Cà Ri Gà - Vietnamese Chicken Curry

By Unknown - 10:07 PM

Have you ever had Vietnamese Chicken Curry or Cà Ri Gà?

Almost every country in Asia has its own version of curry and Vietnam is no exception. Cà Ri Gà is a staple in most Vietnamese homes -- growing up, this version was the only curry I ever know. It wasn't until several years ago that I finally tried Indian & Thai curries. There were green, red, yellow made from variety of spice blends and from ground roots & stems. They all are fantastic (especially Indian Masala Curry - another favorite)  yet this curry is my all time favorite as it is the one I grew up eating.

I used to think I have to visit home (aka Mom's) or go to a great Vietnamese restaurant  to have something this good. Recently, I found out it is actually quite simple to make this sublime dish of braised chicken in a mild curry with carrots & potatoes. Unlike Indian, Thai or Malaysian curries, Vietnamese curry is more like a stew and is by no means bland. It is not as thick and the coconut milk's flavor is highly pronounced here. Curry originated from India which traveled to Vietnam and over time Vietnamese cooks adapted the dish to use local ingredients and to suit local palates, such as adding sweet potatoes, fish sauce & lemongrass. Of the long-standing French influence, this is another Vietnamese dish that requires a healthy portion of warm crusty baguette -- I absolutely love it. However, freshly cooked rice also works nicely.

Vietnamese curry is extremely fragrant & aromatic with coconut milk, lemongrass & bay leaf  and full of flavors. And with the generous amount of fish sauce (nước mắm) means no need for table salt. I can't emphasize enough how simple it is to make this dish and you can improvise with the recipe. Feel free to add roasted chili flakes to kick up the heat a knot or substitute the potatoes for taro or try different selection of sweet potatoes to add more color & texture to this beautiful dish.

Here's what you need to make 6 hefty servings:
1 stalk lemongrass
3-4 pounds bone-in chicken thighs & drumsticks, preferably with skin
1 med-large sweet onion, diced
4 clove garlic, minced
1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk
1 can coconut cream
2 cups chicken stock
3-4 carrot, peeled and cut into large bite-sized pieces
4 potatoes, peeled and cut into large bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoon sugar
5 tablespoons curry powder
2 teaspoons dried red chili flakes
3 bay leaf (or substitute with kaffir lime leaf)

Remove the hard end and outer layer of the lemongrass stalk. Bruise the white ends of your stalks with the blunt edge of a large knife -- this helps release the lemongrass flavor -- then thinly slice and mince. You should end up with about 2 tablespoon of minced lemongrass. DO NOT discard the green tops -- throw them in the curry & remove at the end prior to serving.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. This will help with searing. Season the chicken with generous amount of 3 TBS curry powder, 1 TBS lemongrass salt & pepper. Marinate for 30 minutes.
*Don't be a clutch like me and forget this step entirely. Thankfully, the chicken still turned out tasty, but would have been better if I had seasoned & marinated them.

Heat a deep skillet or Dutch oven over high heat. Once the oil is hot, sear the chicken skin-side down for for about 2 to 3 minutes, until it is golden brown. Flip the chicken over and sear on the other side for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside.

Lower the heat to medium. In the same skillet, add the onions and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, until the onions become translucent. Add the chicken back in. Add the coconut milk, coconut cream, chicken stock, lemongrass, fish sauce, sugar, curry powder, red chili flakes, and kaffir lime leaf or bay leaf. Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Add the carrots and potatoes. Cook uncovered for about 30 - 45 minutes, until the potatoes and carrots are tender and the liquid reduces by half.

Transfer to a deep serving dish. Serve warm with crusty French bread or rice.

Tear baguette by hand & dunk into the curry sauce. Try it. You'll love it, I promise.

It is as delicious & easy as it looks
This recipe will make you look good at your dinner party & impress everyone.
What are you waiting for? I know you want to...go on.
Get cooking!
Feel free to let me know how it goes.
Bon appétit!

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