Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Grilling Eggplant- Guam Style

We love to BBQ our veggies on Guam. As a matter of fact we love to BBQ just about anything. But one of our favorites dishes is BBQ'd eggplant soaked in coconut milk mixed with lemon finadene'. Talk about something that makes your taste buds explode!! You just have to try it out for yourself.

But there is an art to BBQing the eggplant. You don't just build a fire and slap any old eggplant on the grill. There are a few important things to remember. So here are a few tips....

First you need to pick the right type of eggplant to BBQ/grill. Pick eggplants that are about 6-8 inches long and are nice and plump. They will need a strong stem on them also. You don't want to use the long, slender type of eggplant. The reason why is that you want a lot of "meat" and that is what a plump eggplant provides. The long, slender eggplants just don't have enough meat on them for a good bite. But if that is all that is available, then by all means use what you got. 

You want a young eggplant. The skin should be very shiny. The younger ones just taste better as in most things.

These eggplants are just about right. I would have liked them slightly younger, but they still had a sheen to them.

The strong stem is what you are going to use to turn the eggplant from side to side when you are BBQing them. The stem will also act as the "handle" for you to use when removing it from the finished dish and onto your plate. So when cooking the eggplant you definitely try to protect the stem from burning up.

Make sure that you puncture your eggplants. This allows for heat to penetrate quickly and steam to escape. It just provides for a more efficient grill.

I use a small knife but many use a fork to puncture the eggplants.

Now your fire is another item of concern. Regardless of the type of pit, protect the stems from the direct flames. So with a kettle grill, just build yourself a 2-zone fire, hot and cold. This way the eggplants will be grilled in the hot zones with the stems over the cold zone and the edge of the kettle if necessary.

And build your fire hot. This will cook the eggplants faster.

Here is a picture of the fire in a kettle grill...

2-zone fire.

Placement of eggplants on the grill with the stems protected from the direct flames.

Do not use a fork or tongs if you can. Using any typical BBQ instruments to turn the eggplants can result in the eggplant being damaged and the skin and meat being torn. You want the eggplant intact as much as possible so turn them using the stem. Of course this means that you will need to be wearing gloves to protect your hands from the heat, but that is the price you pay for having a nice looking eggplant.

You can also grill the eggplant directly on the coals with the stems off of the coals protected.

Here are a couple of eggplants being grilled directly on the coals. This is my preferred method as, in my opinion, the grilling is more complete and a whole lot faster.

When you are done grilling/BBQing your eggplants, they should look somewhat like these...

Finished eggplants with the skin blackened and the stems pretty much intact.

Of course the rest of the prep for the finished dish can be viewed here.

Here is a picture of the completed dish...

BBQ'd eggplant in coconut milk and lemon finadene'.

Of course there are many different recipes and ways to make this dish. As in anything, everyone has "their own way". But I brought out some tips just to help out.

Hope you enjoy making one of Guam's wonderful dishes.

Until next time....

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pork and Chicken BBQ- Bare Essentials

Sometimes you just get together and BBQ at the spur of the moment. Unplanned as some would say. But do you ever notice those are some of the best times? And that is exactly what we did on this day.

Our good friends Rita and Peter Carbullido invited us to their home for a little impromptu BBQ. Peter told me he had dry rubbed some pork belly, pork chops and pork country ribs. PORKALICIOUS is what we are talking about!! My favorite meat. Our contribution would be a couple of dry rubbed chickens and of course some finadene' denanche' (hot pepper paste). So I went over looking forward to some good eats!! 

When I arrived, Pete, who has quite an open BBQ pit setup in his backyard patio, was under a tree in the empty land across the street with a few blocks and a grill with the fire already going. That's what I like.....bare essentials. Here is a photo of the elaborate BBQ set up!!

Prep table, a few chairs, some concrete blocks and a grill. Now who wouldn't love that. But the most important ingredients to a great time are great company and BBQ. We had it all!!

Enough with the speech. Don't we always say that pictures are worth a thousand words. Well here are a couple thousand worth.....

Maple rubbed chicken.

Super simple but efficient set up.

Chicken is looking awesome!!

Pete is slapping down the pork rubbed with salt and pepper...

Master griller in action!!

Slicing the chicken because they are hungry. Pete's nephew... a protege in training??

Nope, he is an eater. Must have sampled about 5 or 6 times.

Now he is getting serious!!

Pete's youngest son, Brandon, is polishing off his plate.

Our gals, Lupe and Rita are really enjoying their food. Looks like Lupe is either yawning, sneezing or is enjoying her hot peppers. Hehehehe!!!

