Grilled Eggplant with Coconut Milk

I just love eggplants — stir fried with beef or chicken, sautéed with onions and scrambled with eggs, eggplant parmesan, and a favorite — grilled eggplant with coconut milk, lemon juice, green onions and hot pepper.  DELICIOUS!

The Chamorro name for this dish is Padu’ Lalu’.  It’s what my dad (in his 80’s) calls it, but since I don’t hear it called by this name anymore, I’m assuming it’s an antigu name.  Nowadays, you hear this dish called Eggplant Fina’denne’, or it’s named by what it is–eggplant with coconut milk.  Whatever you call it, it’s delicious.  Add it to your fiesta table menu.   🙂

Grilled Eggplant with Coconut Milk (Padu’ Lalu’)


  • 6 eggplants (see note 1 below)
  • 1 can coconut milk or cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon powder (see note 2 below)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Hot pepper, to taste
  • 4 stalks green onions

1.  Prepare the eggplants for grilling by pricking them all over with a fork.  This is so it won’t burst during the grilling process as the natural water in it heats up.


2.  Grill the eggplants, turning them over frequently to ensure even cooking.  Grill until the skins are dark brown, even black and the eggplant is soft to when you touch it.



3.  Soak the grilled eggplant in a bowl of water to cool it down.  Peel the skin off the eggplant.  Place the whole eggplants in a shallow dish (my mom actually cuts the eggplant into small, bite-sized pieces).


 4.  In a small mixing bowl, mix together the coconut milk or cream, lemon powder, salt and hot pepper.  Mix until the lemon powder and salt dissolve.  Taste, then adjust the amount of lemon powder, salt and hot pepper to your liking.  Pour the mixture over the eggplant.  Sprinkle the green onions over the eggplant and coconut milk.  Stir gently to combine.  Serve and ENJOY!




Note 1:  I like to use the long, skinny Japanese eggplants for this dish.  Buy eggplants that are still firm and not too fat, with very little to no blemishes on the skin.  You can use the large, oval eggplants common in grocery stores, only use 1 or 2 smaller ones.  You’ll need to grill or broil these longer as they are thicker and will take longer for the middle to cook through.



Note 2:  If you don’t have lemon powder (on Guam, a favorite is Yours Brand lemon powder), you can use unsweetened Kool-Aid lemonade mix.

lemon powder



Grilled Eggplant with Coconut Milk, served with BBQ ribs, White Rice and Fina’denne’


Hannah’s BBQ Marinade

My teenaged daughter is the official Marinade maker in our house.  She has a recipe that is so simple yet has all of our friends salivating when the smell of our BBQ wafts into their homes.

Hannah’s recipe is great for marinating beef, pork, or chicken.  This makes enough to marinate 4 packages of short ribs or 2 slabs of ribs or a 5-pound bag of chicken.

Hannah’s BBQ Marinade 


  • 1 1/2 cups soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 can soda (your choice–sometimes Hannah uses Pepsi, Coke, Dr. Pepper or Root beer)
  • 1/4 cup good quality honey (we buy ours from a local Colorado bee farm)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 small apple, cored, and puréed in a blender or mixer
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped

1.  Mix all the ingredients together.

2.  Place your meat in a ziplock bag.  Pour the marinade into the bag then seal.  Allow the meat to marinate for a few hours or overnight before grilling.



Apigigi’ or Sweet Tamales

Apigigi’ is a Chamorro dessert that takes quite a bit of time to make, if prepared the traditional way.

It calls for grated cassava or tapioca, coconut milk, young coconut meat or månha, and sugar.  Mix it all together, grill (or steam for sweet tamåles), and a few hours later you have a delicious dessert that is savored all the more for all the effort it took to make it.


I still remember when I was little; we’d make this mixture the old fashioned way.  First, my mom would dig up some tapioca roots, peel them, then we’d grind them in that old fashioned grinder that you had to clamp to a table and rotate a hand-crank.

Then came the task of making coconut milk.  First you husk the coconut (shake it first to make sure there was liquid in it; that meant it was still good).  Then you grate the coconut using a kåmyu.  Lastly, add a little bit of water and squeeze the heck out of the meat to get thick, delicious coconut milk.

Then there was the task of getting månha.  As much as I did not care for grinding the cassava, I really didn’t like this part of the job (I only liked drinking the månha juice), only because in order to get a couple of cups of sweet månha, we had to cut open about a dozen månha then carefully scrape out the meat, being careful not to scrape out the husk with it.  Of course, I always got a lot of the husk with the meat–I think this is why I hated this task most of all.  I had to go back and pull off all the husk off the meat before we could use it.

But thankfully modern conveniences make this process a WHOLE LOT easier!  You can buy canned coconut milk, grated cassava, and even young coconut meat, all packaged nicely, ready for you to make some apigigi’ or sweet tamales.  Yay!  🙂

Grilled for apigigi’ or steamed for sweet tamales, this recipe is another family favorite.  Make sure you read all the way to the bottom of this post for my twist to this Chamorro favorite.

