Vietnamese Lemon Grass Chicken Curry Recipe: A Flavorful Culinary Journey

Vietnamese Lemon Grass Chicken Curry Recipe: A Flavorful Culinary Journey

Vietnamese Lemon Grass Chicken Curry originates from a fusion of ancient culinary practices and French colonial influences. Traditional Vietnamese cooking incorporates fresh herbs, spices, and ingredients reflecting the region’s rich agricultural heritage. Lemon grass, a staple spice, has been used for centuries in Vietnamese kitchens. With French colonization in the 19th century, local cuisine absorbed new techniques and ingredients, evolving into the flavorful dishes known today. The marriage of these elements birthed the unique Vietnamese curry, blending indigenous flavors with French sophistication.

Cultural Significance

Vietnamese Lemon Grass Chicken Curry holds significant cultural value, especially during festivals and family gatherings. It exemplifies the communal nature of Vietnamese meals, which often involve sharing a variety of dishes. The aromatic curry, with its harmonious balance of lemon grass, coconut milk, and spices, showcases the Vietnamese emphasis on balance and harmony in food. Preparing this dish at home not only connects you to Vietnam’s culinary traditions but also enriches your understanding of its cultural importance, making it a meaningful addition to any dining experience.

Key Ingredients and Substitutions

Fresh Lemon Grass: The Essential Flavor

Fresh lemon grass provides the essential flavor in Vietnamese Lemon Grass Chicken Curry. It offers a distinct, citrusy taste that defines the dish. To prepare, slice the stalks into thin rounds after removing the tough outer layers.

If fresh lemon grass is unavailable, you can use dried lemon grass or lemon grass paste. Dried forms work best when soaked in warm water for 10 minutes. Lemon grass paste, available in many supermarkets, can also be a practical substitute.

Chicken Choices: Breast vs. Thigh

For this curry, both chicken breast and thigh can be used. Chicken breast is leaner and cooks faster, making it a suitable option for a quicker meal. Slice breast meat into even pieces to ensure uniform cooking.

Chicken thighs offer richer flavor and more moisture, enhancing the curry’s taste. Use bone-in or boneless thighs depending on preference. Remove excess fat and cut into chunks before cooking.

Step-by-Point Recipe for Vietnamese Lemon Grass Chicken Curry

Preparing the Ingredients

  1. Gathering Ingredients: Collect the following ingredients:
  • 1.5 lbs chicken (mix of breast and thigh)
  • 3 stalks fresh lemon grass
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 can coconut milk (14 oz)
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish
  1. Chopping Lemon Grass: Peel the outer layers of the lemon grass stalks. Chop the bottom 5 inches finely.
  2. Mincing Garlic and Onion: Mince the garlic. Dice the onion and bell pepper.
  3. Preparing Chicken: Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
  4. Marinating Chicken: In a bowl, combine chicken, 1 tbsp fish sauce, half of the chopped lemon grass, curry powder, and turmeric powder. Mix well and marinate for 30 minutes.
  1. Heating Oil: Heat vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Sautéing Aromatics: Add the remaining lemon grass, garlic, and onions to the pot. Sauté for 3-4 minutes until fragrant.
  3. Cooking Chicken: Add the marinated chicken to the pot. Cook until pieces are browned on all sides.
  4. Adding Coconut Milk: Pour in the coconut milk and bring the mixture to a simmer.
  5. Simmering with Spices: Add the sugar and remaining fish sauce. Stir well and let the curry simmer for 20-25 minutes until chicken is tender.
  6. Adjusting Consistency: If the curry is too thick, add a bit of water to reach the desired consistency.
  7. Finishing Touches: Add bell pepper slices in the last 5-7 minutes of cooking. Garnish with fresh cilantro before serving.

By following these steps, you create an authentic Vietnamese Lemon Grass Chicken Curry, connecting with the rich culinary traditions of Vietnam.

