Like other cuisines of South-east Asia, Vietnamese cooking is highly perfumed with herbs such as lemon grass and purple basil. Hot chillies and aromatic ginger are also some of the essentials shared. Curry powder, as well as rich coconut milk, is also used. However, the light influence of China is also evident, Vietnamese curry dishes are slightly lighter and more delicate than Indian dishes.
In this fragrant dish, the chicken is marinated in a curry paste, then stir-fried with vegetables. It is delicious and goes perfectly with plain rice.
Cut the chicken into about
Peel the lemon grass stalk to reveal the tender, whitish centre and crush it with the flat of a knife. Then cut it into small chunks. In a food processor, combine the garlic, chillies, sugar, curry paste, curry powder, salt, pepper, fish sauce and water and blend to a paste. Mix this with the lemon grass and chicken pieces, and stir until all the pieces are thoroughly coated. Leave the chicken to marinate for about 1 hour at room temperature.
Heat a wok or large frying-pan over a high heat until it is hot. Add the oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, turn the heat to moderate, add the chicken and stir-fry for 5 minutes or until the chicken begins to brown. Add the onions and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add the stock and coconut milk. Bring the mixture to a simmer, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Then add the tomatoes, stir well and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer the contents to a bowl. Garnish with coriander and serve.
© 1996 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.