Champulådu

There are several Chamorro comfort foods that not only make me feel good right down to my bones, but bring back so many fond memories of growing up on Guam.

Champulådu is one of those dishes.  It’s a porridge of sorts, only made with rice, evaporated milk and CHOCOLATE!  I think that’s why I love it so much — who doesn’t love chocolate?

You don’t need too much rice for this dish.  A little goes a long way since you’ll be cooking the rice until it breaks down and thickens the liquid.

CHAMPULÅDU

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked rice, or 2 cups for a thicker “porridge”
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar

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Cooking Instructions:

1.  Wash the rice and place in a medium sized pot.  Add water and cook over medium high heat.  Keep the pot lit on until the rice begins to boil.

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2.  Once the rice comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low; add cocoa powder, sugar, and milk.

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3.  Whisk to combine all the ingredients.  Continue to cook at a low simmer over medium-low heat for approximately 30 more minutes.  The mixture should thicken considerably during this time.  If it’s too thick for your liking, add more milk then adjust the sugar to taste.  Serve warm and enjoy!

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Grating Fresh Coconuts

When I was a little girl, one of my jobs during party preparations was to kåmyu  (grate) fresh coconuts.  I remember going through a pile of coconuts, shaking each one to ensure there was still coconut water in them (if it didn’t slosh with liquid, that meant it was bad).  I was too young and wasn’t allowed to husk them (we used the pointy end of a pick or a sharpened branch for this task), nor did my mom allow me to use the machete to crack open the coconuts, but I was a pro with the kåmyu!

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This kåmyu (and the photo) belongs to David A. Punzalan.

This wasn’t an easy job–at least not for a young kid about 8 or 10 years old.  I had to make sure I didn’t grate any of the coconut shell or I’d be picking them out of the bowl! The coconut flakes HAD to be nice and snowy white, and grated extra fine, especially if we were mixing it in with kelaguen.

Now that my family and I live in the states, we don’t have easy access to fresh coconuts.  We are at the mercy of what’s imported to our local grocery stores.  I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to come home from the store, crack open a coconut and find that it’s already spoiled.

The coconuts we buy come already husked (not that we own a pick anyway with which to husk them).  We don’t own a machete either, but we make due by using an extremely sharp meat cleaver.

Here is a video of my husband, Roland, using a cleaver to crack open a coconut.  He takes his time doing this, but only because he’s using a cleaver from my rather expensive knife set (he KNOWS not to damage my prized knife set!).  Anyhow, to use a cleaver to crack open a coconut, make small nicks around the middle of the shell until you’ve created a crack.  Hit it a little harder as the crack gets bigger, then carefully pry it apart.  Make sure the coconut water inside is clear and doesn’t smell (cloudy, sour smelling liquid is a sure sign of spoilage).

Have I mentioned that I have a crazy, goofy husband?  He just HAD to throw in his “signature” by messing with my video at the end.  LOL

 

Once you crack open the coconut, pull out your kåmyu and get to work grating.  The video below shows my 11 year old daughter gingerly grating the coconut (she’s still afraid of scraping her hands–but why should she be fearful of a thick piece of stainless steel with multiple sharp, jagged “teeth” sticking out of it?).  🙂

 

You can make lots of things with freshly grated coconut — coconut candy, make fresh-squeezed coconut milk, add it to kelaguen, or toast it for sprinkling over coconut cream pie.  Whatever you use it for, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.  Fresh beats frozen or canned coconut any day.

Chicken Kelaguen with Freshly Grated Coconut

 

“Crack” Chicken

When I was stationed in Korea a few years ago, my family and I used to frequent a fried chicken place that served the most delicious chicken wings.

The menu included spicy (mouth on fire) wings, plain, but our favorite had a garlic-soy glaze on it.  They were so good (and addicting) that my friends and kids nicknamed it “crack chicken”.  🙂

This is my version of those wings.  A word of warning — it’s HEAVY on the garlic (just the way I like it).