Apigigi’ or Sweet Tamales

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  • 1 bag (1 pound) grated cassava
  • 2 cups månha (if you buy frozen månha, make sure it’s thawed and drained)
  • 3/4 cup sugar (use 1/2 cup if you like it less sweet)
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • Banana leaves (for making apigigi, cut into 6×4-inch pieces)

1.  Chop the manha, then mix it with the cassava, sugar and coconut milk.






2.  Spread a thin layer down the center (lengthwise) of the banana leaf.  Fold each side in, over the batter.

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3.  Grill over hot coals or on a stove-top grill pan, about 10 minutes on each side.  Let cool then serve.

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4.  If making sweet tamales instead of apigigi’, fill snack-sized ziplock bags with about 4 tablespoons of batter.  Wrap the bag with foil then steam the foil packets for 20 minutes.  Allow to cool then serve warm.  You can also chill the tamales and serve cold.

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*NOTE:  I also like to serve the steamed tamales unwrapped, placed in a shallow baking dish, then topped with a thick, sweet coconut topping.  Here is my version of the topping:

Sweet Coconut Topping for Tamales

  • 1 1/2 cans coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup sugar

1.  Dissolve the cornstarch and sugar in the coconut milk.  Pour into a small sauce pan then bring to a boil, stirring constantly until the sauce has thickened.

2.  Pour the sauce over the steamed tamales.  Serve while still warm.



Beef Stir Fry with Eggplant, Mushrooms and Bean Sprouts

Beef…it’s what’s for dinner.  🙂  I love that commercialized tag line.

Beef stir fry is another one of those versatile dishes that you can change by adding different vegetables.  I like using whatever looks freshest at the grocery store.  Use whatever vegetables you like, or modify this further by substituting the beef with chicken, pork, or even shrimp!  You can even make this a vegetarian dish by stir frying firm tofu in place of the beef.  The options are virtually endless.

Beef Stir Fry


  • 3 pounds thinly sliced beef
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon accent (or aji), optional
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into small pieces
  • 2 medium Japanese eggplants, sliced
  • 1 package sliced mushrooms, about 2 cups
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 4 tablespoons Korean seasoned soybean paste (see note)
  • 1 bag fresh bean sprouts


1.  In a large pan or wok, brown the beef over high heat along with the sesame oil, black pepper, accent and garlic.



2.  When the beef is browned, add the onions, broccoli, eggplant and mushrooms. Cook over medium high heat until the eggplant and mushrooms have wilted slightly.





3.  In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and Korean seasoned soy bean paste. NOTE: If you can’t find the soybean paste, substitute with like amounts of hoisin sauce. Add the soy sauce mixture to the pot; stir to combine all the ingredients.

4.  Add the bean sprouts. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes until the bean sprouts have wilted only slightly.


5.  Serve with hot rice and enjoy!

This makes enough for about 8-10 servings.


Pork & Shrimp Chop Suey with Noodles

Chop suey most often refers to a stir fried noodle dish, but I like my version of chop suey with a bit of gravy.  I guess my brain refuses to separate spaghetti noodles from sauce, so my chop suey is saucy.  That’s got a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?  Saucy Chop Suey?  🙂

Anyhow, my recipe is made with slices of pork, shrimp, and a variety of veggies — I like adding carrots, cabbage, mushrooms, peppers, and onions.  My mom adds celery in hers, but that’s one vegetable I am not too keen on, so it stays out in my version.

Add your favorite ingredients to make it your own.  Give it a try and let me know how you like it.  🙂




This recipe makes enough to feed a family of four, plus enough leftover for a couple of packed lunches the next day.


  • 2 pounds lean pork, sliced into 1-inch long strips
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups carrots, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups cabbage, sliced into 4×1-inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 2 pounds raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup soy paste (or regular soy sauce will do)
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 box spaghetti noodles, cooked per package directions



1.  Using a wok or large pan, cook the pork with the 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, about 5 minutes.  Stir occasionally to keep the pork from burning and sticking to the pan.


2.  Add the carrots; stir to mix then cook for another 2 minutes.

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3.  Mix in the cabbage and onions; cook for another 2 minutes.


4.  Add the garlic, peppers and mushrooms.  Stir to combine then cook for a minute or two.

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5.  Add the shrimp, soy paste, bouillon cubes, and 1/4 cup of water (set the remaining water aside).  Stir then cook for about 3 minutes; the shrimp should begin to turn pink.

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6.  Turn the heat to high.  Mix the remaining water with the cornstarch; stir until the cornstarch is completely dissolved.  Pour the cornstarch mixture into the pan, stirring constantly to prevent lumps from forming.  Cook for a minute over high heat; the mixture should start to thicken.

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7.  Turn the heat to low.  Add the cooked spaghetti noodles to the pan.  It’s easier if you use a pair of tongs to mix the pork mixture with the noodles.  Once the noodles have heated through, remove from the heat and serve.



Pork & Shrimp Chop Suey with Noodles


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