Buñelos Dågu

If you had to list your favorite Christmas food, what would they be?  I’d have too many to list since I have quite a few favorites, but up near the top would be Buñelos Dågu.

A delicious treat, these fried yam donuts, or Buñelos Dågu in Chamorro, are synonymous with Christmas.  This is perhaps because the yams are harvested during the Christmas season.

There are several varieties of yams that you can use to make these donuts.  If you live on Guam or the other Mariana Islands, you can use Dågu, Nika, or Gadu’.  There are also both White and Red varieties of Dågu (called Dågun Å’paka’ or Dågun Agaga’, respectively).

Donuts made with dågu tend to be brownish in color after frying.  Nika donuts are much lighter, a golden brown on the outside and creamy white in color on the inside.  While I like both types, I prefer Nika donuts.

Living in the states, I found a great substitute for the white yams we know on Guam as Nika. It’s called Nahme (pronounced nah-may) Root in some Asian Stores.  I’ve even seen it called Namee or Nami.  If your local Asian market doesn’t have it, check the Hispanic stores, or ask the store manager to order some for you.

This is what Nahme looks like.

Nahme Root

If you’re lucky, you can find some dågu as well.  They are quite large, and look like monstrous hands with lots of “fingers”.  Here’s a photo of dågu.

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Aside from making donuts with the yams, you can cook them as you would potatoes.  Yams are delicious cooked in a chicken stew or kådu with coconut milk.

You don’t have to wait for Christmas to have these delicious donuts.  Visit your local Asian or Hispanic store and buy some yams then give my recipe a try.  I think you’ll like it. 🙂

Buñelos Dågu

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Ingredients:

  • 2 ­pounds yam (Namee, dagu, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup all-­purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • Oil for frying

Directions:

1.  Heat oil in a frying pan; the oil should come to about 1 inch in depth.

2.  Peel skin off the yam. Using the fine part of a box or hand­held grater, grate the yam into a mixing bowl.

When grating the yam, your skin might be mildly irritated.  The scientific explanation for this is that most yams contain oxalate crystals which can irritate the skin, mouth and sometimes tongue.  I get around this by wearing plastic gloves when I grate the yams.

3.  Mix in the flour, sugar, and baking powder.

4.  Drop batter by heaping tablespoonful into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, turning frequently to ensure even browning on all sides.

Modern conveniences make it so easy to drop the batter into the oil.  Back home on Guam, we’d scoop up a handful of batter then squeeze out dollops between our thumb and pointer.   It sounds difficult, but it’s actually quite easy to squeeze it out from between your fingers. It just takes practice. If you can’t get the hang of forming them this way, use a small ice cream scoop (the 1-tablespoon sized scoop). Dip the scoop in water then scoop out some batter; the batter will slide right out and not stick to the scoop.

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5.  Serve with maple syrup or a simple syrup.

To make a simple syrup: in a microwave safe cup or bowl, mix together 1 cup of sugar with 1/4 cup water.  Microwave on high until the sugar is melted.  Stir thoroughly.  Let the syrup cool slightly before using. 

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ENJOY!

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Baked Brie

It’s a TV marathon night tonight! The lineup includes Survivor, Criminal Minds and CSI, three of my favorite shows.

To add to my TV-watching enjoyment, I baked a wheel of Brie (minus the puff pastry wrapping) topped with store-bought Pineapple Habanero sauce.

Baked Brie

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To make this at home, you’ll need:

  • 1 wheel of good quality brie cheese
  • 1 cup of your favorite jelly or fruit compote
  • Optional:  1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed plus 1 egg, beaten

Directions:

1.  Bake the entire wheel of Brie at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Optional: wrap the Brie in a sheet of puff pastry. Place the wrapped Brie on a pie plate, seam side down, then brush the entire surface with a beaten egg. Bake as stated above.

2.  After baking, top with your favorite jelly or compote–pepper jelly is delicious too.  I bought the pineapple habanero sauce at COSTCO.

3.  Serve with crackers or toasted bagel chips.

Enjoy!

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Note:

Depending on the brand of brie you buy, you can actually eat the rind (the white outer “crust” surrounding the brie).  The brand I buy actually has a very thin rind that is perfectly fine to eat.  Depending on the brand, the rind can taste quite bitter, however.  If you prefer not to eat the rind, use a sharp knife to cut the rind off before wrapping in puff pastry and baking.

