I've made this a few times in Japan and I think I've finally worked out all the toppings and flavorings to my liking. So here it is:
Chao Ga :: Vietnamese Rice Porridge with Chicken
1 cup of rice, jasmine or japanese short grain
8 cups of water
2 inch piece of peeled ginger thickly sliced
1 bunch of scallions chopped in 1 inch pieces, whites only
8 whole black peppercorns
1. Put everything in a large pot. Bring to a boil then simmer on low for 1 hour. Stir occasionally and scrape rice from the bottom of the pan.
1 chicken breast
1 inch knob of ginger, sliced
1. Poach the chicken breast in water with the ginger until done. Set chicken aside to cool.
2. When the chicken has cooled, use two forks to shred into bite sized pieces.
Customize your own bowl with different toppings. I put the chicken on top of a small bowl of soup and splash some fish sauce on the chicken. Then flavor the soup with Maggi Sauce. It also gets a healthy sprinkling of chopped green onions. One of my favorite toppings when I was little was something I called "carpet" which is a really salty dried pork that is then shredded (. It looks like a giant jar of dog hair but it is delicious, especially in chao.
In Japan, rice porridge soup is called okayu and is eaten with sesame seeds, mushrooms or umeboshi, pickled plums. In Hong Kong, congee is a popular breakfast meal filled with meat, fresh green veggies and greasy donuts. I'm sure other Asian countries have their take on chao and I'm sure that it's a sentimental dish for everyone since it can be topped and mixed with just about anything.