Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cari Gà - Curry Chicken

Clearly curry did not originate from Vietnam, otherwise we probably wouldn't have called it 'cari' except we pronounce it in a sing songy ca-REE. Who knows what it would've been called had it been invented by the Vietnamese.  At Easter dinner a few of us were discussing animal nomenclature in Vietnamese at first how much sense it makes, then our uncle made us think otherwise. Observe.

Cat = Con mèo (Kinda sounds like meow)
Dog = Con chó
Chicken = Con gà (Yes, like Cari gà means curry chicken)
Cow = Con bò (We all love pho bò, right? Beats pho gà any day.)
Pig = Con heo
Elephant = Con voi
Fish = Con cà
Whale = Cà voi (Elephant Fish!)
Dolphin = Cà heo (...Pig fish?)

I love it. So that was related because I made a curry from chicken. Now if you want to discuss meat, then it's easy by adding the prefix word thịt. Thịt bó is beef, thịt gà is chicken meat and so on and so forth.

Every Vietnamese cari has a few things in common. They're yellow curries, with chunks of bright carrots and potatoes, tenderized pieces of chicken and eaten with crusty French bread. Anything after that is up to you such as consistency of the broth. For example, my Mẹ's cari was very soupy and I remember loving her cari as a kid because my favourite part was dipping the soft, fluffy white part of the French bed into the soupy curry base. If my bowl was just full of curry broth and I was given a loaf of bread, I would've been a happy kid.

Cari Gà with lime dipping sauce
Printable Version
- 1 whole chicken, or a few chicken thighs. I bought 4 chicken legs. It has to be meat on the bone!
- 3 potatoes, cut into large chunks
- 3 carrots, cut into large chunks
- 2 sweet potatoes, cut into large chunks
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 can coconut milk + 1 can water!
- Lots of yellow curry powder
- Ginger, grated.
- Fish Sauce
- Black Pepper
- Oil

Lime dipping sauce
This lime dip deserves a whole post on its own but for now, trust me, this a must have with Cari Gà.
Try it with lobster, mussels and crab. I didn't even know people dipped our delicious crustaceans in melted butter until I saw it on the Simpsons when I was a teenager. How could anyone ruin such delicious meat with such a rich sauce? Why not let the sharp and sour of salt, pepper and lime mingle with the rich, sweetness of the seafood. Don't let that butter bully itself onto your taste buds. Stand up for them! Oh dear, Julia Child won't be happy with me...

- Limes
- Salt
- Pepper

Clean and dry the chicken. Cut it into pieces. I simply separated the drumsticks from the thighs. Rub curry powder all over the chicken, or toss it in a bowl. Sprinkle on some pepper. I may have misunderstood my Mẹ at this point but I let it marinate in the fridge for an hour or so.

You might want to remove the skin first. I tried it out with skin on.
It's not that great!
Put some oil in a large soup pot and sweat out the onion a little bit, about 20 seconds. Sear the pieces of chicken, similar to how one would sear beef for a stew or searing meat in general, just enough to cook the outer layer of meat.

Pour in the can of coconut milk, use the can to pour the 1 can of water in to clean out the excess milk. Another option is to use half the can of coconut milk and half the can of regular milk. That's what my Mẹ does since coconut milk is quite fatty although it definitely tastes better. Just a suggestion if you're looking to cut the calories.

Add the vegetables. Add fish sauce to taste. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about an hour. Skim the scum that gathers at the top, along with the fat if you're into that. I sprinkled on some chopped cilantro just before serving because I had it. Serve with sliced French bread and lime dipping sauce. I like to have a some slices toasted in the toaster oven and a few that aren't so I can enjoy both textures.

To make the lime dipping sauce, mix salt, pepper, lime juice together to taste. Dip the chicken, bread, potatoes, carrots, whatever you want, in it or pour it into your curry. Greatest thing ever.

a beautiful mystery

1 comment:

  1. This sounds delicious and I must try the dipping sauce. Sweet potatoes are one of my favourites, too. I included a link to your blog in my weekend links post today.