Curry Chicken -Cari Ga

Vietnamese food

Make 4 servings
2 lb chicken thighs or drumstick with or without skin and bone.  Cut into 2-inch cubes
1 1/2 lb sweet potato, jam, or potato, cut into 2-inch cubes.
2 medium carrot (optional), peeled, cut on the diagonal into 2/3-inch pieces or wedges.
2 lemongrass stalks, removed green leaves if having any, washed
1 dried bay leave (optional)
2 Asian shallots or 1/2 large shallot about 3 Tbs minced shallot
2 garlic cloves. about 1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs sugar
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbs fish sauce and extra for taste
1 can(13.5 oz/400cc) coconut milk
2 cans (13.5 oz)  water, coconut water, or chicken broth
3 Tbs Vietnam Curry powder
2 Tbs vegetable oil or
1 small red Thai chili, thinly sliced (optional)
1 lime, cut into wedges (optional)
 table salt (optional)
A few sprigs cilantro
Cooked rice or rice vermicelli, french bread to serve

1.  Cut lemongrass stalks into 3-inches lengths.  Finely chop the white tender part (about 1/4 of the stalk from the bottom) slice paper thin crosswise first, then chop, set aside.  Bruise the rest with the flat side of a knife. If you can not chop the white part of lemongrass finely, put it in a processor and pulse a few times to chop finely.  Mince garlic and shallot. Peeled  and cut sweet potato, carrot.  Cover potato with water to prevent browning.
2.  In a medium bowl, combine chicken with sugar, salt, curry powder, chopped lemongrass, shallot, garlic, and ground black pepper. Set aside for  30 minutes.
3.  In a large heavy bottom saucepan, heating oil over medium high heat.  Add chicken pieces in  a layer and cook untouched until seeing the edges turn golden brown. May turn the heat down to medium if browning happened too much and too quick-easy happening with a light, thin saucepan. Turn it over and cook the other side until equally golden brown.  Add coconut milk, water (or chicken stock or coconut water)bruised lemongrass and bay leave if use.  Bring it back to a gentle boil, taste and add fish sauce to taste (might use less fish sauce if using chicken stock).  Add carrot, low the heat down to medium low.  Cover and simmer about 10 minutes.  Add sweet potato, bring back to a gentle boil.  Then low the heat to return to simmer with cover about 15-20 minutes or until the potato and carrot is tender.  Taste and adjust the season  if needed.  Skim off as much fat as  you desire.  Turn off the heat, let  stand for the flavor to develop at least 30 minutes. Discard bruised lemongrass and bay leave.  The curry will be eaten warm so reheat is needed.
4.  Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with cilantro.  Serve with warm french bread, cooked rice or rice vermicelli.  Put a little salt with a few slices of red hot chili and a lime wedges in a small plate or condiment bowl.  The diner will squeeze the lime juice atop the salt and/or chili to dip the chicken if prefer.

   The whole chicken can be used and need to cook longer until chicken meat start to fall off the bone.
   At some Vietnamese restaurants, the curry is really oily because we used to prize the fat.  I intended not to skim the fat in the picture and used annatto oil to make the fat has the bright orange color like it is sold at some places but it is not needed at home when we skim off most fat and the turmeric in curry powder gives the fat a typical light yellow of a curry dish.
   A small yellow onion maybe use instead of shallot.  One extra yellow onion quartered or halved can be added at the end when the potato and chicken tender to add more flavor if you prefer.  Add yellow onion at the last minutes cooking helps the onion stays crunchy and not mushy.
  Carrot and potato  can be seared to golden brown before adding to the chicken. Use a large sautepan, frying chicken first, remove and put into a saucepan and process like above.  Then use the same pan to sear potato until light golden brown at the edges.
   Coconut water is the clear, lightly sweet water inside a young coconut or in a can which is sold in beverage sections.
   Vietnamese curry powder is lightly spicy but you can put one or two small red hot chili in the soup for more flavor or spicy eaters.
   The liquid amount in this recipe is enough to eat with rice vermicelli.  If you like thicker soup just for bread,  use 2 Tbs curry powder and reduce the amount liquid to 2/3 or 1/2 but keep the same ratio of coconut milk and water 1:2.  If more coconut than water is used, the soup becomes thicker, richer and heavier same like heavy cream effect).
   A combination of curry paste (with oil in a jar-Cari cha) and curry powder can be used.  I haven’t used the curry paste here will update later.

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