Just last week it was stormy and cold in California. I decided to make a large pot of Vietnamese Chicken Curry (Cà Ri Gà). Happiness is having a bowl of warm curry in the comfort of my home, while witnessing my annoying neighbor who looooves to stare into my soul retrieves her flying trash can down the street.
Every country has their own curry, but I, a full-fledged Vietnamese, is not biased at all when I say that the Vietnamese curry is the best one there is. It's not too pungent in spices. It's not too aromatic that it's overpowering and it's not too thick.
Vietnamese chicken curry (ca ri ga) has a great blend of spicy yellow curry, lemongrass, garlic and onions, all stewed with root vegetables in a rich chicken and coconut milk broth.
I like to have my chicken curry ladled over a bowl of steamed rice for a hearty meal. Other times I have my curry in a small bowl with a side of toasted baguette.
Some people take the extra step of frying the potatoes before adding them to the stew. This is to prevent them from breaking apart in the curry. I like to keep this simple and not dirty up another pan so I skip the frying step entirely. To prevent the potatoes from overcooking and breaking apart, I recommend adding them to the stew toward the end of cooking.
Also, add the coconut milk towards the end of cooking to preserve its richness, flavor and aroma.
To get the most flavor out of the dish, use chicken thighs. For even more flavor, use bone-in and skin-on chicken thighs. I had none so for my recipe below, I stuck with chicken tenders which still turned out great.
Vietnamese Chicken Curry Recipe (Ca Ri Ga)
- 2 lbs chicken (boneless chicken-thighs preferred, cut into bite-sized pieces)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon yellow curry powder
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons minced lemongrass
- 5 garlic cloves (mince)
- 1 large shallot (mince)
- 1-1/2 tablespoons yellow curry powder
- 2-1/2 cups water
- 19-oz can coconut milk
- 1 lb of potatoes (peel and cut bite-size pieces)
- 1 large white onion (slice into wedges)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons granulated white sugar
- 5 lemon leaves (optional; cut into thin strips)
- Marinate the chicken with salt, sugar, pepper and yellow curry powder for at least 15 minutes. Overnight in fridge for best results.
- To make the curry, add vegetable oil to a medium-sized pot and heat on medium high.
- Add lemongrass, garlic, shallot, and curry powder. Saute for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. You want to sweat out the ingredients; not fry them. Lower the heat if necessary.
- Add marinated chicken and toss the chicken in the aromatic mixture until evenly coated.
- Add 1/2 cup water. Cover the pot with a lid and simmer on low for 30 minutes. The covered lid and low simmer will collect a lot of moisture for the broth.
- Add the coconut milk, potatoes, onion and rest of water (2 cups). Cover the pot but leave a small opening to prevent the coconut milk from boiling over. Simmer on low for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender.
- Season with salt and sugar.
- Serve over a bowl of steamed white rice or with a side of toasted baguette. Top with a few sprinkles of julienned lemon leaves if desired.