Åhu

Åhu is a sweet and warm soup of sorts, and is a very popular dessert drink on Guam.  It’s one of the first things I make when I go home for visits.

While you can make this dish using frozen månha (the meat from young coconuts) and the juice from the månha, there is nothing like using the real thing.

This delicious and sweet drink is thickened by the månha dumplings, made by mixing pureed månha, sugar and tapioca starch.  The dumplings — I call them lumps — cook in boiling hot månha juice until they float to the surface indicating they are done.

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It doesn’t take long to cook up a huge pot of åhu.  What DOES take long, however, is cutting down a bunch of månha, cutting them open and collecting the juice, then scraping the meat.

Here’s an entertaining (at least I think so) video of the guys working hard at harvesting the månha for us. 🙂

I’ll bet many of you didn’t know there are some species of coconut that are orange when young, not just the common green ones.

My sister and I recruited the men to do the gathering with the promise we’ll do the cooking.  They eventually enjoyed the fruits of our labor and relaxed with a huge cupful of delicious åhu. 🙂

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After draining out the juice, cut open the månha and scrape out the meat.  Be careful not to scrape out any of the husk if you can help it.  The månha meat is very tender; it doesn’t take much effort to scrape it out of the shell.

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After you’ve collected the juice and meat, it’s time to get cooking.  Place the månha juice into a large pot.  You don’t need much juice to get great tasting åhu.  You can use all juice or a mixture of juice and water.  My dad likes to drink the månha juice so when my sister and I made this, we diluted it by mixing 8 cups of månha juice with 8 cups of water, saving the rest of the juice for dad.

If the juice is sweet, you don’t need much sugar.  We added about 3 cups of sugar to all that liquid.  Add a cup at a time and taste as you go, adding as much sugar as you like.

Bring the liquid to a slow boil while you make the månha dumpling mixture.

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Place the månha in a food processor.  Use more månha if you like lots of “lumps” — we used 4 cups of månha (my family likes lots of lumps) for a large pot of åhu.

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Process the månha until it’s smooth and creamy.

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Add the entire bag of tapioca starch to the pureed månha.  Save the rest of the tapioca starch in case you need to thicken the åhu liquid later or to add more to the månha-starch mixture (more on this later).

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Add sugar to the månha-starch mixture.  You don’t need much since you’ve already sweetened the liquid.  The amount of sugar also depends on how sweet the månha meat is.  This batch of månha was very sweet so we added just one cup of sugar.  The mixture will be very thick, thicker than cake batter.

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Drop small dollops of the batter into the boiling liquid.  Do a test batch first to taste if it’s sweet enough.  Add more sugar if you want it sweeter.

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The lumps will float to the top of the pot when done.  If the lumps break apart during the cooking, that means you need to add more starch.  Add a few spoonfuls at a time, then cook a test batch to make sure they stay intact.

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This recipe makes a LOT of lumps — just the way my brother likes it.  The starch in the lumps also serves to thicken the åhu.  Let the mixture cook over low heat for a few minutes after all of the lumps are done.  If, after a few minutes, the liquid is not thickening, mix any reserved tapioca starch with a cup of water; stir the mixture into the åhu and cook for a few more minutes until thickened.

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Serve while still hot and ENJOY! 🙂

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Åhu
 
A warm, sweet dessert drink made from the juice and meat of young green coconuts.
Author:
Cuisine: Chamorro
Ingredients
Liquid
  • 8 cups Månha juice
  • 8 cups water
  • 3 cups sugar, more or less, to taste
Dumplings
  • 4 cups månha meat, pureed
  • 1½ (15 oz) bags tapioca starch
  • 1 cup sugar
Instructions
  1. Place the månha, juice, and sugar in a large pot. Bring to a boil over low heat.
  2. Mix together the pureed månha, one bag of starch (reserve the remaining half bag), and sugar to form the batter for the dumplings.
  3. Drop the batter into the boiling liquid by the teaspoonful. The dumplings will float to the top when done. If the dumplings break apart during cooking, add a couple of tablespoons more starch to the dumpling mixture. "Test cook" a few dumplings to ensure they don't break apart and is sweet enough. If the dumplings still break apart during cooking, add a couple more tablespoons of starch.
  4. After all of the dumplings are done, check to see if the åhu is thick enough for your liking. It should be the consistency of not-too-thick gravy. If you'd like it thicker, mix any remaining starch with 1 cup water; stir the mixture into the hot åhu. Cook for a few more minutes until the åhu thickens.
Serve while still hot and ENJOY! 🙂

Potu

Potu is a sweet steamed rice cake that’s a Chamorro favorite.  It’s traditionally made using sweet tuba, a Chamorro beverage made from fermenting (like wine) coconut juice.  Rice is soaked overnight in the tuba then ground into a super-fine consistency the next day.  The mixture is sweetened and steamed into these amazingly delicious rice cakes.

