Chinese Chicken Porridge

Porridge is a staple in my mum’s kitchen. We would have it plain, paired with various stir-fried dishes or just some salty dishes such as salted fish, omelette with preserved radish. Sometimes, my mum will toss in bits of meat or fish and mushroom to make a complete one-pot meal. The one-pot wonder is also something she cooks when we are sick or nursing a weak stomach (or when we had our wisdom tooth taken out) so you can imagine how porridge screams “comfort food!” for me. As such, whenever we fall sick in India, I’d always think about making this Chinese chicken porridge. It can be a long process to cook, but the end result is well worth it.

Chinese chicken porridge

Prep 20-30 mins

Cook 1 hr 50 mins

Serves 2 hungry people

(a) 10 cups of water

(b) 250g chicken bones

(c) 1 medium white onion, halved

(d) 3 fat garlic cloves, crushed

(e) 2-3 inch piece of carrot, quartered

(f) 2 inch (or one medium sized chunk) fresh ginger, peeled and crushed

(g) 10 black peppercorns, crushed

(h) 1 bay leaf

(g) 3/4 cup white rice, pounded

(h) 4 chicken drumsticks, with skin

(i) 10 button mushrooms, quartered

(j) 2 Tbsp fish sauce

(k) Ground white pepper, to taste

(l) Sliced ginger to garnish

(m) 1 stalk spring onion, finely chopped, to garnish

  1. Bring (a) to boil in a large pot, then add (b) to (h). Simmer gently (without breaking into a boil), uncovered, for around 1 hour.
  2. Keep chicken bones, ginger and carrots in stock. Remove and discard everything else. Skim off most of the fat.
  3. Add (g) to pot and simmer, partially covered, for 15-20 mins.
  4. Add (h) and simmer for 12-15 mins.
  5. Add (i) and simmer for another 10-15 mins.
  6. Remove chicken bones from pot.
  7. Stir in (j) and (k) for seasoning.
  8. Serve garnished with (l) and (m)



a. According to Keys to Good Cooking, bubbling clouds the stock with tiny particles of protein and fat; gently moving water allows the particles to cluster and either rise to the surface or fall to the bottom. The open pot cools the stock surface, dries the protein scum and begins the concentration process. 

b. Pounding is optional but it really helps to create a smoother porridge. Always pound damp/wet rice: The first time I made this dish, I made the mistake of pounding dry rice. It was an uphill task and took up so much of my time. The second time, I pounded damp rice and it was SO EASY.

c. Stir occasionally throughout the simmering process to prevent scorching at the bottom of the pot.

d. Top up with hot water when mixture becomes too dry for your liking.

e. You can marinate the chicken bones and thighs with some cooking wine (I use hua diao jiu), salt and pepper prior to cooking. I like the marinade to sit for at least 2-3 hours.

f. Basmati rice is used for this recipe because this is the main type of rice in India. Thai jasmine rice (which is what my mother uses) will be beautiful too.


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