Serving Suggestions for Vietnamese Lemon Grass Chicken Curry

Accompanying Sides and Drinks

Pairing Vietnamese Lemon Grass Chicken Curry with the right sides and drinks enhances the dining experience. Steamed jasmine rice or vermicelli noodles (bún) complement the rich flavors of the curry. Fresh baguettes work well for those preferring bread.

Offer fresh herbs like cilantro and basil along with lime wedges for additional zest. For vegetables, steamed bok choy or sautéed green beans provide balance.

As for drinks, Vietnamese iced coffee (cà phê sữa đá) pairs nicely, balancing the curry’s warmth. Alternatively, delicate teas like jasmine or green tea refresh the palate. Light beers or crisp white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc also suit the dish.

Presentation Styles

Aesthetic presentation elevates the dish’s overall appeal. Serve the curry in a shallow bowl, ensuring the vibrant colors are visible. Garnish with chopped cilantro, red chili slices, and lemon grass for added visual appeal.

Use elegant serving dishes, such as ceramic or porcelain, to impart a traditional feel. Consider individual serving sizes with small bowls for each guest if hosting a dinner party. This approach facilitates easy sharing.

For a rustic setting, present the curry in a clay pot. This method retains heat and maintains authenticity. Whether casual or formal, thoughtful presentation enhances the culinary experience.

Pairing with Other Vietnamese Dishes

Complementing your Vietnamese Lemon Grass Chicken Curry with other Vietnamese dishes elevates your meal’s flavor profile and offers a delightful culinary journey.

Fresh Spring Rolls (Gỏi cuốn)

Enhance your meal with fresh spring rolls. These rolls, packed with shrimp, pork, and fresh herbs, add a crisp texture. Dip them in peanut sauce to introduce a nutty flavor contrast. Fresh spring rolls balance the richness of the curry with their lightness.

Green Papaya Salad (Gỏi đu đủ)

Add variety by serving Green Papaya Salad. The salad, with shredded papaya, carrots, and peanuts, is dressed in a tangy fish sauce. It offers a refreshing crunch and a hint of acidity, which harmonizes with the curry’s aromatic depth.

Banh Mi

Include Banh Mi for a hearty addition. This well-known baguette sandwich, filled with pickled vegetables, pate, and varied meats, complements the curry. Its crunchy bread and savory fillings enhance the meal’s textural diversity.

Egg Rolls (Chả giò)

Serve egg rolls for a satisfying bite. These rolls, filled with ground pork, wood ear mushrooms, and vermicelli noodles, are fried to achieve a golden, crispy exterior. Pair them with a fish sauce-based dipping sauce to provide a savory yet spicy counterpoint to the curry.

Pickled Vegetables (Dưa chua)

Present pickled vegetables as a side. Cucumbers, daikon radishes, and carrots, pickled in vinegar and sugar, offer a sweet and sour component. These vegetables cut through the curry’s richness, refreshing your palate.

Grilled Pork (Thịt nướng)

Offer grilled pork as an additional protein option. Marinated in lemongrass, garlic, and fish sauce, the pork’s caramelized exterior and tender interior add a smoky yet savory complement. Serve with a side of broken rice for authenticity.

Vietnamese Pancakes (Bánh xèo)

Finish with Vietnamese pancakes. Bánh xèo, a crispy and savory crepe stuffed with shrimp, pork, and mung beans, provides a unique textural contrast. Pairing this dish with your curry ensures a memorable and varied dining experience.

Enhancing your Vietnamese Lemon Grass Chicken Curry with these dishes ensures a well-rounded meal.


Vietnamese Lemon Grass Chicken Curry offers a delightful fusion of traditional and colonial flavors, making it a standout dish in Vietnamese cuisine. With its aromatic blend of lemon grass and tender chicken, this curry is both comforting and exotic. Pair it with jasmine rice, vermicelli noodles, or a fresh baguette to complete the meal.

Enhance your dining experience by serving it alongside Vietnamese classics like Fresh Spring Rolls or Green Papaya Salad. Whether you’re hosting a formal dinner or a casual gathering, this dish promises to impress. Enjoy the rich flavors and cultural heritage that Vietnamese Lemon Grass Chicken Curry brings to your table.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *