Wednesday, May 6, 2009


If there is one thing I craved while in Sanlågu, it was Chamoru-style empanåda. I had grown up only knowing these kinds (on the rare trips that my grandmother made to Sanlågu, carrying bags of frozen ones in her suitcase), so it was quite a shock when I got to Los Angeles and had my first taste of Filipino empanadas.

For those of you who have never tried the ones available in Los Angeles, Filipino empanadas are filled with chicken or pork and baked in a slightly sweet bready dough. I assume that variations include baking the fillings in flaky pastry dough and frying the things, but I never had any prepared that way in L.A.

had tried some empanadas from some South American countries (I can't remember which ones now because it was more than a year ago) at Empanada Mama in New York: cheesy and tasty. You can also find recipes for nouveau varieties --like those for fillings with goat cheese and dandelion greens in the Los Angeles Times, which, frankly, sound sort of silly.

And so, the first morning I awoke in Guåhan, the first thing I did was get myself over to the Aguon store in Barigåda and get me two empanåda and a King Carr ice tea...

... and promptly, a little heartburn, too, because I wasn't exactly used to eating a spicy deep-fried something at 6:30 a.m.

But i kirason-hu, a little more clogged for the wear, nonetheless appreciates the goodness that is a Chamoru empanåda. As you can see, it's 1) deep-fried, 2) consists of a corn-based dough as opposed to all the other wheat-based ones I've tried in Sanlågu, and 3) orange, courtesy of the ubiquitous Chamoru spice, achiote seed. From the picture, you can't see that 1) it's got perfectly crunchy edges, and 2) it's warm, having been fried probably not less than an hour before, but probably less than even that.

And on the inside?

That's either toasted and ground rice or toasted cream of rice boiled with chicken stock and enhanced with bacon (or chicken), lots of pepper, and more achiote seed. Also notice that the outer dough has broken into individual crispy flakes courtesy of a deep fry job well done.

Simple breakfast bought for about $1 each from the Aguon store. But of course if you're not here, you can always try making them yourself (look under "Meat").

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