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When I was younger, I usually only had potu when we went to parties or (I don’t mean to be morbid) at rosaries.  My late aunt used to make potu as well.  I remember those sleepovers at her house —  Auntie Frances had the entire kitchen and dining room filled with tubs of soaking rice and pans of potu ready for delivery.  Ahh…those were the good ‘ole days.

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This is my friend, Judy Dillinger’s recipe.  Being away from home, I definitely don’t have access to a lot of home-grown ingredients, tuba being one of them.  Judy’s recipe makes use of readily available ingredients that you can find in almost any grocery store.  It’s also quick and easy, using rice flour instead of soaking rice overnight.

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If you’d like to try another of my friend’s Potu recipes, take a look at this one by my friend, Rose Camacho.

I’ve made both recipes and I will tell you they are both equally delicious and definitely tried-and-true.

Give Judy’s or Rose’s recipes a try.  I think you’ll like them.

Here’s how to make Judy’s Potu.

Events - 017You’ll need to find rice flour that is NOT glutinous.  The label will tell you whether it’s glutinous or not.  The glutinous kind will NOT work for potu.  Glutinous rice flour is made by grinding sweet rice, which is very sticky when cooked.  The NON-glutinous rice flour (the kind you need for potu) is made by grinding short or medium-grain rice.

This is a photo of the brand of rice flour I used.  There are many different brands; make sure the label states non-glutinous.rice flour

I’ve also used this brand of rice flour (the red bag, pictured on the right).  Notice that the green bag clearly states “Glutinous.”  If you’re familiar with mochi, glutinous rice flour is used to make mochi.  Again, for potu, you want to use NON-glutinous rice flour.

Events - 0545As I mentioned above, tuba is not available here in the states, unless you have a friend or family member visiting from home bring you some.  An easy substitute for tuba in this recipe is coconut vinegar.  You only need a little bit of vinegar.  Judy’s recipe calls for four tablespoons mixed with enough water to make one cup of liquid.  I actually cut the amount of vinegar in half because it’s quite pungent.  This is the brand of coconut vinegar I use.

Mix the vinegar with enough water to make one cup of liquid.  I only used two tablespoons of vinegar, but Judy’s recipe calls for four.  It’s all up to you, really, on how much vinegar to use.  Remember, a little goes a long way.

Mix the rice flour, sugar and baking powder with the vinegar-water mixture.  Let the mixture sit for a few minutes — it will get very bubbly.

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Pour the batter into molds, filling them almost to the top.  I’ve used silicone molds, little glass cups and the silicone molds lined with mini cupcake paper liners, all with success.

Place the molds into your steamer basket before filling — it’s easier than trying to place full cups into the basket without spilling any batter.

Events - 020Place the steamer basket into the steamer.  Place a clean kitchen towel or cheesecloth beneath the lid to keep the condensation from dripping back onto the potu.

Events - 023Steam for about 20 minutes.  The tell-tale crack on top indicates the potu is done.  Let the potu cool for a few minutes before removing from the molds.  Serve and ENJOY! 🙂

 

Potu
 
A sweet steamed rice cake that's light and fluffy and easy to prepare.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Chamorro
Serves: 2½ dozen
Ingredients
  • 1 cup rice flour (make sure it's NOT glutinous rice flour)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons vinegar mixed with water to equal 1 cup of liquid (OR use 1 cup sweet tuba)
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and let it sit for about 15 minutes.
  2. Pour the mixture into miniature molds and steam for about 15-20 minutes.

 

 

 

Caramel Apple Cake

Fall is probably my favorite season because of all of the yummy fall fruits that abound this time of year.  Apples are in full season right now, and rather than wonder what to make with them, how about you bake my friend, Vikki’s Caramel Apple Cake?