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

“CRACK” CHICKEN

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INGREDIENTS FOR THE FRIED CHICKEN:

  • 5 pounds chicken wings (I like drummettes)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup corn starch
  • 4 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup water
  • oil, for frying

INGREDIENTS FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 cups loosely packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped (use 10 cloves if you LOVE garlic like I do)
  • 4 tablespoons corn starch
  • Optional: Pepper flakes

Cooking Instructions:

Make the Sauce:

1. Place the sauce ingredients (except for the cornstarch and 1/2 cup of the water) into a medium sized sauce pan; whisk to combine. Optional: Add pepper flakes (omit if you do not want your sauce to be spicy).

2. Cook over medium high heat until the mixture begins to boil. Reduce the heat to low; continue to cook at a low simmer, about 15 minutes. Turn the heat off and set the sauce aside.

3. When the chicken wings are done, reheat the sauce, bringing it back up to a boil. Mix together the cornstarch and 1/2 cup water; whisk into the boiling sauce. Bring the sauce back up to a boil; the sauce should begin to thicken. Cook for an additional 2 minutes then pour over the fried chicken.

Batter the Chicken:

1. Rinse the chicken. Place in a large mixing bowl.

2. Into the mixing bowl, add the ingredients for the fried chicken: salt, black pepper, eggs, garlic powder, flour, corn starch, and water. Using your hands, mix the chicken and the rest of the ingredients together. After mixing, the chicken should be fully covered in a thick batter.

Fry the Chicken (1st Frying):

1. Place the oil in a large frying pan or wok. Heat the oil over medium high heat, to about 375 degrees.

2. Carefully drop the chicken into the hot oil. Do not overcrowd the pan (the chicken needs room to cook).

3. Let the chicken cook for about 5 minutes on each side.

4. For the first frying, fry for a total of 10 minutes. Remove from the oil and drain in a metal colander. Set aside and continue to fry the remaining chicken. After all the chicken pieces have been fried for the first time, it is time for the 2nd frying. The 2nd frying will make the wings extra crispy and golden brown.

Fry the Chicken (2nd Frying):

1. This step goes much quicker. For the second frying, it’s okay to overcrowd the pan. Place as many chicken wings into the hot oil as can fit. My pan fit about 12 wings for the first frying; for the second frying, I placed about 18 wings into the pan.

2. For the second frying, fry for about 8 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oil and drain in a metal colander. *See the difference in coloring between the first and second frying in the photo attached to this recipe.

3. When all the wings have been fried for the second time, place in a large mixing bowl. Pour the prepared sticky sauce over the chicken.

Garnish and Serve:

1. After pouring the sauce over the chicken, gently stir to ensure each wing is generously coated with the sticky sauce.

2. Optional: sprinkle pepper flakes and toasted sesame seeds over the chicken.

3. Serve with hot rice and ENJOY! It’s so good, you’ll be addicted to it!

 

The photos below illustrate my step-by-step process.  I hope this makes it easier to understand.  Give it a try and let me know how you like it.  🙂

1 - Crack Chicken

2 - Fried Chicken Ingredients

3 - Sauce Ingredients

4 - Make the Sauce

5 - Batter the Chicken

6 - First Frying

Oops!  # 4 (above) should read, “fry for a total of 10 minutes” (not 8).

 

7 - Second Frying

8 - Garnish and Serve

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Madoya (Battered and Fried Bananas)

Here’s another very simple dish I’d like to share with you.  It’s called Madoya (pronounced ma-dô-ja), lightly battered then fried slices of banana.

This is another dish that brings back lots of amazing memories of growing up on Guam.  My aunt and uncle used to grow cooking bananas (see the photo below) and give our family several “hands” whenever they harvested some.   (A “hand”of bananas is what a section of bananas out of a bunch is called; it’s also referred to as a “tier”.)

