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Vietnamese chicken curry, also known as ca ri ga, is a type of thick soup or stew made from marinated chicken cooked with vegetables and a reduced sauce made from coconut milk and chicken stock. Like some other Vietnamese dishes, Vietnamese chicken curry has a slight French influence in the way it is prepared and served. Spices in the dish include garlic, curry power or curry paste, and chili peppers that create a spicy heat countered by the addition of coconut milk. Potatoes — specifically sweet potatoes, although white potatoes also can be used — are one of the main ingredients in the dish. The finished Vietnamese chicken curry can be served in a bowl over noodles, though it more often is served with a piece of a French baguette on the side.
The chicken used in many Vietnamese chicken curry recipes is bone-in, skin-on chicken parts that have been cut into manageable pieces. Boneless chicken can be used, although they will not add the same flavors as parts with the skin and bone on them do. One preparation of the dish uses a whole chicken. The wings, thighs, breast and legs are all removed and chopped into smaller portions, while the remaining parts — including the giblets and neck — are used to create the stock.
A marinade of curry powder, garlic, onions, salt and pepper is made and applied to the chicken. It is fairly thick, so the marinade is rubbed into the surface of the chicken parts. While the chicken marinates, diced pieces of carrot and sweet potato are fried in oil until they have browned on the outside, although they are not necessarily cooked all the way through. The vegetables are removed once they have browned.
The marinated chicken, along with the marinade, are added to the pan and cooked until the outside has seared. The spicy marinade will roast and pick up flavor while the onions in it cook. Chicken stock is then added to the pan along with sliced lemongrass and other ingredients. The Vietnamese chicken curry is then allowed to cook until the sauce has started to reduce. When the curry sauce has almost finished cooking, the potatoes and carrots are added back to the pan along with some coconut milk, which is reduced until the curry is as thick as desired.
The finished Vietnamese chicken curry can be very soupy or it can be so thick that the sauce just forms a coating on the pieces of chicken. The chicken can be served over rice noodles or egg noodles, or it can be placed in an oven-safe dish, covered in pastry and baked to make a pot pie. A simple presentation has the curry in a bowl with French bread and hot chili dipping sauce on the side.
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