Chicken Soup With Rice Flashback

Does anyone remember this cartoon special, "Really Rosie," from the 1970s? A production of children's lit master Maurice Sendak, "Really Rosie" (with vocals by Carole King) is based on Sendak's endearing collection of poems, “Chicken Soup With Rice.”

Here’s the entry for March from the book:

In March the wind
Blows down my door
And spills my soup
Upon the floor.
It laps it up
And roars for more
Blowing once
Blowing twice
Blowing chicken soup
with rice.

That’s what came to mind when I made this cozy, chicken-and-rice combo from Janie Hibler’s “Dungeness Crabs and Blackberry Cobblers” (recipe details below) a few weeks ago. In her tribute to the cuisine of the Pacific Northwest, Hibler includes several Vietnamese recipes to represent the influx (and the cuisine) of Asian immigrants to the region in the early 1990s.

Although not quite soup of the Sendak variety, Kimmai’s Vietnamese Ginger Chicken has a warming porridge-y quality that is sure to ward off those March howlers. What I love most is the simplicity of the directions that read more like guidelines, for a super-easy dish that takes about 30 minutes, start to finish.

If I were ever lucky enough to meet Sendak, one of my all-time heroes, I’d make him this for supper, hands down.

Kimmai’s Vietnamese Ginger Chicken (Ga Xao Gung)
Adapted from “Dungeness Crabs and Blackberry Cobblers” by Janie Hibler

1 ¼ cups chicken stock (KOD: For 1 cup rice, use 1 1/2 cups stock; also, it's great to have on hand an extra 1/2 cup to add to gravy while everything simmers)
2/3 cup long-grain white rice (KOD: I used one cup of rice, either medium or long grain )
¼ teaspoon salt (Omit if using canned broth that contains salt)
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 pound boneless chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
About three tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce (nuoc nam)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon lemon grass, peeled and chopped (KOD: you need to peel away the very tough, fibrous outer layers until you can start chopping; you’ll snip off top part, too, ending up with a hunk about six inches long. Alternatively, use the grated zest of one lemon and one lime.)
½ cup thinly sliced onion (maybe ½ medium onion)
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
¼ teaspoon black pepper

In a saucepan, bring chicken stock, salt and butter to a boil. Stir in rice and cover. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil to medium-hot in a frying pan (KOD: I used my wok) and sauté chicken for five minutes. Add ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar and lemon grass, cooking for five more minutes. Add onion and fry for two more minutes. (KOD: Add extra stock at this time, if using.) Toss in crushed garlic, sprinkle with pepper and cook several more minutes (KOD: I cooked until onion was good and soft, and I covered wok, so liquid would not completely reduce.)

Serve atop rice.

Makes 2-3 servings.

By Kim ODonnel |  March 19, 2009; 7:50 AM ET Chicken/Poultry , Dinner Tonight
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This sounds great! Quick question for clarification-- is it 2/3 cup long-grain rice plus an additional cup long or medium-grain? Also, would brown rice work, if the cooking time is lengthened?

Posted by: imgould | March 19, 2009 10:14 AM

Same question regarding the rice. Sounds like a nice Asian variant on chicken and rice (I'm a big arroz con pollo fan). Incidentally, I'm fond of buying lemongrass, chopping it into pieces and freezing it. Instant lemon lift for soups and stocks!


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | March 19, 2009 10:48 AM

BB & imgould, sorry about that, fixed the typo. Actually, I tweaked the original recipe and use 1 cup of rice, either long or medium grain. Brown rice would work, but you'll need more liquid, probably close to double the amount listed.

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | March 19, 2009 11:09 AM

P.S. love the idea of freezing lemongrass! Smart cookie.

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | March 19, 2009 11:09 AM

This recipe looks great! It seems like it would be perfect to do for those nights when you need to throw something together without heading to the store, since it uses ingredients that I would normally keep on hand. And here's to frozen lemongrass!

