Cari Ga: Vietnamese Chicken Curry

It’s surprising to many people who are only familiar with pho and maybe bun that the Vietnamese eat curry. Called cari , it’s the kind of dish that demonstrates once again what fertile borrowers Vietnamese cooks have been over the past couple hundred years. Typically using a turmeric-heavy yellow curry powder that is similar to some Thai curries and Indian curries, curried beef and curried chicken are common and considered a kind of comfort food. Served with rice or a crusty baguette for dredging, these are not really spicy curries, but luxurious on the palate, mild on the tongue, with a hint of sweetness from the coconut milk.

A luxurious yellow curry in the Vietnamese style with chicken & sweet potatoes.

My mother used to make this dish when I was young, and while I observed her making this dish a number of times, this is not her recipe. After many adaptations, I’ve developed this recipe to my own tastes without regard to authenticity. I like to add eggs to it, and although carrots are commonplace I generally skip them. It might or might not be authentic, but it is delicious!

You’ll need:

6 chicken thighs with skin and bones
4 tablespoons yellow curry powder, preferably Vietnamese (from a good Asian market)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
5 tablespoons coconut oil or vegetable oil
1 large white-fleshed sweet potato (not an orange yam) about 1.5 lbs
2 lemongrass stalks, inner white parts finely minced (use a sharp knife!)
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 very large white onion, sliced
1/2 cup xao xing cooking wine, sherry, or dry white wine
2 thin slices of ginger
2 bay leaves
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 14-ounce can of coconut milk
2 tablespoons fish sauce
salt & white pepper to taste
chopped cilantro & green onions for garnish

Do this:

Sprinkle chicken with 2 tablespoons curry powder, salt, pepper, and half the sugar. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Peel and cut the sweet potato into a very large (1 to 1.5-inch) dice. In a heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Brown sweet potato all over. Reserve in a bowl until later.

Turn heat to high and brown chicken pieces all over. Remove to a bowl or plate. Remove half the oil from the pot. In the remaining oil saute the lemongrass, garlic, and onion. When the onions have softened and are slightly browned at the edges add the cooking wine. Scrap up any crusty bits that might have accumulated on the bottom of the pot. Add the ginger, the bay leaves, and the remaining curry powder. Cook, stirring, for another 30 seconds or so.

Now add the chicken broth and the remaining sugar. Turn heat to high and bring the chicken broth just up to a boil. Add the corn starch to the water and stir with a fork until the starch dissolves. Add the corn starch slurry to the spiced broth and bring to a vigorous boil for one full minute, stirring every once in a while.

Return the chicken to the pot, add the coconut milk, and cover. Simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes. Check the pot occasionally, stirring gently from the bottom to make sure the sauce isn’t sticking.

Add the cooked potatoes and raw (washed) eggs to the cooking liquid, nestling them amongst the chicken pieces. Simmer an additional 20 minutes.

Remove eggs and rinse under cold water until cool enough to handle. Peel and hold for final service

Place chicken curry in a bowl. Garnish with cilantro and green onions. Arrange halved boiled eggs artfully on top. Serve with steamed white rice or bread. So satisfying!

So good over rice or with crusty French baguettes!

This curry is even better the next day!

2 thoughts on “Cari Ga: Vietnamese Chicken Curry

  1. Pingback: Vietnamese Steamed Quiche with Pork & Glass Noodles | OMNIVOROUS

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s