When cold weather hits, there’s nothing cozier or more craveable than Vietnamese cà ri gà (or chicken curry). This hearty, stew-like spin is made with a base of curried coconut milk, umami-rich fish sauce, and bright lemongrass, then tossed with tender sweet potato, chicken, and wilted spinach for a creamy, spicy, incredibly aromatic dish.
½ cup basmati rice
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
½ ounce lemongrass
3 ounces baby spinach
1 sweet potato
2 limes, divided
2 cloves garlic
½ tablespoon red curry paste
1 tablespoon fish sauce
8 ounces chicken stock
1 13½-ounce can lite coconut milk
6″ small pot with lid
10″ medium pan
Curry paste is spicy, but it’s also what flavors this dish. If you prefer a milder flavor, feel free to use less.
Coconut milk solids naturally separate from the liquids during transit, but come together during cooking. Shake the can before opening, or pierce the solids with a spoon before pouring into the pan to avoid a messy splatter.
In a small pot, combine rice, 1 cup water, and ¼ teaspoon salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and simmer until water is fully evaporated, 10-12 minutes. Remove pot from heat and let stand, still covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork, then cover to keep warm until ready to serve.
Pat chicken dry with paper towel and season all over with ½ teaspoon salt and pepper as desired. Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add chicken and sear until cooked through and no longer pink, about 6 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside to rest for about 5 minutes, then cut into ½-inch pieces. Reserve pan for Step 4.
While chicken cooks, rinse all produce. Using the back of a knife, hit lemongrass in several places—bruising the herb releases its citrusy aroma and flavor. Pat spinach dry with paper towel. Cut sweet potato into ½-inch cubes. Halve limes; cut 1 lime into 4 wedges and set aside for serving. Peel shallots and thinly slice into rings. Mince garlic.
Return pan from chicken to medium-high heat with 1½ tablespoons canola oil. When oil is shimmering, add shallots and garlic. Sauté, stirring and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add curry paste (see Recipe Tip) and stir to combine, about 1 minute. Add lemongrass and sweet potato and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
Add fish sauce, chicken stock, and coconut milk (see Recipe Tip) to pan with sweet potato and aromatics. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium high. Simmer until curry has thickened slightly, 10-15 minutes. Add spinach and chicken and stir to warm through. Season with juice of 1 lime and ¾ teaspoon salt. Remove and discard lemongrass, then remove pan from heat.
Divide basmati rice between serving bowls. Spoon over Vietnamese chicken curry and serve with remaining lime wedges for squeezing over. Dig in!
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