Let’s fire up the grill, it’s tunu time!
Kelaguen and Tatiyas
Kelaguen is a signature dish, or staple as some may say, that is ALWAYS at any gathering in Chamorro culture. I learned how to make it at an early age, and have since been sharing it with friends everywhere I go, because chances are, they’ve never tasted anything like it. In addition to sharing it, I also often experiment with it, adding other flavors in from other cultures who have similar dishes in a quest for the ultimate kelaguen.
It can be eaten as a snack or as a main course, and also goes great as an accompaniment to beer, and is especially good when you’re huddled around the grill with some friends or family.
The flavor can be described as a marinade consisting of lemon, salt, and hot peppers. Many different types of meats can be used to make kelaguen, including chicken, beef, fish, shrimp, octopus, and even Spam! I encourage you to try different things, but that said – just make sure you actually cook the chicken if you choose to do it. Pork? I haven’t tried it, but if I did, I’d cook it, so be sure to cook it as well!
Tatiyas (pronounced tah-ti-jahs) is a flatbread made in Chamorro culture, which actually originates from the Spanish word “tortilla”, and can be prepared different ways to achieve different flavors from traditional flour to coconut flavored. I will be revisiting this recipe over time, trying different things, but for now, you can consider this the simplest and most basic, although very tasty version.
What makes tatiyas special for me is that it’s cooked on a grill as I’ve been exposed to, and that first bite for me is always instant nostalgia, reminding me of many childhood memories. Growing up in my family, it was usually the women who made tatiyas, while the men made kelaguen and worked the grills. Oh how I miss the days where our family would spend an entire day (and sometimes night) preparing a feast to celebrate a special occasion.