. Then freshly squeezed lemon juice is drizzled over, rounding out the lemony flavors of this unique soup. It is worth the extra effort if you can find ngo gai — a long, narrow, pointy dark green leaf with a tooth-like edge all around. It is sold in Asian and Caribbean markets."

9 cups chicken broth

2 stalks lemon grass, trimmed (outer leaves, tough green tops and root ends removed), cut into 1-inch pieces and lightly crushed

2 to 3 red bird's eye or Thai chiles, stemmed

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 cup jasmine rice (or similar rice)

2 cooked chicken legs, boned, skinned and shredded

Coarse sea salt

1/2 cup julienned saw or cilantro leaves

Lemon wedges for serving

1. Pour the chicken broth into a pot and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the lemon grass, chiles and fish sauce and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the rice and cook, uncovered, for at least 1 hour.

2. Stir in the shredded chicken and season to taste with salt. Continue to cook until the chicken is heated through, about 15 minutes. Divide the congee among 4 to 6 large soup bowls, garnish with saw leaves and 1 wedge of lemon for each serving.

Each of 6 servings: 212 calories; 15 grams protein; 29 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 3 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 30 mg. cholesterol; 0 sugar; 1,074 mg. sodium.