Ultra-Moist Banana Bread

My ultra-moist Banana Bread is a must-try when you have extra bananas just laying around and you don’t know what to do with them.

My daughter made this batch (pictured below) with walnuts, but I HIGHLY RECOMMEND adding chocolate chips — OH MY GOSH — talk about taking banana bread to a whole new level!  I usually use semi-sweet chocolate chips, but sometimes I also mix up a combo of semi-sweet, dark, and bittersweet chocolate.  YUM!!!!

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

ULTRA-MOIST BANANA BREAD

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Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese (YES, cream chese!) 🙂
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 small or 2 medium bananas)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  Optional:
  • 1 cup walnut pieces
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup raisins

Directions:

*Note: The photos below show a doubled recipe, which makes 1 medium and 2 small loaves.  A single recipe makes 2 small loaves of bread.

1.  Mash the bananas.

I like letting the bananas ripen to the point where the skin is spotty, like the ones pictured below.  You can’t really tell by the picture, but these bananas are a bit large.  I doubled my recipe and only used three of these bananas.  The other three bananas I’ll freeze for smoothies later. 🙂

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Mash the bananas with a fork.  A rough mash will do.

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2.  Cream the butter and cream cheese.

Place the butter and cream cheese into the mixing bowl.

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Mix until creamy.

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3.  Mix in the brown sugar.

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4.  Mix in the wet ingredients.

Add the eggs.

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Add the mashed bananas.

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Add the vanilla extract.

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Mix until combined.

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5.  Mix in the dry ingredients.

Add the flour.

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Add the salt.

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Add the baking powder.

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Add the baking soda.

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Mix until combined.

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6.  Fold in your optional ingredients (chopped nuts, chocolate chips, raisins).

Place the nuts into a ziplock bag then wrap the bag inside a clean kitchen towel (in case the bag breaks).  My daughter used a small kitchen mallet to pound the nuts into small pieces.

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Fold the nuts (and any other optional ingredients) into the batter.

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7.  It’s time to bake up the yummilicious goodness!

Spray the loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray.  I used the one for baking.

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Fill each pan about half full.  A single recipe makes about two small loaves.  I doubled this recipe, making two small loaves and one medium loaf, filling each pan a little more than half full.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean (a few crumbs sticking to the toothpick are okay).

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8.  Invert the cooled banana bread onto a wire cooling rack.  Let it cool at room temperature then slice, serve and enjoy!

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Ahi Tuna Poke

Poke is a Hawaiian dish traditionally served as an appetizer, but it can also be a main dish when served with rice or corn titiyas.

Modern versions of poke can vary depending on the ingredients you have on hand.  Poke is typically made with cubed ahi tuna marinated with soy sauce (some use sea salt), ground kukui nut (the meat in the inside, though, not the entire nut), sesame oil, ogo seaweed, and hot chili peppers.  You can also use fresh salmon or octopus instead of ahi.

Living in Colorado, I don’t have access to a lot of the traditional ingredients like ogo seaweed and kukui nuts, so I created a different version of poke that my family — especially my 11 year old daughter — loves.

It’s a simple recipe that you can take to entirely new levels by adding the other optional ingredients I listed below.

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

Poke

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Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ahi tuna
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons kimchee base
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 6 stalks green onions, thinly sliced
  Optional Ingredients:
  • 1 small cucumber, diced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, diced
  • 1 small sweet onion (Maui onions are good), diced
  • 2 tablespoons furikake seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons ground macadamia nuts (if you can’t find or don’t have access to kukui nuts)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Hot chili peppers or Sambal Oelek chili sauce, to taste
  • You can also substitute the tuna with salmon or octopus

Directions:

1.  Cut the ahi into small cubes.  I find it’s easier to slice the ahi when it’s partially frozen.

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2.  Add the sesame oil.

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3.  Add the kimchee base (you can use a chili sauce like Sambal Oelek if you can’t find kimchee base).

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4.  Add the soy sauce.

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5.  Add the green onions.

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6.  Stir to combine.  Let the poke sit for at least 30 minutes (refrigerated) to allow the flavors to meld.

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7.  Serve with hot white rice or freshly made corn titiyas (tortillas).  The photo below shows the ahi tuna poke (on the bottom right of the plate) and ahi tuna sashimi (that’s another recipe, to be posted soon) on the bottom left.

