Archive for Pedro “PoP” Aguon

Chicken Drumstick Motsiyas

Motsiyas (pronounced mot-see-jas) is a delicacy on Guam.  It consists of a basic mixture of finely chopped or ground chicken (traditional recipes include most of the chicken parts, but I like just the meat, no organs), hot pepper leaves, tomato leaves, green beans, mint, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  You can also add other leafy greens to the mixture, as my friend, Arlene Sablan Aguon does (see her list of ingredients below).  To spice it up, add chopped chili peppers.  

The ingredients are then mixed together then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed in either water or chicken broth, and sometimes even in coconut milk.  

The recipe below is one of PoP Aguon’s treasured recipes, and the technique used to make them is a PoP Aguon original.  Wrapped in around the bone of a Chicken Drumstick with the skin surrounding it, this is a LABOR INTENSIVE recipe that requires that you de-bone and remove the meat and tendons of the chicken drumsticks, mix the multiple ingredients, then fill it back into the drumstick cavity.  It’s all worth it in the end, trust me.

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

Chicken Drumstick Motsiyas

Recipe adapted by Annie Merfalen
Original recipe by Arlene Sablan Aguon (as taught by PoP Aguon)
Photos by Arlene Sablan Aguon

Chicken Drumstick Motsiyas 1


  • 4 pounds Chicken Drumsticks with Skin intact and not torn
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice, about 3/4 cup
  • 2 cups minced fresh mint
  • 2 cups thinly slices long beans or green beans
  • 2 cups diced baby bok choy
  • 4 cups diced mustard greens or spinach leaves
  • 1 cup diced white onions
  • 1 cup thinly diced green onions
  • 1/3 cup diced fresh Guam donne’ or Thai bird pepper (optional)
  • 4 cups chicken broth


Debone the Drumsticks:
  1. Cut the chicken around the meaty part at the top of the drumstick (at the joint where the drumstick joins the thigh), loosening the meat from the bone in that area. Insert a pair of kitchen scissors or a small sharp knife as close to the bone as possible, cutting away the meat.  Be careful not to cut the skin around the drumstick.
  2. Slowly work your way down the drumstick, cutting and separating the meat from the bone.
  3. When you get to the bottom of the drumstick, turn the meat and skin inside out (be careful not to pull or cut the skin off!), then cut off the meat at the bottom, leaving the skin attached to the bone.
  4. Carefully pull your drumstick skin over the cleaned bone away from the knuckle. Place the drumstick meat in a resealable bag for later use.  You will not use the drumstick meat because of the tendons and ligaments (reserve and use for Kådun Pika later).
  5. Refrigerate the drumsticks (with skin intact) until you’re ready to stuff them.
Prepare the Motsiyas filling:
  1. Place the mint, beans, bok choy, mustard greens or spinach leaves, white onions, and green onions into a large mixing bowl.  Add the hot pepper if you want it spicy.
  2. Coarsely grind the chicken thigh and breast meat in a meat grinder, if you have one.  You can also coarsely chop or grind the chicken meat in a food processor.
  3. Mix the ground chicken and chopped vegetables together. Refrigerate the mixture overnight so the flavors can mix and marinate together.
The Next Day:
  1. Place the chicken broth into a rice cooker (placed on the “warm” setting).  You can also this on the stove top with a pot that has steaming baskets (heat the broth over medium-low heat).
  2. Add the salt, pepper and freshly squeezed lemon juice to the chicken mixture.
  3. Carefully pull back the drumstick chicken skin away from the knuckle. Shape your Motsiyas around the drumstick bone, carefully packing the filling into the skin and shaping it back into drumstick form.  Insert a wooden toothpick into the skin at the top of the drumstick to secure the skin while it cooks.
Cook the Motsiyas:
  1. Place the Motsiyas drumsticks into the steaming basket that comes with your rice cooker or steaming pot.
  2. If using a rice cooker, set it on COOK – the chicken broth will steam the Motsiyas.  If using a stove top steamer, turn the heat to medium-high, bringing the broth to a boil.  Place the steamer basket into the pot.  Cover the pot (or rice cooker) and steam for 20 minutes.
  3. Note: If you like your Motsiyas WET, you can place the drumsticks directly into the broth.
  4. If you like a crisp texture to the skin, bake the Motsiyas drumsticks at 375° F. until the skin begins to turn light golden brown (about 25 minutes).  Turn up the heat to 500° F. (or place it on Broil) and cook until the skin is a medium golden brown and the skin is crisp.
Serve and Enjoy!

Serve while still hot with a side of mint, donne’ (pepper) and lemon wedges.

As Arlene says, this is Munngi’-licious!

