The curry you never knew you loved
Funny thing about the name of this post – a few years ago Steph and I were discussing SEO and linkbait techniques, which I assume all couples talk about privately, and I suggested as a joke that she name her upcoming post “Bun Bo Hue – The spicy Vietnamese noodle soup you never knew you loved”. She ended up going with it and it was pretty well received.
Growing up as a boy in a traditional Asian household can suck in at least one way: let’s say you loved the curry your mom makes when you’re growing up. If you asked while you were a kid, there’s no chance she’ll teach you how to make it or let you watch her make it because “boys don’t cook”. Later on, after I got married, I tried to scam her into telling me how she made her curry by pretending Steph wanted to know, but all I got was “a little sugar, a little shallot, etc”
But the Internet is a new age, so now I can bypass the middle-mom and get my recipes online. The recipe below is an amalgamation of ingredients and techniques from people with Vietnamese sounding names as well as Vietnamese language recipe sites. It’s also not completely honest because I made it without the lemongrass that all the recipes called for.
It wasn’t for lack of trying, we looked all over for any lemongrass that was up to snuff. We even looked at a local farm market. They had one stalk left, and it was the saddest, least green, most floppy lemongrass I’d never laid eyes on. I passed on the lemongrass, but while we were there, Steph found some mini pumpkins she wanted to use to tablescape. The conversation went a little something like this:
S: Oooooh, decorative gourds!!
M: It’s decorative gourd season, motherfucker!!
S: [laughs] what??
M: What? You don’t know? We need to catch you up to speed on internet literature
So I showed her It’s decorative gourd season, motherfuckers. and she stood there in the little farm market, reading it and giggling to herself. I created a monster: all day long she kept saying “It’s decorative gourd season, motherfuckers!!” and laughing to herself. The curry was worth it though, especially served with warm baked-that-day baguette from our local Vietnamese bakery.
- 2.5lbs chicken
- 1 shallot
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 stalks lemongrass, chopped finely
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 tbsp curry
- 1 thai chili
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp garlic powder
Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl and toss well with your hands. Cover and marinate in the fridge for 2-4 hrs.
- Marinated chicken from above
- 1lb potatoes
- 3 carrots
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
- 3 bay leaves
- chicken broth
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tbsp chili powder (optional)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 can coconut milk
Cut the potatoes and carrots into 1″ cubes.
Cover the bottom of a large pan with a thin layer of oil and heat. Fry the potatoes and carrots on all sides until lightly crispy. Remove and set aside.
Remove chicken from marinade and brown on both sides.
If your oil has burnt bits, skim and remove or change your oil. Sweat onion and garlic until fragrant.
Add chicken and vegetables back in, then cover with chicken broth, curry powder, garlic powder, chili powder (if using), and bay leaves. Bring to a rolling boil then reduce to a gentle simmer for 30-45 minutes.
Add coconut milk and simmer for 15 minutes, taste and adjust seasoning as needed.