A Taste of Guam is a recipe book designed to share Chamorro culture through food, particularly Chamorro bbq. This book also includes the author’s collection of recipes: Other Island Favorites, Mix of America, Guam Desserts, and a Treasure Chest of Sweets.
I was pretty excited when I had the chance to review Paula Ann Lujan Quinene's A Taste of Guam. I admit I knew little about the food of this country, but I love trying new recipes and travelling through food.
This is a pretty standard cookbook that is easy to follow and I found that most of the ingredients are pretty accessible. The books stars off with an entire section dedicated to BBQ, which was my favorite. After seeing the Red Rice on the cover, it was the first thing I made myself and while I ended up with enough rice for an army after halving the recipe, the results were well received.
I also really enjoyed the Lumpia, which I had eaten before and will most likely make again. They took a little time, but are really delicious and went really well with the rice.
While I thought it was odd that Quinene include a bunch of random recipes for deserts that apparently have no connection to Guam, I did make the first Pound Cake recipe and thought it was pretty good.
I am glad the author took the time to share a little bit of Guam’s history and her efforts to share Chamorro food. Before reading this book, I knew little of either.
One thing I found disappointing was the fact that many of the recipes call for processed ingredients like spam, cream of mushroom soup or imitation crap. While this may be the food she was raised on, when I set out to explore a country’s culinary tradition I prefer to reach back to its roots. It’s easy for me to pull out a box of frozen perogi, but I know I’m not sharing the history my Grandmother carried from the Ukraine unless I prepare a batch from scratch as she taught me in her kitchen so many years ago.
Overall there are a few good recipes in this book and the author was able to share a lot about her homeland in a small collection. Personally, I would prefer a book that tackles more traditional cooking, but think the modern American cook who is short on both time and money will appreciate the shortcuts the author shares.
Filled with interesting recipes, I found 'A Taste of Guam' a good resource for expanding my culinary palette. There were a few recipes that were a little too different for my tastes, but I found family members who enjoyed them immensely. The easy to follow recipes were easily made, though some ingredients were difficult to come across in my town. Googling some of the ingredients proved to be a work in itself, and the substitutes were hard to fond, but it is a book not to be looked at wrongly. It is filled with unique recipes sure to please. Guyuria (fried cookies dusted with sugar syrup) went down with rave reviews from my children and their friends. Red Rice was welcomed by all who tried this for me. The quantity of the recipe was much more than I anticipated, but took it along to a dinner party and received compliments from most of the guests. It is clear in the writing of the book that this culture and food are well loved by the author, Paula A. Lujan Quinene.
Filled with interesting recipes, I found 'A Taste of Guam' a good resource for expanding my culinary palette.
There were a few recipes that were a little too different for my tastes, but I found family members who enjoyed them immensely.
The easy to follow recipes were easily made, though some ingredients were difficult to come across in my town. Googling some of the ingredients proved to be a work in itself, and the substitutes were hard to fond, but it is a book not to be looked at wrongly. It is filled with unique recipes sure to please.
Guyuria (fried cookies dusted with sugar syrup) went down with rave reviews from my children and their friends.
Red Rice was welcomed by all who tried this for me. The quantity of the recipe was much more than I anticipated, but took it along to a dinner party and received compliments from most of the guests.
It is clear in the writing of the book that this culture and food are well loved by the author, Paula A. Lujan Quinene.
I had no idea what traditional food in Guam until I received this cookbook to review. In fact we ended up having a "Guam meal." For the purpose of this review I chose three dishes to try.
One of the dishes was "Red Rice" and used achote seeds. I had never heard of achote seeds before and I wasn't sure if I could get them but after a quick trip to a local whole foods market I was well on my way. The rice was delicious and the achote seeds, to my surprise, created a wonderful dark orange color. Of course the bacon drippings added that special, home-cooked taste.
The second dish I tried was "Golai Appan Aga" because we love plantains. What a wonderful treat. Cooking the plantains in coconut milk brought out the flavor and of course the touch of cinnamon added a pleasant flare.
The third dish I made was "Chicken Kelaguen." The original recipe called for 16 cups of chopped chicken but I chose to cut the recipe in half. It was just going to be too much for two people. The dish was tasty, a bit on the tart side because of the lemon, however it seemed the coconut gave it a good balance. And, we enjoyed the left-overs the next day.
I've decided I really like the unique taste of traditional dishes of Guam. Paula A. Lujan Quinene preserves her heritage by sharing her proven taste-tested recipes with us. I will be trying out some of the other recipes because I find them easy and most ingredients can be found in any pantry.
The cookbook was very easy to follow and seemed to share Paula Quinene's personality and personal history with each recipe. She broke down each recipe in to sets, in order as needed. Which I found to be a huge help and made organizing very easy. She was great about explaining the cooking process. Also, she even made sure to explain how certain dishes are pronounced. For example, Buchi Buchi pronounced "bu-chee bu-chee). I also love that she included places to stop at in Guam if you were to ever visit, a short history of Guam, major Fiestas of their culture,
However, I felt that since the recipes are unique to other cultures there needed to be an explanation as to what certain ingredients are or even an acceptable substitute. For example, The recipe for "Ahu" called for Ahu meat. I googled it and couldn't find anything other then other recipes for "Ahu" and none of them mentioned Ahu meat, instead there were references for coconut meat. Also, what can you use in place of Mr. Yoshida's sauce? The other suggestion I have is servings. Not a single recipe mentioned how many servings it makes. I understand that it must be difficult to come up with the amount as these are recipes in which are normally eyeballed and the author went through and remade the recipes and measured so that she may be able to write the cookbook. Since I had no idea what the serving sizes were, I had no idea how much to reduce everything by to cook for a smaller group. My pot of red rice was enough to feed an army.
With those few suggestions aside, it's a GREAT cookbook with unique recipes that will make for a fun night of Chamorro food. I made the "Red Rice" and it was DELICIOUS! I made "Fina'Dinne" which is a traditional sauce served with BBQ, egg rolls, white rice, etc., this is more of a taste preference but I didn't care for it. I might try it again but reduce the amount of vinegar. My neighbor had some and LOVED it. Once again, that is a taste preference. I made the Crab Kelaguen. Yum. I read the recipe, thought it weird but wanted to try it. Holy cow was it fabulous! I just ate it on it's own. So delicious. I lastly made Estufao. Oh my goodness. Delicious. If you like Filipino Adobo, you will LOVE Estufao. Fabulous. I am definitely going to try some of the recipes, especially the Chicken Kelaguan and some of the desserts. I am going to play around with trying to cut down the red rice until I get it to a smaller size without losing all of it's fabulous flavor.
I think Paula Lujan Quinene definitely has a market for this book and I have suggested it to other friends of mine who love to try different cuisines!