Posted by: jwiley | March 19, 2009 12:42 PM

That song was one of my favorites as a child! And nothing beats chicken soup with rice in terms of comfort food.

Posted by: ath2s | March 19, 2009 12:55 PM

Hey Kim or other MAers,
I've had an overtired sort of week. I made chicken stock late on Monday night and got it into the fridge early Tuesday morning (it was still a little warm in the pot).

It's been in the pot (without the carcass) in the fridge since Tuesday morning.

Have I wrecked it? Can a get it into bags and freeze it tonight or have I lost the broth to my lack of sleep & energy? Thank you!!!

Posted by: capecodner424 | March 19, 2009 1:35 PM

p.s. that video was my favorite during early elementary school movie time, the last half hour of the day on Fridays...

Posted by: capecodner424 | March 19, 2009 1:36 PM

If covered with a layer of fat, your chicken broth should be fine, but be sure to bring it to a boil before using it, just in case.

Posted by: janedoe5 | March 19, 2009 1:39 PM

Kim's recipe sounds great.

I make something similar, but even more basic -- a version of arroz caldo. I use brown basmati rice and it works well. I cook a cup of that in 2 cups of water. Boil with cover on for 15 minutes or so, then turn it off and let it steam a while. I take 2 cans of chicken broth (yes, I know I SHOULD make my own stock) and simmer / boil it for 5 minutes with LOTS of minced ginger and garlic. I cut one chicken breast up into tiny pieces, and cook it in the broth. When the chicken changes color, I add the rice. When eating, add some chopped green onions on top. It makes a good breakfast -- enough for 4 or 5 days. Sounds weird but lots of people in the Pacific eat it for breakfast. Mine is the dumbed down version. Enjoy.

So sad that the chat is gone. I teared up while reading "The Swan Song."


Posted by: chcattorney | March 20, 2009 1:09 AM

Kim, this is my kind of recipe. Looks tasty yet very easy. If I didn't have theater tickets for tonight, it'd be dinner.

Quick question I've been meaning to ask you for months. You often list just "onion" in recipes but never specify the type. (red, white, yellow, sweet... all choices at my smallish market...). I assume plain yellow but let me know if it really matters. When in season, I tend to gravitate towards Vidalia...

Posted by: ArlingtonGay | March 20, 2009 9:47 AM

capecodner424, you soup is fine. Boil it for a few minutes as janedoe5 recommends. The rule of thumb I learned is to boil stock once a week if you keep it in the fridge.

To freeze it, measure how much you have then boil (or simmer, if you prefer) it down to 25% strength. It'll take up much less freezer space. Mark your container so you know how concentrated it is.

Posted by: fitday19550 | March 20, 2009 9:50 AM

Nancy - You can add some real goodness to that chicken stock by heating it up and letting it simmer for a little while with some chopped veggies (onion, celery, carrot) and possibly a few spices (thyme, bay leaf).


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | March 20, 2009 10:55 AM

hi Kim: In the recipe, it says 1/12 pound chicken. Is that really one and a half pound of chicken, or is it one half pound chicken? I'm thinking one-twelfth pound of chicken is, well, skimpy. That would be like a wing drummett. But maybe it's sort of a "semi-meatless" recipe.
Thanks for clarifying. Sounds delish and I'm actually going to try this if I can find lemongrass.

Posted by: khachiya1 | March 20, 2009 11:28 AM

So sorry about that typo -- it should read 1/2 pound, maybe a little more. Just fixed it.

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | March 20, 2009 11:43 AM

ACK! I bought pound and a half! Good thing I checked back to see if you answered my onion question. I'm making this Saturday.

Posted by: ArlingtonGay | March 20, 2009 5:25 PM

If I don't specify what kind, it typically means a yellow storage onion, GAFF. I find white onions too acrid for my taste, and red are great raw. Enjoy!

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | March 21, 2009 6:51 PM

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