This Vietnamese Chicken Curry is a fragrant and delicious home-style dish. It can be made with just about any cut of chicken and is loaded with healthy root vegetables. The curry is flavoured with classic south-east Asian ingredients like kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, zesty lime juice and fresh coriander. A very easy recipe that will surely please any hungry family.
Today’s Recipe is Sponsored by Le Creuset and Everten
The heat distribution and retention on this cast iron pot is amazing. Not only does it cook the curry evenly and quickly, it will stay piping hot even after you’ve turned off your stovetop. This is exactly what you need when you’re running a bit behind on getting ready for dinner, and perfect when everyone reaches for seconds.
We especially love how heavy the lid is on this. I know it sounds like a small thing, but once the curry reaches a boil you don’t get that rattling noise you can get with a standard saucepan. Instead all the heat stays trapped in, with any steam escaping silently at the sides. It’s amazing!
Making Vietnamese Chicken Curry
Our family has been making this Vietnamese chicken curry since… forever. It is one of those dishes my mum would be able to pull together at a drop of a hat.
This recipe was one of the first dishes mum ever taught me since it was really easy and mostly passive cooking. All the work is in the prep which isn’t all that bad.
Hopefully, you guys will find this recipe as easy and delicious as my family have over the years.
What Cuts of Chicken to Use
The short answer here is you can use pretty much any cut of chicken. For me, whatever is on sale at the shops is generally what I would use. Here are a few good options:
- My favourite option is chicken thigh cutlets. This is because I prefer thigh meat as it’s moist and tender, and I love eating meat off the bone.
- For a super cheap option that is easy to eat with your hands, go with chopped chicken wings (drumettes, wingettes and tips) or drumsticks. This is what my mum would use as we were growing up.
- If you are cooking for anyone like Steph who leaves enough meat on the bones to feed an army, then maybe go for a boneless option. Chicken thigh fillets would be your best bet.
The Curry Powder
For this recipe I have tried a few types of curry powders/paste. I normally do try to get the Vietnamese curry powder but it is not always available or convenient. So, here are my “go to” options:
- Vietnamese Curry Powder – An authentic Vietnamese chicken curry must have the Vietnamese madras curry powder. It should be available at your Asian groceries, and to spot it look for the word “cary” or “ca ri” (which translates to “curry”). Note this is different to Indian madras curry powder, which does not taste the same as the Vietnamese version.
- Generic Curry Powder – If you are anything like me, a trip to the Asian groceries can sometimes feel like Everest. So, when I can’t be bothered I just use generic curry powder from mainstream grocers. It’s not traditional but it still tastes pretty damn good!
- Thai Yellow Curry Paste – If you seriously don’t have the time or the willpower to do ANYTHING then just use Thai yellow curry paste (approx 100 gm). You will not need to prep the garlic, ginger, onion or the lime leaf since they are already in the paste. I do recommend still adding the lemongrass to really give it that Vietnamese feel. I can hear all the cries of “blasphemy” already…. but I am no purist and I understand people got lives to live!
Blooming the Spices
A very important step whenever you are cooking a curry is to bloom the spices. That is, gently fry the curry powder / paste in a decent amount of oil at low to medium heat to avoid burning. This will release the flavours and aroma from the curry powder since most of the ingredients in curry powder are oil soluble.
Note: If the curry powder or paste starts to burn or get explosive, then take it off the heat immediately and add a little more oil too cool it down.
For this reason, marinating the chicken beforehand in curry powder is probably not a good idea. You will not be able to bloom the curry powder properly or worse you may make it bitter by burning it. I know this all seems a little over the top but it is important to get into good habits.
Keeping the Vegetables Intact
This is one of those things where you don’t know the importance of it until you have cooked the recipe once before. The root vegetables tend to break up while you are cooking the curry. This will cause the sauce to be lumpy. To avoid this you can do the following optional steps:
- The most popular method is to flash fry the root vegetables in oil until they form a crust on the outside. This will create a skin and help keep your vegetables intact but should not cook your vegetable through. This will also slightly improve the flavour of the vegetables. I tend to skip this step if it is just for my family but if you want to impress someone then it is a must.
- Keep the skin on the white potatoes. This will help keep the white potatoes together and give a little texture. Also, you won’t have to bother peeling the potatoes as well!
- Do not cut the vegetables too small.
