Archive for CHAMORRO DISHES

Spinach with Coconut Milk

This is a classic Chamorro dish that is a staple on most fiesta menus.

The traditional dish is called Gollai Hågun Suni, made with taro leaves rather than spinach.  I still remember watching my mom make this dish the traditional way.  She’d use a machete to cut a huge stack of taro leaves growing in our back yard.  After rinsing each leaf, mom would stack then roll them up, cigar-like, then cut the leaves into thin ribbons.  Mom then placed the taro leaves into a large pot filled with some water,  cooking them long and over low heat so that the leaves can cook down and tenderize before adding freshly pounded orange ginger or turmeric (we used a hammer back in the day to pulverize the ginger root), freshly squeezed coconut milk, the juice of lemons picked from mom’s tree, and diced hot peppers from the plants growing by the door to the outside kitchen.

In this day and age, convenience (and making necessary substitutions due to not having traditional ingredients readily available) dictates using spinach leaves rather than traditional taro in this recipe.  I buy frozen spinach that’s cooked and chopped — it saves so much time.  Just defrost and drain the spinach leaves, add the rest of the ingredients, heat, and serve!  What normally takes several hours if prepared the old Chamorro way now takes minutes.

Give my recipe a try.  It’s a great addition to your Chamorro fiesta menu. 🙂

Spinach with Coconut Milk

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Ingredients:

  • 3 (10-oz.) packages frozen, cooked, and chopped spinach
  • 3 cans coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt, more or less, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder (you can use fresh onions, just saute them until the onions are softened)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon powder (or use freshly squeezed lemon juice), more or less, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper paste or diced hot peppers, optional (add more or less, to taste)

Directions:

1. Place the frozen spinach in a colander (then place the colander inside a larger bowl) to thaw the spinach and allow any water to drain. After the spinach is completely thawed, squeeze the spinach to get rid of as much water as you can. Place the fully drained/squeezed spinach into a medium-sized pot.

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2.  Add the coconut milk, turmeric, salt, onion powder, lemon powder, and hot pepper to the pot. Stir to combine the ingredients.

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3. Cook the spinach over low heat, just until heated through. Do NOT bring the mixture to a boil or the coconut milk will start to separate.

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4. Taste and add adjust the amount of salt, lemon power or juice, and hot pepper to your liking.  Serve and ENJOY!

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Escabeche

Escabeche is a dish made with fried fish and vegetables with a ginger-vinegar sauce. It’s usually prepared for special occasions, but since we’re in the middle of the Lenten season, this is a great dish to prepare for meatless Friday meals.

The traditional Chamorro version uses tuba vinegar and orange ginger (mango’, in Chamorro). I prefer using fresh ginger for this dish, but I rarely find it in the Asian stores where I live. Ground tumeric makes a great substitute for fresh ginger.

I remember how my mom would go to the back yard and pull up some orange ginger roots. She’d clean and peel the ginger, place the pieces in heavy duty aluminum foil, then she’d pound the heck out of the ginger with a hammer. 😉

I love fried fish, and this dish is usually made with fried fish. I’m trying to eat healthier these days, so I opted to bake instead of fry my fish. Use any good white fish like tilapia, parrot fish, or one of my favorites–orange roughy.

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

Escabeche

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Ingredients:

  • 1 large broccoli head, cut into little “trees” about 3 inches long
  • 1 medium cabbage, cut into large pieces (I like using Chinese cabbage for this dish)
  • 1 large eggplant or 4 medium long (Japanese or Chinese) eggplants, sliced lengthwise, 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 to 4 cups water
  • 1 to 1 1/3 cups white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (plus more for seasoning the fish)
  • 6 to 8 teaspoons tumeric (plus more for seasoning the fish)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 3 pounds white fish (tilapia and orange roughy are good for this dish)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • Black pepper, about a teaspoon
  • Optional: Other vegetables of your choosing, like sliced onions or leafy greens

Directions:

Place a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. I have a 14″ skillet that I love to use for making fried rice, stir-fried dishes, or making dishes like escabeche. You want a fairly large pot that is wide across the top so that you can somewhat steam the vegetables, not boil them.

