Chicken Coconut Curry - Kenski Family
"As part of the Willow House newsletter we are featuring recipes that are treasured by Willow House families. Food can play a huge role in remembering our loved ones and honoring their memory. I had the pleasure of speaking with Donna about the chicken curry that her son, Simon, loved to enjoy. Thank you Donna for sharing your story and this delicious recipe with all of us."
- Marissa Rogina, Willow House Intern
Why did you chose this particular recipe? (Marissa)
We chose this recipe because Simon really liked it. Simon didn't like spicy red curries or spicy food so we always had to make two versions of the curry—one for everyone else and one for Simon. It was a family thing. It is a recipe that Joe liked to cook, but I was not so fond of this. My family picked it because they would make it and eat it when I would go out of town. They would say that “oh, whenever mom was out of town and dad was cooking we would make this coconut curry.” We do keep making it, but we don't make the Simon version anymore. It always brings back good memories of Simon insisting that Joe make his non-spicy version. (Donna)
What memories does this recipe bring back?
There are also so many other foods, like celery and watermelon, that Simon loved. His favorite foods were so bland and uninteresting. Our other family members don't like bland foods, but Simon and I could always polish off a huge watermelon. That was my favorite food to share with him.
Do you/your family continue to make this food? Are there any specific occasions?
Simon was not a picky eater, but he just didn't like hot spicy things. Yes, we still make the spicy curry and we talk about how we don't make the second version now. It is a favorite of everybody’s. It is still a meal that my family makes when I am out of town since it’s not my favorite thing….it’s just an ordinary dinner food. They look forward to it when I'm not around.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Simon was just an easy-going kid. He just always had a scheme, he was a big-dreamer, and he was a story-teller. Everybody just loved him and he loved everybody. That was one thing, he was friends with everybody, it didn't matter if you were 60-years-old or six-years-old. Simon was interested in what you had to say and he could talk to everybody—that was a surprising thing we found out after he died. People came to tell us how much Simon meant to them. There were so many kids from high school and grade school, kids that I had never met. They had told us how much Simon meant to them—when they were new to the school and didn't have people to sit with, Simon was that kid that would go up to them. He would talk to kids at the bus stop and when he started driving he would give everyone rides to school. The parents of his friends would tell us that Simon would be over and everyone would be in the basement playing video games and he would always stop and talk to the mom or dad in the kitchen. He was both easygoing and out-going. He wasn't afraid of what people thought of him and he would always stick up for the little guy. He was a crusader for the underdog, which I didn't really know until he passed away.
We really appreciate Willow House. It is amazing to have a place to go where everyone understands. The world really doesn't understand what you're going through and you have to bottle everything up and “get on with life.” You are expected to get up and get the groceries and keep things moving. It really is a relief to have Willow House where everyone gets it and that helps us recharge.
6-8 chicken thighs
2 Tbsp olive oil or veg. oil
2-3 Tbsp red or green Thai curry paste (in a jar)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 green or red jalapeno, seeded and minced (optional)
1 13 oz. can coconut milk
1 cup chicken stock
dash of fish sauce
1 bunch green onions, sliced
big handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
cooked white rice
In a big frying pan, brown the chicken thighs in oil a few minutes on each side (don't cook through). Remove from pan and set aside. Add the curry paste, garlic, ginger, and jalapeno to the pan and fry for a minute. Add the coconut milk, stock, and fish sauce to the pan, bring it to a boil and scrape any bits of chicken or spices off the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken back to the pan and turn the heat down low. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until chicken is done. Serve on top of rice, topped with the onions and cilantro. The sauce is very soupy, so we serve it in bowls.