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This cake is incredibly moist, and the thick batter suspends chunks of sweet apple so that they don’t sink to the bottom of the cake during baking.  You get a taste of sweet apple and cinnamony (my new word) goodness in every bite.

My husband took some cake to work and shared it with his boss, who said this was the best apple cake he’s ever had. (Thanks, Vikki!) 🙂

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This cake is screaming your name…wait, it’s screaming MY name.  I need to make another one.  My family devoured the one I made the other night.  It’s that good.

Let’s get to it.

Whisk the oil and sugar together in a large mixing bowl.

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Whisk the eggs into the sugar-oil mixture.

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Add the vanilla extract, apple pie spice, salt and baking powder; whisk to combine.

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Add the flour to the bowl.  This batter is very thick.  Use a spatula to fold in the flour.

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See how thick the batter is?  My spatula is standing straight up in the batter.

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Fold in the chopped apples.  You can’t tell from the photo, but I cut the apples very small and relatively thin to ensure they cook through during baking, but not too small that they turn to mush.  I used Honeycrisp Apples in this recipe, which I recommend you use as well.  They are sweet, crisp apples that hold up to baking.  The apples were still somewhat firm after baking, but cooked through (not over cooked at all).

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Pour the batter into a greased baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes or until it tests done (insert a knife or skewer into the middle; it should come out clean).

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While the cake is baking, make the caramel sauce.

Place the butter, brown sugar, and milk in a small sauce pan over low heat.

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Whisk occasionally, cooking until the butter and sugar melt and the sauce thickens.

Don’t make the glaze until right before the cake is done, however.  The sauce thickens as it cools, so make it just minutes before the cake is done so that it’s thin enough to drizzle.

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Drizzle the caramel glaze all over the top of the cake.

This is wonderful just as you see it below, but if you want to take it over the top, add a huge dollop of whipped cream and you’ll be in caramel apple heaven! 🙂

Vikki says this cake freezes well.  All you’ll need to do is defrost the cake at room temperature then make up a fresh pot of caramel sauce to drizzle over the cake just before serving.

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Cut yourself a huge slice of this sinfully delicious cake, serve and ENJOY!

Doesn’t that caramel sauce make you want to run your finger across that plate, scoop up some sauce, and lick your finger?  😉

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Caramel Apple Cake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A super moist cake with chunks of sweet apples and a luscious caramel glaze
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
CAKE:
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1½ cups vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1½ teaspoons apple pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 medium apples, peeled and finely chopped
CARAMEL GLAZE:
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons milk
Instructions
Make the Cake:
  1. Mix the sugar and oil together in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the eggs, vanilla extract, apple pie spice, salt and baking soda.
  3. Fold in the flour.
  4. Fold in the chopped apples.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes or until the cake tests done.
Make the Glaze:
  1. Cook the glaze in a small sauce pan on the stove, just until the butter and sugar melt and the sauce thickens.
  2. Pour the glaze over individual pieces or over the entire cake while it's still warm.
NOTE: I used Honey Crisp Apples (2 of them) -- I recommend them for this recipe. The apples stayed somewhat firm during the baking; they were definitely cooked through, and I liked that the apples didn't become mushy after baking.

 

Daigo’ Kimchi with Rokkyo & Pickled Garlic

This is a very simple salad or side dish made with pickled daikon radish, pearl onions, and garlic.  This is not a dish you want to eat before venturing out into public…your pores will exude an odor that is guaranteed to chase away even the scariest of vampires.

Daigo’ (pickled daikon radish), Rokkyo’ (pickled pearl onions) and pickled garlic are popular snacks on Guam.  Visit your local village store and you’re likely to see large jars filled with these pickled delights for sale.

imageTo make an easy kimchi, mix together Kimchee Base and white vinegar, adding it to the bowl of mixed vegetables.

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Let the mixture marinate for about 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to develop.  Serve and ENJOY! 🙂

 

Daigo' Kimchi with Rokkyo & Pickled Garlic
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 package sliced pickled daikon radish
  • 1 small package (about 2 cups) pickled pearl onions
  • 1 small package (about 1 cup) pickled garlic
  • ¼ cup Kimchee Base
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • Hot pepper, optional
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients together.
  2. Let the mixture marinate for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
Serve and ENJOY!