Pour 1 cup of water into the pan and bring it to a boil.
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Add 1/2 teaspoon salt to the boiling water.
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Add the broccoli to the pan.
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Pour 1/3 cup of vinegar into the pan.
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Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of tumeric over the broccoli.
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Use a pair of tongs to gently stir the mixture around in the pan, just until the tumeric is mixed into the liquid.
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Cook the broccoli just until it is slightly wilted, or cooked to your liking. Place the broccoli into a medium sized mixing bowl, leaving the tumeric sauce in the pan.
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If you don’t have much liquid in the pan, add another cup of water and 1/3 cup of vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2 more teaspoons of tumeric. Bring the liquid back up to a boil then add the cabbage leaves.
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Use the tongs to turn the cabbage, evenly coating each leaf in tumeric sauce. Cook until the leaves begin to wilt.
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Place the cooked cabbage into the bowl of broccoli, leaving the liquid in the pan once again.
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As with the step before, if you don’t have much liquid in the pan, add another cup of water, 1/3 cup vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 2 more teaspoons tumeric.

Bring the liquid to a boil then add the sliced eggplant to the pan. Turn the heat down to medium low (the eggplant takes longer to cook and your liquid may dry up completely as the eggplant cooks). Cook the eggplant for about 4 minutes then flip the slices over and cook the other side for another 4 minutes (or cook until the eggplant softens).
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When the eggplant is done, remove it from the pan and place it into the bowl with the other cooked vegetables.
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Repeat this process (of cooking the vegetables) for any remaining vegetables you are adding to the dish (like onions or kangkun leaves).

If your liquid dries up, add another cup of water, 1/3 cup vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons tumeric. Add the garlic to the pan. Turn the heat back up to medium high. Cook the garlic sauce for a couple of minutes.
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Pour the sauce over the cooked vegetables. Set aside until the fish is done.
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Prepare the fish.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the fish filets on a large rimmed baking sheet.
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Sprinkle salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and tumeric on both sides of the fish. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Use a fork to check for doneness (the fish should flake easily with a fork).
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When the fish is done, it’s time to layer the escabeche.

In the bottom of a 9×13 pan, place a even layer of eggplant, half of the cabbage leaves and broccoli.
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Carefully place each of the baked fish filets on top of the bottom layer of vegetables.
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I don’t have a photo of these next steps (I don’t know how I forgot to take photos!), but layer the remaining vegetables on top of the layer of fish.

Pour any remaining sauce over the vegetables.

While you can eat this immediately, this dish is best if made the day before and allowed to “marinate” overnight. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil then place in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to meld.

The next day, after all the sauce soaked into the fish and vegetables, the escabeche is now perfect and ready to enjoy. Reheat individual portions, or bake the entire pan (covered with foil) at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.

Serve with hot steamed rice and fina’denne’. ENJOY!
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Red Rice made with Brown Rice

My family is making a concerted effort to develop healthier eating habits. We’re making small changes in the foods we eat as well as how we prepare them.

One change we definitely like is that we’ve made the switch from white to brown rice. I admit, it took some getting used to, but we actually like it. Of course, I have to season the brown rice whenever I cook it.

I wanted to see if the classic Chamorro Red Rice would taste good using brown rice instead of the usual white medium or long grain rice we know and love.

The result? Delicious! Granted, you can definitely tell you’re eating brown rice (it’s firmer and a bit nuttier than white), but delicious nonetheless.

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

Red Rice made with Brown Rice

aka Red Brown Rice 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups brown rice (use your rice cooker cup)
  • 6 1/3 cups water (use your rice cooker cup) (*See note below)
  • 1 packet achote powder (*See note below)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Dashida seasoning (or salt, to taste)

Note: You can use achote water made with achote seeds instead of achote powder. Scrub the seeds in the water; strain out the seeds before using.

Directions:

1. Rinse the rice then place into your rice cooker pot.

2. Add the water.

3. Add the achote powder.

4. Add the olive oil.

5. Add the green onions.

6. Add the Dashida seasoning.

7. Cover the pot then turn it on or place it on “cook.” After about 5 minutes, open up the lid and stir the rice, ensuring the achote powder and Dashida seasoning are dissolved and evenly distributed. Place the cover back on the pot and let it finish cooking. After your rice cooker turns from “cook” to “warm” (or the equivalent for your rice cooker model), be sure to keep the lid closed, letting the rice continue steaming for 10-15 minutes before serving.

8. We love red rice with fried chicken and cucumber salad. Serve with your favorite main dish(es) and enjoy!

 

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Red Rice

Red Rice is a must-have for any Chamorro Fiesta menu.  Without red rice, it just won’t seem much like a fiesta.

You don’t need to go to a party or fiesta to enjoy this Chamorro staple.  My family loves red rice served with fried chicken, or pan-fried Spam. 🙂

Some people add peas to their red rice, but I like mine without it.

