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Delicious Vegan Vietnamese Curry

After spending one month in Da Nang (Vietnam), I was surprised by the abundance of vegan and vegetarian restaurants throughout the city.

Despite arriving with no expectations, I was pleasantly surprised by the uniqueness and quality of the vegan options in some of the places.

Surprisingly, one of the dishes that made me lick my fingers was a Vietnamese curry which was advertised as being vegetarian.

Still, I tried it anyway because they hadn’t used any animal byproducts.

Now, this vegan Vietnamese curry is slightly different from the one I had (as it included taro root) but I tried to replicate it with ingredients that are a bit more familiar to those of us in the West.

viet curry

🧐 What is Vietnamese Curry?

Vietnamese curry, also known as Cà Ri Gà, is a popular dish in Vietnamese cuisine that combines elements of both Indian and Southeast Asian culinary traditions.

It is a flavorful, aromatic, and slightly spicy curry made with a mix of spices, coconut milk, and usually chicken (Gà) as the main protein, though other meats like beef or even tofu (rarely) can be used as an alternative.

The spice blend in Vietnamese curry typically includes ingredients such as Vietnamese curry powder, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and chilies. It also features vegetables such as potatoes and carrots.

Note: The Vietnamese curry powder we bought at a local supermarket here in Da Nang contained turmeric, coriander seed, dried chili, anise star, fennel, cloves, cinnamon, annatto seed, and black cardamom.

The curry is often served with steamed rice, rice noodles, or crusty French bread (a legacy of French colonial influence in Vietnam) for dipping.

🗒️ Ingredients You’ll Need

vegan vietnamese curry ingredients

This vegan Vietnamese curry uses a few unique ingredients you might have to look for in local Asian shops, but if you’re unable to find them, we’ve got a few ideas of substitutes in a section below.

The appeal of this recipe is that it can also be cooked in a pot, allowing for a quick and hearty portion that might cover a few meals.

  • Sesame oil: for a rich, toasty flavor that enhances the other ingredients.
  • Onion: the base of all great curries, providing natural sweetness and depth.
  • Fresh ginger: for a zingy kick that balances the creamy coconut milk.
  • Lemongrass: infuse your curry with that signature Vietnamese fragrance.
  • Vietnamese curry powder: the star of the show, lending warmth and complexity.
  • Bay leaves: granting a subtle, earthy background note to round out the flavors.
  • Pleurotus mushrooms: a meaty, satisfying addition that makes this curry extra hearty.
  • Sweet potatoes: for a touch of natural sweetness and a boost of vitamins.
  • Eggplants: to provide a velvety texture and a wonderful way to soak up all the curry goodness.
  • Carrots: for a pop of color and a dose of antioxidants.
  • Vegan fish sauce: for that authentic Vietnamese umami flavor, without the fish.
  • Sugar: to balance the flavors and bring out the best in your curry.
  • Full-fat coconut milk: for a luscious, creamy base that pairs perfectly with the spices.
  • Green peas: for a burst of green and a hint of natural sweetness that endows the dish with a touch of protein.

👌🏻 Ingredient Substitutes

  • Sesame oil – If you don’t have sesame oil on hand, no problem! You can use any other neutral-tasting vegetable oil, like grapeseed oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, or even coconut oil (especially as you’ll be using full-fat coconut milk in the recipe). If you’re looking for a healthier option, olive oil is always a good choice.
  • Lemongrass – Lemongrass is a key ingredient in this recipe as it contributes to its unique flavor, but don’t worry if you can’t find it. You may be able to find it in local Asian stores in different forms, like fresh, dried, or even in powder. However, if you’re unable to find it, lemon zest is a good alternative.
  • Vietnamese curry powder – If you can’t find Vietnamese curry powder, feel free to use Madras curry powder instead.
  • Pleurotus mushrooms – Pleurotus mushrooms make this recipe really special, but if you can’t find them, try to get your hands on shiitake, oyster, or portobello mushrooms for a similar texture and taste.
  • Vegan fish sauce – To be completely honest, I had never seen vegan fish sauce before stepping foot in Vietnam. I don’t know how easy it is to find it in the United States or Europe, but if you’re unable to find it, I would personally just replace it with regular soy sauce.
  • Green peas – I went for green peas for a change and it ended up very delicious, but using tofu for this recipe will work very well too.

👨🏻‍🍳 How to Make Vegan Vietnamese Curry

Alright, let’s get this incredible vegan Vietnamese curry started! First, grab a large pot and warm up the sesame oil over medium heat. Toss in the diced onion, ginger, and minced lemongrass, and let them cook for about 3 minutes, or until they’re soft and oh-so-translucent.

Now, it’s time to spice things up. Add the Vietnamese curry powder, bay leaves, and lemongrass stalks. Give it a good stir for about 30 seconds, so those delicious aromas can work their magic.

Next up, the pleurotus mushrooms! Add them to the pot and let them cook for about 4-5 minutes. This will allow them to soak up all those amazing flavors and become perfectly tender. Make sure to shred the mushrooms before tossing them in!

Time for the rest of our veggie crew: sweet potato, eggplant, and carrot. Sauté them well for a couple of minutes, making sure they’re sealed in and won’t get soggy too quickly.

