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Chicken curry

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Once I was asked what my most favorite dish was, spontaneously, words came out of my mouth “It is the best dish I have ever eaten, a hot, spicy, aromatic and gravy like chicken stew, or so called chicken curry, but not regular curry. It is my mom’s version of Vietnamese chicken curry.” For years, I have been studying in Ho Chi Minh city, whose diversity of food culture is highly regarded, surely, almost every types of curry dishes could be found here. Unforturnately, they can not fulfil my craving for my mother’s curry. Thus, I decided to ask her for the recipe to cook for myself. At first, I was very overwhelmed by the number of ingredients including, and it took me kind of many times trying to make my curry taste as delicious as my mom’s. For this reason, I will simplify the recipe by dividing it into 3 steps of preparing the ingredients, cooking, and assembling the dish. The first step is preparing. A food shopping would be appropriate as this dish needs “tons” of ingredients, and here is the list for 4 to 6 servings: 1 – 1.5 kg bone-in chicken thighs, breasts or wings, preferably with skin 2 sweet potatoes and 3 carrots, peeled and cubed

1 large onion, diced
2 stalks lemongrass, bruised stems
3 cloves garlic,
2 shallots and a thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and minced
5 tablespoons of Vietnamese curry powder
3 tablespoons of hot chilli garlic sauce
5 bay leaves
1.5 cups (about 750ml) of chicken stock
1.5 cups of coconut juice
Fish sauce, sugar, vegetable oil
Cilantro or Thai basil
After collecting all the ingredients, the next thing to do is marinating the chicken meats. They should be mixed with one third of minced garlic, shallot, and ginger, 3 tablespoons of curry powder, and 1 tablespoon of chilli sauce, for about 30 minutes before cooking. The cooking step is a little bit confusing due to its substeps, but not to worry, they are grouped into 3 major works, starting with frying the sweet potatoes. Put a pan on high heat and add a quarter full of vegetable oil then add in the potatoes, keep them on for about 5 – 7 minutes. When their outside is golden brown, turn off the heat, take out and place them on cooking papers to get rid of the excessive oil, the frying is done. The following work is to sauté the chicken.

Using a medium-sized pot is highly recommended so that the meat should be stewed in this pot later on, this will keep the meat juice to the full. Heat the pot on high temperature with 3 tablespoons of oil, once the oil is hot, sear the chicken skin-side down for about 2 to 3 minutes, until it is golden brown. Flip the chicken over and sear on the other side for 1 to 2 minutes, then transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. This is when the final work begins. In the same pot, lower the heat to medium, add the rest of minced garlic, shallot and ginger, stir evenly until the mix becomes fragrant, add the diced onion, as soon as the onion turn translucent, add the chicken back in, and pour the chicken marinade over. Next, add the chicken stock, coconut juice, lemongrass, and bay leaves into the pot, bring the liquid to a boil on high heat. Lower the heat to medium, adjust the taste by seasoning with fish sauce and sugar, then add sweet potatoes and carrots.

Let the curry simmer uncovered for about 25 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes and carrots are tender and the liquid reduces by half. That is how the second step is done. When the cooking is finished, it is time for final step, assembling. The most common way to eat chicken curry is with baguette, just make a small bowl of curry topped with cilantro or Thai basil, then tear a piece of crispy french bread and dunk into the steamy hot, fragrant sauce, it would taste heavenly good. This dish could also be served with steamed rice or vermicelli noodle (also known as bun). And I strongly recommend the combination of chicken curry and vermicelli noodle.

Though this noodle dish is not as well-known as Pho or other kinds of Bun, “mighty delicious” would be the words to describe it. In sum, my mom’s chicken curry recipe may seem strange, comparing to regular Vietnamese curry, because of the alternative ingredients, and also not easy to cook at first, though, just follow the 3-step process, preparing the ingredients first, then cooking them according to 3 major works, and finally assembling the curry dish in the most enjoyable way, eventually, the result would be absolutely worth the effort.

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