Cà ri gà is a staple in most Vietnamese homes. Growing up, this version was the only curry I ever knew. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I finally tried Indian, Thai and Malay curries. There were green, red, yellow – made from dry spice blends as well as “wet” curries from ground roots, stems and spices. They all are fantastic yet this curry is the one I come back to most often as it is the one I grew up eating. It is not as thick as other curries and the coconut milk’s flavor is highly pronounced here. Vietnamese like to add sweet potatoes (khoai lan), which I think is just brilliant, bah oui. The potatoes’ sweetness is a lovely contrast to the spicy heat of the curry. Generally, this is another dish that requires a healthy portion of warm, crusty bread which is then hand-torn at the table and dunked into the sauce for maximum curry enjoyment.
I cut up a whole chicken for this dish, which is something I haven’t done for some time with pre-cut chicken being so readily available and convenient. I saved the back bone for making stock. The rest got cut up and added to the curry. I like to make my own spice blend but I’ve recently come across a ready-made one that I really like — it’s the Whole Foods brand of Muchi curry powder. It has a good amount of cayenne in it so it’s just spicy enough for me. My mother normally adds a couple of bay leaves but I really like to use Kaffir lime leaves because they add an incredible fragrance. I also use Savoy brand coconut milk – see photo below for the image [provided for Jen's benefit] I think Chaokoh is another reliable brand, but Savoy is the creamiest, thickest and most fragrant brand I’ve found. Of course, you could use any old brand, but as Paris Hilton would say, Life is too short for mediocrity.
CÀ RI GÀ – VIETNAMESE CHICKEN CURRY
INGREDIENTS: (4 servings)
- 1 whole cut up chicken (approx. 3.5 lb/1.5 kg), backbone reserved for stock-making
- 1 heaping Tbl (~ 15g) Muchi curry powder or 1 Tbl. madras curry powder + 1 tsp. red chili paste
- 1/4 tsp.(~1g) fresh ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. (~5g) salt
- 2 large stalks of fresh lemongrass, green tops removed (you’ll only use the whitish, bottom 1/3 of the plant) — which is cut into roughly 2-inch pieces and bruised with the back of a knife
- 3 large shallots, halved
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 2 bay leaves or 2 Kaffir lime leaves
- 2 (14oz/400mL) cans of coconut milk
- approx. 2-3 cups of chicken broth or water
- 1 Tbl. (~15mL) fish sauce (+ more to taste)
- 1 tsp. (~5g) sugar
- 3 medium sized sweet potatoes, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 Tbl. cooking oil
Marinate the cut chicken with the curry powder, black pepper and salt for about 1/2 hour. Add oil to your pan and set the heat to high. Sear the marinated chicken until golden on all sides (you may want to do this in several batches to avoid steaming the chicken) — set aside on a separate platter. In the same pan, use a spoon to scoop out the top, thick and creamy part of the coconut can (not the bottom, liquidy part) and add that to the pan and cook on medium-high heat until it begins to seize and the fat begins to bead and separate. The coconut cream will be very fragrant at this point. Put all the chicken pieces back into the pan and add the lemongrass, garlic, shallots and lime leaves. Add enough chicken broth or water to cover the chicken and then add the fish sauce and sugar. Bring to a light simmer and cook on medium heat for approximately 20 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes [edit: add more water to barely cover the chicken and potatoes] and cook until they are tender (approximately 15 minutes). Just before turning off the heat, add the rest of the coconut liquid to the pot and gently stir to combine. Serve with warm baguette.
Check out these other blog posts:
Cà Ri Gà – Vietnamese Chicken Curry from WanderingChopsticks
Cà Ri Gà – Vietnamese Chicken Curry from WineGuyWorld