ENJOY!!

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Coconut Candy

Coconut candy is an island dessert that’s so simple to make, and fun to get the kids involved in making it.

Growing up, we’d make this a lot during Chamorro Week at school.  This was also a popular treat at bake sales; coconut candy was usually the first item to sell out.

Freshly grated coconut is a key ingredient, but you can easily substitute it with frozen grated coconut.  Just be sure NOT to use the sweetened coconut flakes.  I love the taste of coconut, but to me, the best part of this candy is the caramelized sugar (yum!).

Give my recipe a try…get the kids involved in making them too.  I’m sure they’d love making AND eating it. 🙂

Coconut Candy

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Ingredients:

  • 2 large coconuts
  • 2 cups white, granulated sugar

Directions:

1.  Finely grate the coconut; the smaller/finer the coconut flakes, the better.  You should get roughly 4 cups of grated coconut from 2 large coconuts.  If you can’t find fresh coconuts or don’t have a kåmyu (coconut grater), you can buy frozen grated coconut–make sure you use the UNsweetened kind.

Coconut Candy - 01

Before continuing with the directions, I think it’s important to explain how to choose fresh coconuts.  On Guam, we either cut the coconuts off the trees or pick up the brown ones (niyok) off the ground, then shake them vigorously, listening for the telltale sloshing of the coconut juice.  If you live in the states, it’s sometimes difficult to find coconuts that haven’t already spoiled.  For this batch, I actually bought four coconuts knowing I only needed two.  Sure enough, two of them ended up being spoiled and moldy inside.  Before buying coconuts, shake them.  You should hear (and feel) liquid sloshing around inside.  If you don’t hear and feel any liquid while shaking the coconut, do NOT buy it–it’s gone bad already.  The coconut should also feel rather heavy.  A coconut that either has very little liquid sloshing around or feels light (compared to the weight of other coconuts) are an indicator that the coconut meat inside is dried out or spoiled.

The coconuts I bought–the ones that ended up being bad–had liquid in them when I shook them.  However, the coconuts must have sat in the store for who knows how long. In one of the coconuts, the liquid smelled sour (a sure sign of spoilage) and the meat felt slimy (yuck).  The other bad coconut, after cracking it open, had mold growing between the meat and shell (more yuck!).  And to think I paid about $2 for each coconut….

For those of you living on Guam or in a place where coconut trees abound and you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for them, be thankful.  Ahh…how I miss those days when I could just go out to the back yard and husk open coconuts that just fell off the trees.

Anyhow, on to making coconut candy.

2.  Caramelize the sugar.

Place the sugar into a large frying pan set over low heat.

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Leave the sugar alone until you see it begin to melt.

Using a heavy duty spoon or heat-safe rubber spatula, scrape the sugar from the edge of the pan to the middle.  You’re doing this for a couple of reasons — first, you want to keep the melted sugar from browning too fast and burning.  Second, you’re moving the unmelted sugar to the hotter spots on the pan to begin melting.

The photo below shows a bit of clumping of unmelted and melted sugar.  Don’t worry if yours looks like this — keep cooking the sugar over low heat and those clumps will melt right out.

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Keep cooking (and stirring) over low heat…

…and…cooking/stirring…

…and cooking/stirring some more.

Whew!  FINALLY the sugar is melted with a nice caramel color.  Use the back of your spoon to smush any stray lumps of sugar (like the ones shown below).

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3.  Add the coconut to the caramelized sugar.

The sugar will solidify after adding the coconut, but don’t worry, the sugar will re-melt.

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This is what the mixture looks like, with the sugar hardening after adding the coconut.

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Keep cooking the coconut-sugar mixture over low heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar re-melts. Turn off the heat once the sugar is melted again.  Stir the mixture one last time to evenly mix the sugar and coconut together.

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4.  Form the candy.

Using a couple of tablespoons (I used a small cookie scoop), scoop small amounts of coconut candy onto a piece of waxed or parchment paper.

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Let the candy cool for a couple of minutes, then use your impeccably clean hands to roll the candy into balls.  Wrap each ball of candy with plastic wrap.  The candy will keep for about 2 weeks (at room temperature), but I highly doubt they’ll last that long (before it gets devoured).  ENJOY! 🙂

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