Cà Ri Gà (Vietnamese Chicken Curry)
1 whole chicken (4-5lbs), broken down into 8 pieces
4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 tablespoons minced garlic, divided
1 tablespoon finely minced lemongrass
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce, divided (*more to taste)
5 tablespoons Madras curry paste, divided
1 cup diced white onions
1 inch fresh garlic, sliced into thin matchsticks
2 whole red Thai chilies, minced (*more to taste)
1 13.5-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
3 cups chicken stock
2 stalks lemongrass
6-8 fresh kaffir lime leaves (2-3 bay leaves can be substituted if needed)
1 pound peeled potatoes, washed and cut into large pieces
3-4 medium sized peeled carrots, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
In a large bowl, add the chicken pieces, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, shallots, minced garlic, minced lemongrass, minced ginger, black pepper, sugar, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, and 2 tablespoons of curry paste. Thoroughly coat the chicken and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Place the chicken in the refrigerator and allow to marinate for 6-8 hours.
In a large heavy bottomed pot, heat the remaining oil to medium. Brush off the larger shallots/garlic/ginger pieces from the chicken (to prevent it from burning) and in batches, lightly brown the chicken on both sides—about 5-6 minutes. Place the browned chicken on a large plate.
Once all the chicken has been browned, discard all but 1 tablespoon of the oil/grease from the pot. Throw in the diced onions and cook for 2-3 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, chilies and saute for 1 minute before adding in the remaining curry paste. Cook for an additional 30-40 seconds to allow the aromatics and spices to release their oils and bring out their flavors.
Pour in the coconut milk and chicken stock. Take the back of a knife and smash the lemongrass stalks several times to bruise the stalks and release its oils. Add the bruised lemongrass, kaffir leaves, and remaining fish sauce to the pot. Place the potatoes and carrots in the pot and add the chicken. The items should mostly be submerged in the liquids.
Bring the liquids to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook the curry, partially covered, on a low simmered heat for 50-60 minutes. Once done, the chicken should be very tender and the sauce has reduced by about ½. Taste and adjust with additional fish sauce and black pepper as needed.
Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and serve hot with toasted baguettes (or rice, noodles, etc.).
The Culinary Chronicles and all Photography by Nam Nguyen are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.