Culture Tuesday is a weekly column in which Best of Vegan Editor Samantha Onyemenam explores different cultures’ cuisines across the globe through a plant-based and vegan lens. Before you start exploring vegan Guamanian recipes, you might want to click here to read her original column about Guamanian cuisine.
Culture Tuesday – 10 Vegan Guamanian Recipes You Need To Try
This is a complementary piece to the article on Guamanian cuisine. This piece consists of 10 vegan-friendly CHamorru recipes from Guamanian foodies and recipe developers. It includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes as well as treats, dessert, appetizers, and side dishes. This complementary piece will introduce you to a variety of delicious CHamorru meals perfect for at-home meals and feasts.
Kẻlaguen is a dish cooked using the acidity of lemons. Although it is usually made using meats, this recipe is for a plant-based version made with tofu. This tofu kẻlaguen is made rather similarly to its more conventional versions. The prepped tofu is marinated in a flavored pickling marinade consisting of lemon juice, onions, chili peppers, and seasonings. However, although in traditional kẻlaguen, the lemon juice cooks the ingredients, in this plant-based version, it solely adds flavor and acidity to the dish.
Tinaktak is a common CHamoru comfort food. In simple terms, it is ground meat cooked in a flavorsome coconut broth (kådu). This plant-based version is made by sautéing vegan ground meat with onions, garlic, tomatoes, and vegetables then simmering it in a vegetable stock and coconut mixture. Additional flavor is added through the inclusion of lemon juice, soy sauce, salt, and pepper, towards the end of the cooking process. The final dish is served with rice.
Finadene is a CHamorro condiment with a spicy, umami, and sour/tangy flavor profile. It is made through a well-balanced combination of lemon juice (or vinegar), soy sauce, spring onions (green onions/scallions), and chili peppers. However, tomatoes and white onions could be added to it for even more flavor. It can be served on rice, as a dipping sauce, or poured over other foods for added flavor and heat.
Latiya is a CHamoru custard cake made by topping a vanilla sponge cake with custard and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon then leaving the custard to cool completely into a set pudding before slicing and serving the cake. This recipe includes instructions for making both the sponge cake and coconut custard from scratch (both being vegan-friendly).
Gollai hågun suni is a traditionally vegan-friendly creamy, tangy and savory CHamoru side dish made predominantly of taro/cocoyam leaves (often substituted with spinach) and coconut milk. Other ingredients include aromatic vegetables, spices, lemon juice, and chillies.
Buñelos uhang are technically shrimp fritter patties. However, this recipe, which does not include shrimp, has a similar appearance, texture, and flavor as the more conventional/traditional buñelos uhang. The shrimp-like flavor is introduced into the dish through the use of specially selected seasonings.
CHamoru empanadas can be served as both a beloved snack and meal. Their filling usually consists of a spiced shredded chicken and cream of rice mixture. However, vegan versions are made using shredded mock chicken or jackfruit. Annatto powder is added to both the crust dough and filling to give them their signature reddish-orange color. Other ingredients the filling contains include onions, garlic, and chillies. Some cooks substitute this classic filling with a thickened chalakilis for an equally flavorsome empanada.
Chalakilis is a soup with influences from the Mexican soup, chilaquiles. However, CHamoru chilakilis does not include stale tortillas which chilaquiles does. In place of the stale tortillas, ancient CHamoru people repurposed the dried rice stuck to the bottom and sides of pots after cooking rice to make chilakilis. In more recent times, CHamoru people have chosen to simply toast rice prior to grinding it for this dish.
To make chalakilis, onions and garlic are sauteed then simmered in stock/broth with potatoes, seasonings, and annatto seeds. When the potatoes are cooked through, the ground rice is added to the mixture and cooked thoroughly, then the soup is thinned using coconut milk and the dish is served as is, or with a chicken substitute (often tofu) for a more authentic feel.
Potu are rice cakes flavored using a fermented sap from the coconut tree (known as tuba). To make CHamoru potu, long-grain white rice is soaked for, at least, two hours, rinsed, and ground into a flour. The rice flour is combined with equal amounts of sugar, sweet tuba, and water then left to sit overnight. This mixture is cooked till it sets by steaming or baking it in stainless steel cups or moulds.
Hineksa’ aga’ga, or red rice, is a rather popular and symbolic dish in the CHamoru culture. It is made by cooking short-grained rice in water (or vegetable stock) that has been dyed reddish-orange using annatto/achiote seeds. Other ingredients often included for flavor purposes are garlic and onions. However, other vegetables could be added for flavor and texture.