Vietnamese Curry and Fried Chicken Recipe

Brine and marinate chicken, then bread and fry it until epically craggy and crunchy before dunking it in an aromatic, warming bowl of curry in this triumphant Vietnamese duet.
Photo by Farideh Sadeghin

Serves: 4 to 6
Prep time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total time: 2 days


for the chicken brine: 
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar 
½ cup|125 ml teaspoons fish sauce 
½ cup|125 ml soy sauce 
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt 
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns 
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs 
4 chicken drumsticks

for the chicken marinade: 
2 ⅔ cups|625 ml buttermilk
3 ½ tablespoons|50 ml hot sauce, preferably Crystal 
3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder 
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 ½ teaspoons cayenne
½ teaspoon MSG
2 large egg whites 
¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons|100 ml pickle juice 
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon|70 ml vodka 


for the annatto oil: 
2 cups|500 ml canola oil 
2 tablespoons annatto seeds 

for the annatto roux: 
¼ cup|60 ml annatto oil 
⅓ cup|50 grams all-purpose flour 

for the curry: 
½ cup|125 ml plus 2 tablespoons annatto oil 
1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped 
1 small Yukon gold potato, roughly chopped 
¼ cup|30 grams Vietnamese curry powder 
kosher salt, to taste 
1 thick stalk lemongrass, smashed and cut into 3-inch batons
¼ cup|35 grams minced ginger 
2 tablespoons chopped garlic 
1 large shallot, diced 
1 Spanish onion, diced 
1 bird’s eye chile, halved 
4 ¼ cups|1 liter roasted chicken stock 
1 cup|250 ml coconut milk, such as Aroy-d
dark brown sugar, to taste 
fish sauce, to taste 
freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
cilantro, to garnish 

for the dredge: 
canola oil, to fry 
3 cups|420 grams all-purpose flour
⅔ cup|110 grams potato starch
3 tablespoons chickpea flour
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon cayenne
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon MSG
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

to serve
Vietnamese curry powder, to taste 
ground Tajín, to taste 
cooked white rice


  1. Brine the chicken: In a large bowl, whisk the brown sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, salt, and black peppercorns into 4 ¼ cups|1 liter water until dissolved. Add the chicken, cover, and place in the refrigerator to brine for 6 hours or up to overnight. 
  2. Marinate the chicken: After the chicken has brined, in a large bowl, whisk together the egg whites, buttermilk, pickle juice, vodka, hot sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, and MSG. Remove the chicken from the brine and place it in the marinade, cover, and refrigerate for 6 hours or up to overnight. 
  3. Make the annatto oil: Combine the oil and annatto seeds in a small saucepan. Heat over medium until a deep-fry thermometer reads 300°F, then set aside to steep for 30 minutes. Strain and reserve. 
  4. Make the roux: Heat the annatto oil in a small skillet over medium. Add the flour and whisk constantly until the roux is a tan khaki color, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, set aside, and cool. 
  5. Make the curry: Heat 2 tablespoons of the annatto oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add the carrots and potato and season with salt. Cook until starting to turn sear, then add 1 tablespoon of the curry powder. Sear until golden and toasted, about 2 more minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve. In the same saucepan, heat ½ cup|125 ml annatto oil over medium. Add the lemongrass and cook until golden and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, then add the onion, shallot, and chile. Season with salt and add the remaining curry powder, then toast until fragrant and the onion has softened, about 2 minutes more. Deglaze with the chicken stock, bring up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add the coconut milk and season with salt, brown sugar, fish sauce, and black pepper. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes to 2 hours (1 to 2 hours is best). 
  6. After 1 hour, add the carrots and potatoes back in and cook until soft, 15 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of the annatto roux to the curry and bring to a boil, then cook until the curry has thickened, adding more roux 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency, about 3 minutes. Season to taste, ladle into a bowl, finish with a drizzle of annatto oil, freshly ground black pepper, and cilantro. 
  7. Fry the chicken: Heat 3-inches of oil in a large saucepan over high until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350°F. In a large bowl, whisk together the dredge ingredients. Drizzle some of the marinade into the dredge and massage it to create “craggles” before adding the chicken. Dredge each piece of chicken straight from the marinade, coating completely. Working in batches, fry the chicken until golden and crisp and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 165°F, about 8 to 10 minutes per batch. Using a slotted spoon or spider, transfer to a baking sheet lined with a cooling rack, then dust with the curry powder and ground Tajín. Repeat with remaining pieces of chicken, taking care to bring the oil temperature back up in between batches.
  8. To serve, divide the chicken among plates and serve with bowls of the curry for dunking the chicken and baguettes for making mini sandwiches. And rice! Because R I C E ! ! !

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