Other ways to prepare PoP’s Chicken Motsiyas:
Motisiyas 3 - stuffed neck

The traditional way: Stuffed Chicken Neck

Motsiyas 4 - ready for steaming

Fill silicone cups for steaming

Motsiyas 5 - steamed

Steamed Motsiyas

Motsiyas 7 - rice paper 2

Wrap the filling in Rice Paper

Motsiyas 10 - rice paper 5

Steamed Rice Paper Rolls

Motsiyas 11 - rice paper 6

Fried Rice Paper Rolls

Motsiyas 12 - pop 1

+PoP, enjoying his Rice Paper Motsiyas Rolls


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How to Roast a Fresh Pumpkin — a Pedro “PoP” Aguon Tutorial

Pedro “PoP” Aguon was a chef in the Navy. PoP passed down to his family his extensive knowledge of cooking, and his daughter, Arlene Sablan Aguon, is kind enough to share some of PoP’s recipes and cooking tips with us. That was PoP’s way, sharing with the younger generations in order to keep the knowledge of our Chamorro culture and heritage alive. Rest in peace, PoP…your family and friends miss you terribly.

From Arlene:
“My PoP’s taught me how to roast a fresh pumpkin. It makes the best pies, Buchi Buchi & Turnovers. It makes the home smell like Thanksgiving too. ENJOY. ” ~ @untie R

Freshly roasted pumpkin tastes better than any canned pumpkin you buy in stores. Try roasting pumpkins PoP’s way. You’ll be glad you did. 🙂

Roasted Pumpkins ~ A Pop Aguon Tutorial








Roast the pumpkins at 350 degrees.  The roasting time varies based on the size of your pumpkins.  Medium pumpkins can take between 45 minutes to one hour.  Check at the 45-minute mark; the pumpkin flesh should be tender when pierced with a fork.  Continue to roast until tender.









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Pedro “PoP” Aguon’s World Famous Bread Pudding

Pedro Aguon, affectionately known to his family and friends as “PoP”, was a decorated Navy veteran and a Pearl Harbor survivor.

PoP copy


Pedro "PoP" Aguon

Pedro “PoP” Aguon

According to PoP’s daughter, Arlene Sablan Aguon, “PoP was a personal Master Chef for 11 Navy Admirals. One of the admirals was James Morrison (yep, the father of Jim Morrison of the Doors).  This was Jim’s all time favorite dessert that PoP would spoil the family with.  It is famous wherever it is served.  Word has it that a chef in New Orleans actually has PoP’s World Famous Bread Pudding on his 5 Star Restaurant Menu.”

PoP was an inspiration to many, not just for his service to our nation, but for his love of life.  This recipe posting is dedicated to PoP’s memory, and to his desire to keep the Chamorro culture alive through the sharing of one our island’s treasures ~ our food.

Rest in Peace, PoP.  You are greatly missed.


PoP Aguon’s World Famous Bread Pudding

Recipe by Pedro “PoP” Aguon
as shared by his daughter, Arlene Sablan Aguon
PoP Augon's World Famous Bread Pudding

PoP Augon’s World Famous Bread Pudding


PoP’s daughter, Arlene, says this about making PoP’s World Famous Bread Pudding:

“Please note that my father DID NOT measure his ingredients, so I am attempting to record what I saw.  He usually prepared a huge banquet sized pan of pudding for our gatherings so you can downsize as needed.

An IMPORTANT PoP Aguon SECRET:  for 1 cup of cubed bread, use 1 cup whole milk, 1 egg, 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.  This will be the foundation for your bread pudding custard base.”


1 loaf of FRESH bread (white, wheat, whole grain, according to your taste).  Break it down to small 1/2 inch cubes or torn pieces.  Lay the bread pieces in a prepared buttered or Smart Balance/Pam sprayed heavy pan.  (One loaf = 12 cups of bread pieces).

Bread Pudding Base:
  • 12 cups of cubed/torn bread (layered loosely in your pan)
  • 12 large eggs
  • 12 cups of whole milk
  • 1 cup of butter or margarine
  • 1 cup of sugar or more to your taste
  • 1/4 cup of pure vanilla extract (don’t use imitation)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Custard Topping:
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of cornstarch
  • 6 cups of milk
  • 1 cup of softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon or nutmeg
Directions for Bread Pudding Base:

1.  Slowly beat your eggs, butter, salt and gradually add your milk and mix until fully incorporated.  Add your vanilla.  Gently pour your wet custard solution over your bread in the pan.  IMPORTANT:  Do not push down the bread.  Let the bread NATURALLY soak up the wet mixture for at least 15-20 minutes.

2.  Place the pan in a pre-heated oven set at 350 degrees.  Bake for an hour and a half.  Your bread pudding base will puff up to a soufflé texture.  DO NOT PIERCE OR TOUCH!  The soufflé texture will be jiggly.  Remove and set on a rack to cool.  As the bread base cools the soufflé texture will start to compact and settle.

Directions for Custard Topping:

1.  Whip the eggs, sugar, cornstarch, 1 cup of milk, butter, and salt in your blender or with an electric mixer.  Meanwhile, in a heavy saucepan on low heat, warm the rest of your milk on a low setting (DO NOT SCALD your milk on a high setting).  Gradually add your mixture into the warm milk and constantly stir, so your eggs will be tempered.  Stir from the sides and bring to the middle of your saucepan to prevent lumping.

2.  Once the custard starts to thicken and bubble, cook to the desired consistency. PoP did not make his custard thick like Latiya.  He made it a little runny so it will seep into every nook and crevice of the bread pudding base.  Remove from heat and add your vanilla extract.  Cool for at least 15 minutes then pour the custard over the bread pudding base.  Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and ENJOY.


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