Aside from Bella, who claims I have an obsession with curries and make this particular one far too often, this dish appeals to everyone in the house. It's from Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table by Mai Pham and is a tad lighter than Indian or Thai curries (which I make and love, as well). The photo above was taken before the coconut milk was added, so the sauce appears thinner than it does when finished. I serve it with rice and naan, and for my family of six, I typically double the recipe. As delicious as this curry is on day one, it's even better on day two.
Makes 4 Servings
- 3 tablespoons curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 2 pounds skinless chicken thighs (I also use chicken breast, which I cut into 1" segments)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped shallot
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons ground chili paste or dried chili flakes, or to taste
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 lemongrass stalks, cut into 3-inch pieces and bruised with the flat side of a knife
- 1 (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled, cut into 3 slices and bruised with the flat side of a knife
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 3 carrots, peeled, cut on the diagonal into 2/3-inch pieces
- 1 1/2 cps unsweetened coconut milk or cow's milk (I always use coconut milk as it makes the sauce thicker--which my son Max loves--and really enhances the flavor)
- 1 yellow onion, cut into wedges
- 1 medium sweet potato (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/2 cup Asian basil leaves cut in half
- 8 sprigs cilantro, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 scallions, chopped
- Combine 2 tablespoons of the curry powder and the salt in a bowl. Add the chicken and turn to coat the meat evenly. Set aside for 30 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a medium pot over moderate heat. Add the shallot, garlic, chili paste and the remaining 1 tablespoon curry powder, and stir until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add the chicken and cook until the edges of the pieces are golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the fish sauce, sugar, lemongrass, ginger and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat. Add the carrots and cook for 10 minutes. Add the coconut milk, onion and sweet potato and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with toppings.