Javanese Chicken Porridge

March 10, 2013
0 Ratings
  • Serves 8 or more
Author Notes

This porridge represents my childhood. I grew up in Central Java with my grandparents and I remember my grandpa used to take me to a chicken porridge stall every Sunday after our morning walk. I would finish a whole bowl and more often than not, ask for seconds. This porridge is Chinese influenced with the addition of youtiao (Chinese doughnuts - aka cakwe in Indonesian) dipped into the porridge. But the flavour is definitely Javanese: sweet and salty from the chicken broth that is ladled over it, and spicy from the tomato sambal. I do have to warn you that this is not a simple porridge that you could throw on a whim. There are many components that go into it and they take time to make. And you might need to go down to an Asian grocery store for some of the ingredients. But it's inexpensive and serves a crowd. I always look forward to eating it, be it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. —sel et poivre

What You'll Need
  • For the porridge
  • 3 cups uncooked jasmine rice, thoroughly washed
  • 2-4 liters water
  • 2 lemongrass, pounded with a pestle
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • For the soy-chicken broth and garnish
  • 10 red Asian shallots, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil (for frying shallots)
  • 2 pieces chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-off)
  • 1 liter water
  • 1 fat garlic clove, minced
  • 1 piece ginger, the size of your pinky, minced
  • 2 red Asian shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons Indonesian kecap manis (thick, sweet, and caramel-y soy sauce. pronounced: ketchup ma-niece)
  • 5 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • Pinch salt, to taste
  • 4 Chinese doughnuts, cut up to bite-sized pieces (can be found in the frozen section of your Asian grocery store)
  • 4 boiled eggs, halved
  • 1 spring onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 smallish tomato, roughly chopped
  • 2 red bird's eye chillies, roughly sliced (deseeded if you're a wimp like me)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 handful of prawn crackers (optional)
  1. First things first, MAKE THE PORRIDGE. Pound the lemongrass with a pestle and make a knot out of it. In the largest pot that you have, bring 2 litres of water to the boil and add in the rice, lemongrass and chicken bouillon cubes. Cover and let cook over high heat for 45 minutes (meanwhile, if you're the multi-tasking kind, boil some eggs, make the chicken broth, and fry the shallots).
  2. Check on the rice every 5 to 10 minutes, stirring and adding in more water - 500ml at a time so that the rice doesn't dry up. I used a total of around 4 litres of water. When the 45 minutes are up, lower the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for another 15 minutes, uncovered. Stir it often so the porridge doesn't get stuck to the bottom of the pan. The texture of the porridge should be quite thick but not overly so. Kind of like your average bowl of oatmeal (see picture). Remove from heat, discard the lemongrass and set aside.
  3. Now, ON TO THE FRIED SHALLOTS. In a medium skillet, heat 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Stick a chopstick into the oil to check if it's hot enough. If bubbles instantly appear around the chopstick, you're ready to go. Slide in 10 thinly sliced red Asian shallots. Stir CONSTANTLY and let it cook until golden brown. Scoop them out of the hot oil using a spider and set aside. Leave the oil alone in the skillet and ignore it for a moment.
  4. AS FOR THE SOY-CHICKEN BROTH: in another pot, bring 1 litre of water to the boil. Add in the chicken thighs and poach for 5 minutes over medium heat. Fish the chicken thighs out and using two forks, pull and shred the meat from the bone. Reserve the chicken water.
  5. Using the same skillet and oil from the fried shallots, cook the minced garlic, ginger and 2 thinly sliced shallots for about a minute over medium heat until the aroma tickles your nose. Add in the shredded chicken and stir for 30 seconds more. Now add in the kecap manis and soy sauce. Stir to coat well for another 15 seconds. Pour in the reserved chicken water and bring to the boil. Have a taste of the broth. It should taste salty and sweet. Put in more salt if you feel the need. Set aside.
  6. Next, MAKE THE TOMATO SAMBAL. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the tomato and chillies to a rough mixture. Add sugar, salt, and a tablespoon of the soy-chicken broth. Season accordingly and set aside.
  7. Now for the LAST STEP: ASSEMBLING THE PORRIDGE (phew, aren't you glad?). In a bowl, add a portion of porridge, then ladle in the soy-chicken broth and the shredded chicken over it. Put a half boiled egg and slices of Chinese doughnuts. Scatter some spring onion and fried shallots over it. Serve with the tomato sambal and prawn crackers. Enjoy!
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    sel et poivre

5 Reviews

savorthis March 12, 2013
I've been making a lot of jook lately- much simpler than this- and just love the concept. I, too, love to add shallots and eggs but have never had a chinese doughnut! At least not knowingly. I'm intrigued!
sel E. March 12, 2013
Yes, it does seem like quite a lot of steps doesn't it? But like sdebrango said, they're not complicated at all. It just takes a bit of time. But you must give Chinese doughnuts a go. I've been hooked since as long as I can remember. If you can't find them, you can try to make them yourself. I was going to include a Chinese doughnut recipe with this porridge, but I thought it would have been an overkill..
sel E. March 12, 2013
just in case, here's a link:
aargersi March 11, 2013
This sounds worth the shopping and the steps - love it!
sel E. March 11, 2013
Thank you for your kind words aargersi! I hope you do get to try it :)