Serve some Chamorro Red Rice at your next gathering for that extra special touch.

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

Red Rice

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Ingredients:

  • 3 cups rice (medium or long grain)
  • 1 tablespoon Dashida seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon bacon fat (or substitute with olive or vegetable oil)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 4 stalks green onions, sliced
  • 1 packet achote powder (see note below)
  • 3 1/2 cups hot water (see note below)

To make 10 cups of red rice (enough for a small BBQ), use the following measurements:

  • 10 cups rice
  • 3 tablespoons Dashida
  • 3 tablespoons bacon fat
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 8 stalks green onions, sliced
  • 3 packets achote powder
  • 11 1/2 cups hot water

Note:

You can use achote water made with achote seeds instead of using powdered achote.  Scrub about 1/4 cup of achote seeds in 3 1/2 cups warm water.  Add the achote water (make sure to strain out the seeds and add just the achote water) to the pot where the directions call for adding water and achote powder.

Directions:

1.  Place the rice into your rice cooker pot.  Rinse the rice as required, draining out any excess water.

IMG_31472.  Into the pot, add the Dashida, bacon fat, black pepper, garlic, and achote powder.  If you don’t have any saved bacon fat, substitute with olive or vegetable oil. IMG_31493.  Add the green onions to the pot.   IMG_31504.  Carefully pour the hot water into the pot.  Stir to combine all the ingredients and to dissolve the achote powder and Dashida.  The bacon fat will start to melt; don’t worry if it doesn’t completely melt at this time.

Turn the rice cooker to the “cook” setting.  The only thing left to do is to stir the rice a couple more times.  Wait a couple of minutes then stir to ensure even mixing after the bacon fat melted.  Wait another 5 minutes or so and stir once more to ensure the rice at the bottom of the pot is evenly coated with achote coloring.

After stirring the rice for a second time, leave the rice to cook/steam until done.

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5.  Serve with your favorite meat dish (Chamorro BBQ, fried chicken, or pan-fried Spam goes fantastic with red rice!) and ENJOY! 😀

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Beef Tinaktak

Beef Tinaktak is a delicious Chamorro dish.  It’s one of my favorite comfort foods–I love drowning my rice with the coconut milk kådu (broth).

Tinaktak–I love saying that.  I think the name came from the sound made when pounding pieces of steak with a knife to tenderize it (tak tak tak tak tak).  Well, maybe that’s not really where the name of this dish originated from, but it sounds good, doesn’t it? 🙂

Rather than pounding a piece of steak, you can use minute steak or ground beef in this recipe.

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

Beef Tinaktak

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Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds minute steak, cut into bite sized pieces (or substitute with 3 pounds lean ground beef)
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cans stewed tomatoes, undrained (chop tomatoes into small pieces)
  • 2 cups fresh green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons Dashida seasoning (or salt, to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • donne’ (hot pepper), optional

Directions:

1.  If you’re using fresh green beans, you’re going to want to blanch them first.  Blanching means to put vegetables into a pot of boiling water, let it cook for a few minutes, then remove the vegetables and immediately place them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

Here’s how it’s done.

In a large pot, bring about 5 cups of water to a rapid boil over high heat. Add enough salt so the water tastes faintly salty. While the water heats, fill a medium sized bowl about three quarters full with ice, then add enough cold water to cover the top of the ice.

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When the water is boiling and the ice bath is ready, trim the green beans to the size you need. It’s best to trim them just prior to cooking so they won’t oxidize or dehydrate. Add the beans to the boiling water in batches small enough to ensure that the water doesn’t lose its boil. Boil the beans only until they’re barely cooked through but still tender. To test, remove one piece with a slotted spoon, dip it into the ice bath to cool, and eat it.

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As soon as the beans are done, remove them as fast as you can and submerge them in the ice bath. Remove them from the ice bath as soon as they are no longer warm.  Set aside.

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2.  In a medium-sized pan, sauté the meat, onions and garlic over medium high heat; cook until meat is browned and onions are translucent.

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3.  Add tomatoes to the meat mixture, juice and all.

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4.  Add the blanched vegetables to the meat and tomatoes mixture.

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5.  Add the Dashida and black pepper.  Stir, taste, and adjust the seasonings if needed.

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6.  Slowly stir in the coconut milk; lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until the coconut milk is heated (do not boil).

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7. Add donne’ if desired.  Serve over hot rice (steamed white or brown) and ENJOY!

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