- Don’t overcook the root vegetables. Cook until just done.
- Be very gentle when stirring the vegetables. Even consider removing the chicken from the pot to make stirring in the coconut cream and fish sauce easier.
How to Serve Vietnamese Chicken Curry
There are a few ways I like to serve this dish up. Here is how I usually do it:
- Bread – Traditionally, Vietnamese chicken curry is served with French baguettes. But any crusty bread will do. I will eat this with sliced bread too!
- Rice – If you are having this with rice then I suggest using jasmine rice. This is because it complements the flavour of the Vietnamese curry and soaks up the sauce. Do not use brown rice as it just won’t absorb the liquid as well.
- Noodles – If you want to serve it with noodles then I suggest doing it like a Chang Mai khao soi. That is, don’t add the root vegetables, and use more chicken stock and coconut cream. Adjust the seasoning with more fish sauce. Then prepare either Chinese egg noodles, bun bo hue rice noodles or rice vermicelli (dong guan) and serve.
Some Helpful Tips
- We are using a Le Creuset cast iron pot which distributes and retains heat very well. All pots / stoves are different and you may need to adjust cooking times to compensate. Make sure to always check the doneness of your chicken and vegetables before serving.
- Add the fish sauce slowly and in small amounts! Taste check constantly. You can always add more fish sauce but you can’t fish it out.
- Lemongrass can be hard to get and quite expensive at mainstream grocers. If this is an issue for you then your Asian groceries will likely have frozen chopped lemongrass at a much cheaper price.
- If you do not have coconut cream then use coconut milk. You will need to add a little bit more to get the right colour and taste. I prefer cream because it has a richer taste.
Other Similar Recipes to Vietnamese Curry Chicken
- Quick Red Curry Chicken Noodle Soup
- Cheap and Easy Chicken Curry
- Thai Green Chicken Curry
- Pad Prik Khing – Dry Red Chicken Curry
- Oven Baked Curry Puffs
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Scruff & Steph
Vietnamese Chicken Curry (Ca Ri Ga)
- 3 L + / 4 qt + stock pot
- 1.5 kg chicken thigh cutlets (2 – 3 lb) or your choice of cut
- 1/2 cup coconut cream or can substitute with coconut milk
- 1.5 tbsp fish sauce
- 4 tbsp canola oil
- 1/2 onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 20 gm ginger, sliced
- 1 ½ tbsp curry powder
- 2 cups chicken stock (low sodium)
- 3 kaffir lime leaves (optional)
- 1/2 tsp MSG (optional)
- 1 tsp sugar
- pepper, to taste
- 2 lemongrass stalks, cut in half lengthwise then bruised
- 300 gm white potatoes, cut into chunks
- 300 gm sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
- 6 coriander sprigs, roughly chopped (optional)
- 2 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced (optional)
- 1 lime, cut into wedges (optional)
- 1 french baguette(s) or any other crusty bread
- Clean the chicken thigh cutlets and cut off any excess fat. Leave aside until needed.
- Prepare all your ingredients.
- In a large pot on medium heat add 3 tbsp of the canola oil, then gently sweat the onions, garlic, and ginger for 2 minutes.
- Add another tbsp of oil and the curry powder. Cook for 1 – 2 minutes. If it looks dry add another 1 tbsp oil.
- Add the chicken thigh cutlets to the pot and cover them in the curry mixture. Cook on medium heat for 2 minutes.
- Add the chicken stock, lime leaves (if using), MSG (if using), sugar, pepper and lemongrass stalks. Mix until combined. Cover and allow to come to the boil.
- Once boiling, add the root vegetables and gently mix through. Cover and return to the boil.
- Once the curry starts boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low. Leave the lid on and cook for 18 – 22 minutes.
- Check the chicken and potatoes for doneness. If still raw, then put the lid back on and cook until done.
- Optional Step: Once the chicken and vegetables are done, skim some or all of excess fat / oils off the surface of the curry. I suggest you do keep a little left in the curry.
- Add the coconut cream and fish sauce, and stir through. Taste test and adjust to your preferences (Note 1).
- Garnish with coriander and kaffir lime leaves, and serve with lime wedges and crusty bread.
- If you want more creaminess in your curry, simply add more coconut cream. If you require more seasoning then add more fish sauce. If the curry is over seasoned, then dilute with more chicken stock or water.