 

 

Braised Oxtail Soup

Don’t let the name of this dish turn you off.  Oxtail, as the name describes, was commonly the meaty part of the tail of an ox.  Nowadays, they are cut from the tails of cattle.  Oxtail is quite meaty, but it requires a long and slow braising to tenderize the tough meat.

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You can cut the cooking time down several hours by using a pressure cooker.  I prefer braising the oxtail long and slow, however, which helps to develop an incredibly rich broth.

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Look for oxtail with a lot of meat and not much fat.  Rinse the oxtail then trim off as much fat as you can.  This is what I trimmed off from 5 packages of oxtail (with about 4 oxtails per package).

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The richness of your broth starts by browning the oxtail.  I did this in batches so that I could turn each oxtail over to ensure even browning.  Browning creates amazingly delicious flavor compounds that ultimately gives the resulting dish an extremely rich, deep flavor.  Don’t skip the browning process; trust me.

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The next step to developing that incredibly rich flavor is to brown your aromatics.  Do this BEFORE adding any liquid.

Add onions, garlic and black pepper to the pot.  Do this when you have just one layer of oxtail in the pot.  Set the rest of the browned oxtail aside for now; you’ll add it back to the pot in a few minutes.  Cook the onions just to the point where they become a golden brown and begin to caramelize.

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Now the magic begins.  Add the rest of the oxtail back into the pot then pour in enough water to completely cover the oxtail.  Place a lid on the pot and cook over medium-low heat.  If you decide to braise the oxtail long and slow, plan ahead as this will take several hours — I braised mine for about 5 1/2 hours over a slow boil.

A note about boiling meat:  As meat boils, a foamy substance forms on the surface.  This is called scum.  The scum is denatured protein.  It is harmless, and eventually the foam breaks up and disperses into the stock.  Although harmless (and flavorless), the scum leaves the broth gray and cloudy.  Every so often, skim the surface, removing the scum.

Every 30 minutes or so, at about the same time you skim the scum off the broth, check to ensure the level of liquid stays above the meat.  Add enough water to maintain the level of liquid above the oxtail.  Keep doing this for the first three hours.

After hour number three of braising, add my secret ingredient (shhh…don’t tell anyone):  half a bottle of marsala wine.  Marsala wine adds deep, savory notes to the broth.  After adding the wine, if the level of liquid is still not above the meat, add more water.  Continue to cook over medium-low heat for another two hours.

After five hours of braising, taste the broth.  Add salt and pepper, to taste.  Instead of salt, I like adding a few tablespoons of Dashida seasoning.  If you can’t find Dashida (a Korean beef-flavored powdered seasoning), use beef bouillon.  Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking.

Add your favorite vegetables during this last 30 minutes of cooking.  Sometimes I add potatoes and carrots, or squash (a favorite).  Baby bok choy is another favorite.  Squash cooks quickly, so add it last to prevent overcooking them.  Baby bok choy cooks in just a few scant minutes, so add them at the very end, just before serving.

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Serve over hot white rice with a good amount of broth and ENJOY! 🙂

Give my recipe a try.  I think you’ll like it.

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Braised Oxtail Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: Serves 4-6
Ingredients
  • 15-20 pieces of oxtail, excess fat trimmed off
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Water, enough to completely cover the oxtail
  • ½ bottle marsala wine, about 2 cups
  • 4 tablespoons Dashida seasoning (or powdered beef bouillon)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 medium squash, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 12 baby bok choy
Instructions
  1. Brown the oxtail in batches over medium-high heat (brown one layer of oxtail at a time). Set the browned oxtail aside.
  2. Add the onions, garlic and black pepper to the pot. Cook until the onions begin to caramelize.
  3. Return all of the oxtail to the pot. Add enough water to cover the oxtail. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low; simmer for 5½ hours, skimming the scum off the surface periodically. Keep the water level above the meat throughout the braising.
  4. After three hours of simmering, add the wine to the pot. Simmer for 2½ more hours.
  5. Add the Dashida. Taste the broth then add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Add any vegetables last, cooking until the vegetables are done to your liking.
Serve and ENJOY!

 

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