Interesting fact: in the traditional version of this recipe, the veggies are usually pre-fried in oil in a separate pan before joining the curry party.

Moving on, let’s add the vegan fish sauce and sugar, and give everything a good mix.

Now, pour in that luscious coconut milk, making sure all those tasty ingredients get well acquainted.

Add the water and salt, but remember, the fish sauce or soy sauce already bring some saltiness to the table. Let the curry cook until the veggies are almost tender, about 10 minutes. Give it a taste and adjust the salt as needed.

Time for a pop of green! Stir in the peas and let them cook for about 3 minutes, or until they’re just tender but still bright green.

One last taste test! Adjust the seasonings as needed to find that perfect balance of flavors.

Serve your one-pot vegan Vietnamese curry hot, all dressed up with fresh cilantro, Thai basil, lime wedges, and/or sliced red chili if you’re feeling fancy. Pair it with steamed jasmine rice or crusty bread (banh mi) for a meal that’ll make your taste buds dance.

tasting the vegan vietnamese curry

Remember, the secret to an amazing curry is all in the tasting and adjusting. Don’t be shy—experiment and find the perfect harmony of flavors.

❓Frequently Asked Questions

What sets Vietnamese curry apart from other curries?

Great question! Vietnamese curry is known for its unique blend of flavors, featuring lemongrass and Vietnamese curry powder. It’s also lighter than compared to Thai and Indian curry.

Personally, I prefer thicker curries, but if you prefer yours more broth-like, you just have to adjust the water content.

Can I mix up the veggies in the curry?

Absolutely. Go ahead and get creative with your veggie choices. You can substitute or add any of your favorite vegetables to create a personalized curry experience. Taro root, bell peppers, and zucchini are just a few tasty options.

What if I can’t find Vietnamese curry powder?

No problem! You can use Madras curry powder as an alternative. Keep in mind that the flavor profile might be slightly different, but delicious nonetheless.

Is it possible to make this curry gluten-free?

Actually, this recipe is completely gluten-free. The vegan fish sauce I’ve used is simply a blend of fermented soybeans and water. If you can’t find gluten-free vegan fish sauce, feel free to use tamari or gluten-free soy sauce.

I don’t have pleurotus mushrooms. What can I use instead?

Don’t sweat it! You can simply replace pleurotus mushrooms with another type of mushroom. Shiitake, oyster, or portobello are all suitable substitutes for a similar texture and taste.

How should I store leftover curry?

Just store the curry in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave until warmed through.

Can I freeze this curry for later?

Yes! This curry freezes beautifully. Place the cooled curry in an airtight container and freeze for up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.

I love spicy food! How can I make this curry spicier?

If you’re all about the heat, add some fresh or dried chili peppers to the curry while it’s cooking, or serve it with a side of chili sauce.

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vegan vietnamese curry

Vegan Vietnamese Curry


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  • Author: Alexandre Valente
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

After spending a month in Vietnam trying out the different vegan local restaurants, I got the inspiration to make this delicious vegan Vietnamese curry; a dish that is hearty, delicious, and quite simple to make.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 3 tbsps sesame oil
  • 1 large onion (diced)
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger (grated)
  • 3 lemongrass (1 grated 2 crushed stalks)
  • 2 tbsps Vietnamese curry powder
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 250 grams pleurotus mushrooms (shredded)
  • 2 sweet potatoes (peeled and cut into cubes)
  • 2 small eggplants (cut into large horizontal pieces)
  • 2 medium carrots (peeled and sliced)
  • 2 tbsps vegan fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk (400g)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups green peas (frozen)
  • salt to taste (we used 1.5 teaspoons)

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, heat the sesame oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion, ginger, and grated lemongrass and cook for about 3 minutes, or until softened and translucent.
  2. Add the Vietnamese curry powder, bay leaves, and lemongrass stalks. Give it a good stir for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the mushrooms and let them cook for about 4-5 minutes, allowing them to absorb the flavors and develop a nice texture.
  4. Add the sweet potato, eggplant, and carrot. Sauté the vegetables well for a couple of minutes to seal them in and prevent them from getting soggy too quickly.
  5. Add the vegan fish sauce and sugar, mixing everything well.
  6. Pour in the coconut milk, ensuring that all the ingredients are well combined. Add the water and salt, keeping in mind that the fish sauce or soy sauce already contains salt. Let the curry cook until the vegetables are almost tender, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the salt as needed.
  7. Stir in the green peas and let them cook for about 3 minutes, or until they are just tender but still bright green. Taste the curry and adjust the seasonings as needed, making sure to strike the perfect balance of flavors.
  8. Serve the one-pot vegan Vietnamese curry hot, garnished with fresh cilantro, Thai basil, lime wedges, and/or sliced red chili, if desired. Enjoy with a side of steamed jasmine rice or crusty bread (banh mi) for a complete meal.
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Category: Main Course
  • Cuisine: Vietnamese

🙏🏻 Before you go, I’ve got a favor to ask!

I’d love to get your feedback on this recipe! Feel free to leave a comment below detailing your experience— and let others know how you feel about it!

Of course, you can also ask any questions you may have about the recipe— and we’ll try to respond ASAP.

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