To round out the menu, we had a delicious macaroni salad, turkey stuffing and Spanish rice with finadene' denanche' on the side.  Of course we had our share of refreshments. 

We were joined by Rita's parents, Mr and Mrs Blas and another nephew. We had a great time and we were blessed with great weather. 

Just another Guam day.

Until next time....

Monday, March 19, 2012

Guam Salmon Salad!!!

Need a new side dish for a fish-themed BBQ. Try out Guam Salmon Salad. Talk about an abundance of flavors....

Check out the recipe on the Guam Firehouse Cook blog.

Hope you enjoy it!!!

Until next time....

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Guam Chicken Chalakiles

If you like chicken and want to try something different, you definitely have got to try Chicken Chalakiles. A very popular dish here on Guam, this basically is a stew made with chicken, toasted ground rice, coconut milk, and colored with achote/achuete or annatto seeds or powder. It is a great dish and one that needs to be on your "must try" list!!

Chicken Chalakiles

So I had some for lunch the other day over white Jasmine rice. I was told that I needed a bigger plate. What do you think? I didn't think so. I just filled this plate up 2 more times....

Anyway, here is the recipe that I used...

Chicken Chalakiles 

  • 1 whole chicken cut into small tablespoon sized pieces 
  • ½ medium onion, diced 
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced 
  • 2 tbsp of oil 
  • Water to cover chicken in pot 
  • ½ cup of cream of rice (approximate) 
  • Achote/Annatto seeds for coloring (I used one 1/3 oz. packet of Mama Sita’s powdered achuete) 
  • 1 can, 15 oz., of coconut milk 
  • 10 fresh hot peppers, crushed (optional but we love hot pepper) 
  • Salt to taste… 
  • In pot over medium-high heat, sauté onions and garlic in oil; 
  • Add the chicken and brown; 
  • Add water just to cover chicken by 1 to 2 inches; 
  • Bring to boil and reduce heat to low and until chicken is cooked (about 20 minutes); 
  • After about 15 minutes add the achote (powdered), stirring until it all has dissolved; 
  • Add the cream of rice until you have the consistency that you like. You don’t want it so thick that it will not readily flow onto and over your plate; 
  • Add the hot peppers. These are optional but add greatly to the flavor. Reduce amount to your taste; 
  • Then add the can of coconut milk and stir; 
  • Salt to taste. 
Enjoy over white rice. We use Jasmine in our home. Not as sticky and has a great flavor.

Give this dish a try. You will love it....I'm sure!!!

Until next time....

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

BBQ'd Grouper (Gadao) and Eggplant

My wife, Lupe, wanted me to BBQ some Gadao, which is the Chamorro term for grouper. Lupe loves BBQ'd grouper. I decided to make full use of the fire so I added BBQ'd eggplant, and hot plate grilled onions and cowboy fries (potato wedges) just to round out the meal.

Enough said!! Here are the pics....

Got these pan sized grouper all laid out. I just seasoned with sea salt and a little garlic powder.

Closeup of the grouper. These are just about done. BBQ'd grouper taste fantastic. Especially with the flavor that the smoke imparts on them.

I placed the eggplants directly on the coals to BBQ them. Notice I try to keep the stems from burning by protecting them with wood or raising up off the coals. Need the stems for "handles" later on.

Here is the finished eggplant. To prepare this dish you can view the process on one of my previous posts here.

Built up the fire, placed the hot plate and caramelized the onions in butter. Seasoned with a little fresh ground black pepper.

Cut the potato into eight pieces, seasoned with sea salt and black pepper and grilled on the hot plate with the remaining butter.

Here is the finished eggplant dish in the coconut milk finadenne' (Chamorro hot dipping sauce). You can see how we utilized the natural "handles" of the eggplants.

BBQ'd grouper served and already being attacked!! Lupe is one fast gal when it comes to her BBQ'd fish. Watch your hands around her!!! 

Lupe's plate. You can see her lifting up a hot pepper. Just about every bite will include a hot pepper. Lupe can take plenty of heat. I gave her a Ghost pepper and she took it down like a popsicle. But she did say it was hot!!!

My eggplant with that coconut milk/lemon finadenne'. You can see all the hot peppers. They are a must eat with this dish.

To top off our meal, we also had the staple of Guam, white rice.

Needless to say, we thoroughly enjoyed our dinner. Finished up by 5:30 pm and went out to the garden to work it off.

Another great day on Guam!!

Until next time....