Curried Coconut Chicken for Camila

This is a special post dedicated to my sister. This is more her story and beloved dish than mine. This is one of the many stories of our mother’s items lost and then found later in the most unusual times, remember that Kugel?

Our mother cooked and baked incredible things. With friends she prepared an entire shadow dinner with five courses and wine; she would also serve a simple supper of eggs and frozen peas followed by Haagen Daz chocolate ice cream when it was just us girls. She showed her love in the million ways she could – a soup, a cookie, a crocheted blanket, or one of her drawings. But there was one thing above all else she did specially for my sister and that was a chicken coconut curry. Every time my sister came home from her life in Washington, my mother would make a giant pot of this steaming on the stove. We might not eat it for a specific dinner but she made it and would have it nestled in the fridge between her half and half, diet Pepsi, and pink wine. It was one of my sister’s favorite things and my mother never failed to show her love by keeping it on hand.

Three years ago when we packed our mother’s life into boxes including the many cookbooks, my sister and I talked about the things our mom cooked that we would miss. The first and almost only thing my sister asked if we had was the recipe for this curried chicken and although I had made it before sitting in the corner of the kitchen next to the stove just to be near my mother’s shuffling warmth, I had to say no. I knew it was made with green curry and that plum sauce was what gave it the pink hue, I knew there was an orange peel, but beyond that I was lost.

Over the summer I decided to bake some cookies, I opened my mother’s hand written cookbook to get some inspiration. I flipped through her recipes, who knew she had so many for biscotti, I never remember her making that. There were variations on her chocolate mousse and notes to herself. And there between the pages a stained envelope and the note: Michael’s Curried Coconut Chicken For Barbara! I knew immediately what I had found and how happy it would make my sister to have this special recipe again. I have waited for the seasons to change so I wouldn’t curse the stove as I sat over it with this bubbling away, and this past weekend felt like the perfect time to break it out and share it.

The recipe is not spicy at all but rather comfortingly sweet and savory at once. It’s creamy and feels like it warms you from the inside out. I can’t seem to figure out if it tastes how I remember my mother’s but it certainly tastes close enough and who can ever recreate the love and devotion my mother put into each pot. But it filled a place in my stomach and heart and I know how deeply it will do the same for my sister. So this is a rather public way to share one of our family’s most intimate expressions of love.



Original recipe from Michael to my mother is below, my small input in italics.

Curried Coconut Chicken For Barbara! Love Michael!


1 cup/can coconut milk (I used light)

¼ cup plum sauce

2 Tbsp. Fish Sauce

2 ½ Tbls Green Curry Paste or Curry Powder

Jalapeno or Cyan to taste (my mom never used either)


1 Tbsp. Cooking oil

2 ½ lbs. chicken (cut into 1 inch cubes)

1 onion minced

4 cloves garlic

2 large potato skinned and diced (my sister and my memories diverge here I remember this as sweet potato and my sister remembers it as a russet insisting that is what makes it so hearty)

2 pieces Tangerine or Orange Peal

Salt to Taste

Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix up!

Put oil and onion in a heavy bottomed pot or pan and start to sauté. Add chicken and cook until pieces are white along the outside, it will continue to cook in the sauce. Add tangerine peel, garlic, and sauce, bring to boil. Add potatoes and cover, then simmer for about 30 min or until potatoes are soft. Remove orange peel.

Serve to loved ones or keep it all to your self?!

My mother served it over steamed rice I added some sauteed seasonal vegies on the side.


Also just a few things I can’t get enough of these days.

I can’t stop humming this song

And all of the amazing reviews the current show at Ars Nova is getting, and well deserved I must say! Congrats Nova!

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10 2012

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