The photo below was taken over 20 years ago.  My parents and aunt/uncle used to grow and sell vegetables at the (then) Harmon flea market, then subsequently at the Dededo flea market.  I used to LOVE going with them.  We’d get to the flea market well before any roosters were awake to set up our stand.  This photo shows (from L-R) my aunt, dad and mom (and another vendor checking out the competition) setting up green onions, kangkung, bread fruit, and several varieties of bananas for sale.  That’s Saba banana in the bottom left.

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This is a close up view of Saba banana.  It’s a great cooking banana, and is great for making madoya, golai åppan (bananas cooked with coconut milk and sugar), banana lumpia, grilled bananas, or even eaten as-is.

saba banana

 

I didn’t have any Saba bananas today, but I did have ripe plantains.  Be sure to read my post for grilled plantains — I have photos showing what ripe ones look like.

When I make madoya, I like for the banana to be the star of the show.  Therefore, I don’t make a super thick batter.  Instead, I make my batter thin, yet still thick enough to provide a nice coating when fried.

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

 

MADOYA

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 ripe plantains
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Oil, for frying

DIRECTIONS:

1.  In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, water, cinnamon and sugar.

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The batter should drip quickly when you lift the whisk out of the bowl.  It’s much thinner than pancake batter.  (Sorry for the fuzzy photo below.)

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2.  Peel and slice the plantains into small slices (you can also slice them length-wise instead of across).

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3.  Place the banana slices into the batter.  Use a fork to gently stir the slices into the batter, carefully separating them (be careful not to mash the bananas).

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4.  Heat your oil.  Once the oil is ready, carefully drop in each slice.  Don’t put too many in at once or else they will stick together.

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5.  Fry until golden brown on both sides.  Remove from the oil; place the fried bananas on papers towels to drain.  Serve and enjoy!

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Grilled Plantains with a Brown Sugar Butter Glaze

I bought some plantains a little over a week ago and finally got around to making something with it today.

Unless you grow plantains in your back yard (which I don’t), you will usually buy them from the grocery store when they are still green and unripe.  There are lots of great ways to cook green plantains, but I prefer to eat them when they are sweet and ripe.

This is what they looked like when I first bought them.  Notice how green most of them are.

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The photo below shows what they look like several days later.  Plantains are ripe when the skins are a dull yellow and there are several dark brown (even black) spots on them.  The plantains below were sweet, but if I let them sit for a few more days (when there will be even more black spots), they’d be at the peak of ripeness.  I didn’t want to wait that long, however, especially since I’d planned on grilling them — I needed the plantains to be sweet but still firm enough to hold up to the heat without turning to mush.

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At this stage of ripeness, the plantains are perfect for grilling, making golai åppan aga’ (cooked with coconut milk and sugar), or making madoya (battered, fried bananas)

I’m making madoya tomorrow for breakfast (be looking out for my recipe) with a couple of the plantains.  I’m going to make golai åppan aga’ later this week with any remaining plantains.

But for tonight’s dessert, I decided on grilling them, then topping them with a brown sugar, butter and honey glaze (oh, so delicious!).

This is such a simple recipe to make.  Give it a try and let me know how you like it.  🙂

 

GRILLED PLANTAINS WITH A BROWN SUGAR BUTTER GLAZE

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 ripe plantains
  • Vegetable oil (about 4 tablespoons)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (this brings out the sweetness, believe it or not!)

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Slice the ends off the plantains then cut each plantain into thirds.  Slice each third in half, lengthwise, then remove the peels.

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2.  Place 2 tablespoons of oil in a grill pan over medium heat.  Place the plantains in an even layer on the heated grill.

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3.  While the bottom of the plantains are grilling, brush the tops with the remaining vegetable oil.  Grill for about 3 minutes, or until nice grill marks form (you can peek to check).  Flip the plantains over and grill the other side for another 3 minutes.

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4.  Meanwhile, melt the butter and honey in a microwave-safe bowl.  Stir in the brown sugar and apple cider vinegar. Top each plantain with the brown sugar-butter mixture.  Remove from the heat when the brown sugar-butter mixture starts to melt and drip down the sides of the plantains.

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5.  Serve while warm.  Top with vanilla ice cream (optional).  ENJOY!

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