Cháo Bồi (Vietnamese Porridge with Seafood)

Cháo Bồi (Vietnamese Porridge with Seafood)

In this light, savory Vietnamese porridge, shrimp, crab, and mushrooms are suspended in a silky soup of rice and tapioca pearls.


  • 8 ounces unpeeled raw large shrimp, tail-on
  • 3 medium scallions (about 1 1/2 ounces), cut into 3-inch-long strips and smashed
  • 1 (1/2-inch) piece unpeeled fresh ginger, thinly sliced and smashed (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 12 cups lower-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 1 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast 
  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
  • 6 dried wood ear mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil or other neutral cooking oil
  • ½ cup thinly sliced shallot (from 1 large [2-ounce] shallot)
  • 8 ounces crabmeat (fresh, thawed frozen, or canned), drained and picked
  • ⅓ cup uncooked small pearl tapioca (about 2 ounces)
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Thinly sliced scallions (light green and dark green parts only)
  • Roughly torn fresh cilantro


  1. Peel and devein shrimp; place shells and tails in a medium saucepan. Cut each shrimp in half lengthwise. Place shrimp on a plate, and refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Add smashed scallions, ginger, and 4 cups broth to shrimp shells. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high. (Remove chicken from refrigerator, and let stand at room temperature while broth comes to a boil.) Boil, stirring occasionally, until flavors meld, about 5 minutes. Add chicken breast. Cover saucepan tightly with lid, and remove from heat; let stand until chicken feels firm yet still yields a bit to the touch and a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of meat registers 155°F, about 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a plate, and loosely cover with aluminum foil; set aside. Pour broth through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a large (5-quart) pot; discard solids. Cover and set aside.
  3. Rinse medium saucepan, and fill halfway with water. Bring water to a boil over high; add rice, stirring to separate grains. Boil over high, undisturbed, until tender but still firm, about 8 minutes. Drain rice, and set aside. Rinse and dry saucepan.
  4. While rice cooks, soak mushrooms in hot water until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain and cut into thin (1/8-inch-wide) strips.
  5. Add remaining 8 cups chicken broth to warm broth in pot. Bring to boil over high; stir in mushrooms and reserved rice. Reduce heat to medium-high; gently boil, undisturbed, until rice grains are plump and start to split at ends, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
  6. While rice cooks, heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium. Add shallot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add reserved shrimp; cook, stirring often, until shrimp are just cooked and turn opaque, about 2 minutes. (Shrimp will curl into a corkscrew shape.) Remove from heat, and add crabmeat to shrimp mixture. Hand-shred reserved chicken into saucepan. Set aside.
  7. Place tapioca pearls in a fine wire-mesh strainer, and rinse briefly under cold water. Stir tapioca pearls into rice mixture in pot; return to heat over medium-high, and cook, undisturbed, until soup is slightly thickened and opaque tapioca pearls have expanded and are mostly clear, about 10 minutes.
  8. Stir chicken mixture into soup in pot; cook over medium-high, undisturbed, until heated through, about 1 minute. Season with salt to taste. Add up to 1 cup water as needed for soup to reach desired consistency. Remove from heat, and ladle soup evenly into 8 individual bowls or a large bowl or tureen; garnish with sliced scallions and cilantro. Serve immediately.

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