Gratitude Chicken and Celery Rice

updated Feb 4, 2020
Gratitude Chicken and Celery Rice

Andrea Nguyen, author of Vietnamese Food Any Day, says this recipe is about her experience as a refugee in California.


Prep10 minutes to 15 minutes

Cook28 minutes to 30 minutes

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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

As part of Kitchn’s celebration of all things California, we asked 19 cooks from various disciplines — chefs, photographers, writers — to see what dish they think best embodies California home cooking in 2019. See all the recipes here.

When writer and cookbook author Andrea Nguyen thinks of coming to California from Vietnam, this dish from her new book, Vietnamese Food Any Day, comes to mind. “The recipe is about my experience as a refugee, and these days I think a lot about people coming to California as refugees and immigrants,” she says. “I wonder what is new for them, how they feel to be free from their burden and fears. California is a generous state to newcomers.”

As she writes in the book, “Chicken is pricey in Vietnam. When my family arrived in America and discovered a wealth of cheap chicken backs, we simmered them for stock, harvested the meat and fat (schmaltz), then used those elements for this delectable but humble rice. Even when I use oil and canned broth, the tasty results still embody the comforts of Viet cooking and our gratitude for being in America.”

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

Gratitude Chicken and Celery Rice

Andrea Nguyen, author of Vietnamese Food Any Day, says this recipe is about her experience as a refugee in California.

Prep time 10 minutes to 15 minutes

Cook time 28 minutes to 30 minutes

Serves 6

Nutritional Info


  • 2 cups

    long-grain white rice, such as jasmine

  • About 2 1/4 cups

    chicken stock or store-bought low-sodium chicken broth

  • About 1 tablespoon

    fish sauce, plus more as needed

  • 4 1/2 tablespoons

    rendered chicken fat, or other neutral oil, or a combination

  • 4

    large celery stalks, cut on the diagonal into 1/8-to 1/4-inch-thick pieces

  • 1 1/4 cups

    torn or coarsely shredded cooked chicken (use leftovers from making stock or a roast chicken)

  • Fine sea salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Wash the rice in several changes of water and drain in a mesh strainer set over a bowl for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, pour the chicken stock into a small saucepan and season with the fish sauce. (The amount used depends on the stock and your palate. I use about 1 tablespoon with homemade stock.) Bring the stock to a simmer, cover, and lower the heat to keep hot.

  2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm 3 tablespoons of the rendered fat. When the fat is barely shimmering, shake the rice to expel any lingering water, dump into the pan, and lightly fry for 3 to 5 minutes, until the grains looks dry-ish and feel light under your spatula (expect some chalky grains). Add the hot stock, stir, and briefly let it bubble and sizzle, then adjust the heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and cook for 2 to 4 minutes, lifting the lid occasionally to stir. When liquid is barely visible and a few craters form at the top of the rice, turn the heat to low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes more.

  3. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet over medium heat, warm the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons rendered fat. Add the celery and cook for about 2 minutes, until jade-green and slightly softened. Add the chicken and cook for 1 to 2 minutes to heat through. Remove from the heat, then season with salt and pepper and perhaps a sprinkle of fish sauce too.

  4. Turn off the heat under the rice, uncover, and add the celery and chicken, spreading them on top. Replace the lid and let sit for 10 minutes to continue cooking. Use a fork to fluff the rice and stir in the celery and chicken. (If the rice is dry, add 1 to 2 tablespoons water.) Re-cover and let rest for 10 minutes more. Before serving, fluff the rice again, taste, and tweak with salt, pepper, or fish sauce. Transfer the rice to a serving bowl or platter and place on the table.

Recipe Notes

Reprinted with permission from Vietnamese Food Any Day: Simple Recipes for True, Fresh Flavors by Andrea Nguyen, copyright © 2019. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.