When we’re talking about Vietnamese cuisine in our family, my sis is all about the Pho. A few years back, I posted a phenomenal recipe for Pho Ga, Chicken Pho, just for her. Me, I’m all about the Cà Ri Gà. It’s a little harder to find in restaurants – and so a little harder to tame those cravings.
And Cà Ri Gà IS crave worthy. I will always order every time I see it on the menu. Deceptively simple, it’s chicken and potatoes (and sometimes carrots, sweet potatoes and/or taro) served up in a heady broth spiked with curry, lemongrass, and coconut milk. The chicken can be served in whole pieces or taken off the bone.
If you’ve had a Thai Chicken Curry or Indian Curry, you’ll want to step back from those taste memories. Way back. Cà Ri Gà might share some of the same spices but the flavors take on a whole different nuance in this soup-like curry.
For starters, the Cà Ri Gà usually starts with a Vietnamese Curry Powder, Ca Ri Ni An Do, which is readily available in Asian markets or online. Ca Ri Ni An Do gives a very subtle but delicious heat. Madras curry powder could be used in a pinch and is still delish, but does have a different flavor. I swear one of my favorite restaurants uses a little Madras curry in their Cà Ri Gà and sometimes I sneak in a tablespoon or two in mine.
Then there’s the lemon grass. Even I can find that at my grocery store in the Midwest these days, but I live in a larger city. And being cheap, um I mean frugal, I grow my own every year & freeze it to last through the winter and it’s still fresher than what’s at the market. But if you can’t get it, add about 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest to your pot.
You’ll almost always find Cà Ri Gà served with Vietnamese Rolls, which are crusty and fluffy and wonderful dipped into the broth. A good French Baguette will work, too. If you don’t have a great bakery, a good bet would be a “take and bake” baguette from your store. Sometimes, Cà Ri Gà will be served with rice. But any way you serve it, I’m betting you’ll fall in love, too.
Cà Ri Gà
First, you’ll make a rub and massage it in to the chicken, let it sit at least 4 hour, preferably overnight, then you’ll assemble the soup. Some of the same ingredients go in both the rub and the soup, so prep them at the same time.
- 4 to 5 pieces of chicken, bone in, skin on, dark meat preferred
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided (two tablespoons for the rub plus more to saute the chicken)
- 5 tablespoons Ca Ri Ni An Do curry powder, divided (two tablespoons for the rub and three for the soup) *
- 2 stalks lemongrass (mince about a tablespoon for the rub, bruise the remainder by hitting it with the back of a knife and then cut into 3-4″ pieces for the soup)
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger for the rub (use the large holes)
- 1 teaspoon black pepper for the rub
- 1 teaspoon sugar for the rub
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce, divided (1 tablespoon for the rub, 2 for the soup)
- 1 large or two small onions, about 1/2 inch dice, for the soup
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced, for the soup
- 1 13.5-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk for the soup, the creamy part skimmed off and reserved for the end of the recipe. If the coconut milk hasn’t separated into layers, just divide in half and reserve half for the end of the recipe
- about 3 cups chicken stock, for the soup
- 1 pound peeled potatoes, washed and cut into large pieces (about 3 or 4 medium) for the soup
- 3-4 medium-sized peeled carrots or 1 sweet potato, cut into 2-3 inch pieces for the soup
- fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
- warm Vietnamese rolls and/or rice for serving
In a large bowl, add the chicken pieces, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons of curry, minced lemongrass, ginger, black pepper, sugar and 1 tablespoon fish sauce. Thoroughly coat and massage into the chicken. Cover and place in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours and preferably overnight.
When ready to cook, heat the remaining oil in a large heavy saucepan or a stock pot. Brush off any large pieces of the rub clinging to the chicken (to prevent burning) and lightly brown the chicken on all sides. Remove to a plate.
Pat the potatoes dry and add to the oil (add a little more oil if needed) and lightly brown on all sides. Remove to a plate.
Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the oil/grease from the pot. Add in the onions, cook for two or three minutes until starting to soften. add the garlic and the remaining Ca Ri Ni An Do curry powder. Cook for about 30 seconds, stirring. Do not allow to burn.
Pour in the chicken stock and half the coconut milk; save the rest to add right before serving. If the coconut milk has settled, use the liquid portion now and save the creamy portion for the end.
Add the bruised lemongrass or grated lemon rind and remaining fish sauce to the pot. Add the chicken and any juices & bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Simmer for about 30 minutes, then add the potatoes and carrots or sweet potatoes. Everything should be mostly submerged at this point. Simmer for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, minutes, until chicken and vegetables are tender and the liquid has reduced.
If desired, remove chicken and separate from the bone, discarding skin and bone and return chicken to the pot.
Turn off heat, allow to cool slightly and add the remaining coconut milk. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more fish sauce (for salt) or pepper as needed.
Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and serve hot with warm rolls or rice.
* Note: sometimes I add a tablespoon of Madras curry powder to up the heat a little and round out the flavors.
|Amount Per Serving|
|% Daily Value *|
|Total Fat 31 g||48 %|
|Saturated Fat 8 g||38 %|
|Monounsaturated Fat 3 g|
|Polyunsaturated Fat 8 g|
|Trans Fat 0 g|
|Cholesterol 84 mg||28 %|
|Sodium 1148 mg||48 %|
|Potassium 376 mg||11 %|
|Total Carbohydrate 48 g||16 %|
|Dietary Fiber 6 g||24 %|
|Sugars 18 g|
|Protein 24 g||47 %|
|Vitamin A||5 %|
|Vitamin C||23 %|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|