Vietnamese Chicken Curry Noodle Soup (Bun Ca Ri Ga)

I mastered cooking Vietnamese chicken curry noodle soup (bun ca ri ga) like how my mom cooks this for our family with the addition of chicken gizzards and hearts. Mom would always use a farm raised free range chicken for any kind of specialty soup that requires chicken bone broth.

  • Prep time: 60 minutes
  • Cook time: 60 – 80 minutes
  • Serving: I use a 12-quart pot and was able to make 8-10 quarts of this soup.

Ingredients:

  • 1 free range chicken (ga di bo)
  • 3 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 lb mixed chicken hearts, gizzards, livers (optional)
  • 2 to 3 cans of RICO Coco soda
  • 1 14 oz can coconut milk
  • 4 shallots (1/2 cup sliced)
  • 2 yellow onion bulbs
  • 8+ boniato (Japanese/yellow yams)
  • 2 lb carrots
  • 4+ Thai chilies
  • 1/3+ cup yellow curry powder (“Ca Ri An Do”)
  • 1/3+ cup Viet Huong fish sauce
  • 1.5 Tbsp salt
  • 6-10 bay leaves
  • 2 Liter + 1 Liter water
  • 3 cup coconut oil
  • 2 bags of medium size vermicelli rice noodles (Hieu Ong Gia Que Huong brand)
  • 1 bunch Vietnamese coriander (rau ram)
  • 1 bunch Chinese chives (he)
  • 1 bag of bean sprout (gia)
  • 2 limes
  • 1 can of 14 oz chicken broth (optional)

Dipping sauce for chicken meat: 1 part salt + 1 part lime juice + 2 part fish sauce + homemade Thai chili paste

Notes: Use 3 cans of RICO coco soda if 3 or more liter of water is added. Mom would cook this chicken curry with more broth for noodle soup or less if it’s eaten with bread.

Instructions:

Prepping

1. Prep the chicken and pluck any feathers that are still attached to the skin. Teaching moment: My little chef’s first time observing a whole chicken and she was so fascinated. I told her to sit and watch but oh she had to feel, touch, smell, and observe it closely. She learned to identified the body parts of the chicken too.

Chop the chicken’s legs, feet, and wings out first. Remember to chop off the chicken claws. Then chop the chicken’s body. I’ll chop down the sides of the spine, then the mid cross section on both sides where the thighs are joined to the ribs. The blue lines indicated where I chop the parts up. I sometimes reserve and freeze the middle section where the spine is to use for future recipes. I added 3 chicken drumsticks and deboned the meaty part. Add more to your preference.

2. Rinse and clean the gizzards and hearts. Remove any yellow lining in the gizzards by peeling it off and remove any blood clots in the chicken hearts. Put the chicken meat, gizzards, and hearts all into a large mixing bowl.

3. Prepare the marinade: Slice 4 shallots into thin pieces. In another bowl, mix 1/3 cup yellow curry powder, 1/2 Tbsp salt, 1/3 cup Viet Huong fish sauce, and about 6-10 dried bay leaves. Wearing latex gloves (unless you like to have your hand stained with curry paste and smells like curry all day), mix the sliced shallots and curry paste into the mixing bowl of chicken. This is the time to chop the Thai chilies and add to the mixture. If you are making this for the little kids, don’t add the chilies. Mix everything up well and put the chicken bowl into the fridge to marinate for an hour.

4. While marinating the chicken during this hour, peel and chop carrots into 1-inch lenths. Chop the two yellow onion bulbs into chunky pieces. I chopped each bulb into 8 pieces.

5. Rinse, peel, soak, cut, and fry the boniato (Japanese yams). Some folks use a variety of sweet potatoes and also russet potatoes, but since no one in my family likes russet potatoes, purple, or orange yams, I only use boniato. It’s also my favorite of all yams. I love the smell and texture of boniatos. It’s also the only type of yam my picky little chef would eat. I use about 3 cups of pure unrefined coconut oil or just enough oil to cover the yams when I fry it. For this batch today, I got distracted trying to multitask while frying these so the last half batch is a bit over fried.

Cooking Directions:

We are ready to cook this pot of chicken curry soup!

6. Heat up about 1/4 cup of the coconut oil used from frying the yams in the 12-quart pot. Set timer to 60 minutes. I divided the cooking time into four stages. Here’s a brief summary of the cooking process:

  • 5 minutes – brown the meat
  • 35 minutes – cook the meat and season the broth
  • 10 minutes – add and cook carrots
  • 10 minutes – add and cook the onions and fried yams

7. Brown the meat for five minutes on high heat. Add 1/4 cup of Viet Huong fish sauce while browning the meat.

8. After browning the chicken meat, add in 2 liters of water and 2 cans RICO coco soda. Bring the broth to a boil on high heat.

9. Turn the heat to medium-high. Discard scum. Here’s a before and after pictures. Cook the chicken on medium heat (light constant boil at #5 or 6 on GE Spectra stove) for 35 minutes.

10. During this time cooking the meat, prep the herbs. Wash, rinse, and chop the chinese chives into 2-inch lengths. Wash and strain bean sprouts in colander. Discard the mint and Vietnamese coriander leaves. Cut limes into wedges.

11. When there is 20 minutes remaining, add in the carrots and a can of coconut milk. Cook for 10 minutes on medium-high heat (#7 on my stove).

12. Note: If cooking this to be eaten with bread, move on to the next step. If cooking as a noodle soup, then add 1 Tbsp of kosher salt, 1 can of chicken broth, 1 liter of water, and 1 can of Coco Rico soda to make more broth for noodle soup.

13. For the last 10 minutes, add in the chopped onion and fried yams if it made it this far before anyone ate it all up. =)

14. Cook the noodles. I cook one bag at a time.  I fill up a 4-quart pot with water about 2/3 way. Then I empty the noodles into the pot.  I bring the pot to a boil. As soon the water starts boiling, I set the timer to about 5-6 minutes. My noodles came out perfectly done.  Soggy and overcooked noodles ruin any bowl of noodle soup so be careful not to overcook it.   This is how I cook this particular brand of noodle.  Oh I do run cold water through the noodles because the trapped heat can easily overcook the noodles making it soggy.

15. Prep your bowl of Vietnamese chicken curry noodle soup by layering it with friesh herbs and bean sprouts on the bottom, next the noodles, and then pour the hot chicken curry broth over. Remember to squeeze in a piece of lime and mix it all up. Oh yummy in my tummy! Enjoy!

My little foodie Grace Nhi only likes the plain noodles and fried boniato. Hopefully she will grow into liking this chicken curry noodle soup some day.

Behind the scenes:

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