Vietnamese fish congee (also called “Chao ca”) is so flavorful and comforting. Making it in a pressure cooker is super easy and cuts down cooking time significantly.
Vietnamese Fish Congee (Chao ca)
A few days ago, I wrote an overview of Vietnamese rice porridge and different ways to customize it to your liking. Today, I will share with you my favorite way to cook fish congee. It’s actually very common in Vietnam to make rice porridge with seafood. Some of the popular ones are clam porridge, fish porridge, geoduck porridge and lobster porridge. I love the fact that each type of seafood gives the rice porridge a distinct flavor.
The shocking truth is I didn’t like fish congee when I was a kid. No, it wasn’t because of how it tasted. Instead it was because my family ate it so frequently that I got fed up with eating it again and again. Now when I’m older, a little wiser and more importantly live inland where seafood is not as abundant as in my hometown, I really appreciate how delicious and comforting fish congee is.
Cooking Vietnamese Fish Congee (Chao ca)
The main ingredients are rice, water, fish fillet and fish scraps (head, tail and/or bones). To infuse the rice porridge with flavors of the sea, you need more than just fish fillet. You can use whole fish (with head and tail) or just fish bones. In my case, I use a 1 lb to 1.5 lb piece of red snapper bones.
For the fish fillet, our favorite pick is grouper. Grouper is lean with a firm texture while being moist when cooked. Its cooked flesh is white, and though it is mild, the flavor is unique with a subtle sweetness. The taste is somewhat like a combination of sea bass and halibut. The whole grouper sold at my grocery store is much bigger than the one in Vietnam but they taste almost the same. I’m not sure about the availability of grouper in other cities in the U.S. and other countries. My grocery store always has it for sale. If you can’t find it, some other great types of fish are barramundi and halibut. I also want to mention that grouper is perfect for Vietnamese fried fish noodle soup, and in fact it is the fish my mom uses at home for that dish.