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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One comment

  1. Dee says:

    Hi!Thanks for sharing this recipe especially PoPs.It looks so mouth watering, I just can’t wait to make it!I remember my dad, loving known as “Papa Frank”, would make these shaped like mini meatloaves wrapped in foil and steamed along side his famous roast chicken and custard pie.

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