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Vietnamese Chicken Curry Soup (Ca Ri Ga) – Make it Your Own!

Thu, Dec 29, 2011

Posted in:  recipes,vietnamese recipes    |    Tagged as:  

Vietnamese Curry Soup

Remember the home-made Vietnamese curry powder recipe that I came up with? And how I promised to post the recipe for a Vietnamese curry stew that utilizes this curry powder? Well this is me keeping my promise :).

My mom made this Vietnamese curry stew quite often when I was growing up. The stew freezes very well so when she goes on vacation without my dad (like when she visits me in Dubai for months at a time), she will make a huge pot of this stuff and freeze them in quart-size containers so that my dad can defrost them as needed for dinner.

I still remember the first time I ever made this curry for Scotch – which was probably about seven years ago. I followed my mom’s instructions and so ended up with a huge potful – probably enough to feed a small army for months!

Even though it was only Scotch and I, I wasn’t worried because I figured that we would make quick work of the curry. However, when Scotch tasted it, he only ate a small bowl and wanted no more. I was left on my own to finish it all.

By the third day, I didn’t want to see curry ever again.

Vietnamese Chicken Curry Soup

Of course, that was back in the day when I was just learning how to cook and Scotch was just learning how to appreciate Vietnamese food. Being used to more hearty stews and thick curries, my Viet curry seemed very watered down and bland to him.

These days, I make the curry consistency somewhere between a soup and a stew – not too watery and not too thick. If it’s too watery, I will add a little corn stach dissolved in cold water to thicken it up. Scotch now loves eating this curry and in a blind taste test, even preferred my own blend of spices to the store bought ones!

I like to add carrots, potatoes, and taro into my curry stew. In Dubai, I buy local taro (usually imported from Eqypt) that goes by the name of “gulgas” in the supermarkets here. It’s not as flavorful as say the stuff that’s imported from Thailand, but it’s a fraction of the price and doesn’t require me driving 30 minutes to the Thai market in Karama.

Taro or Gulgas

Local Taro or Gulgas

This is what the gulga looks like when peeled and halved:

Taro or Gulgas

I make a simplified version of my mom’s recipe by throwing everything into a large pot – my mom would probably prefer that I remove the browned chicken and then toss in the taro and potatoes to brown separately but I’m a big fan of one-pot meals and less dishes – and this version is just as flavorful.

The chicken is simmered in the stock until it falls off the bone. It’s best to use chicken drumsticks and thighs as the breast meat will dry out during the cooking process. I have also substituted duck legs for the chicken and the results were also fabulous.

Vietnamese Chicken Curry Soup

I find that this is a very versatile curry and you can highly personalize it to your taste. You can vary the type and the amount of root vegetables in the recipe depending on your preference. And add more or less tomato paste/sauce if you like. Make it your own!

Just don’t forget the all important squeeze of lemon right before serving and it’s best to throw in some chopped fresh herbs at the very end – I tend towards cilantro and scallions, my parents also throw in Asian basil. In case you want to kick it up a notch – you can add fresh hot chillis or a squeeze of Sriracha sauce.

Oh, and Scotch goes the traditional route and dips French bread into his curry. Me? I prefer fresh egg noodles or 1/4-inch rice noodles.

[easyrecipe id=”6397″ n=”0″]

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This is my contribution to the final edition of Delicious Vietnam, a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine created by A Food Lovers Journey and Ravenous Couple.

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