empanada, chamorro style

these are the chamorro version of empanada, a filled pie or turnover. the local version is filled with ground, toasted rice cooked into a mush flavoured with chilis, pepper, and garlic then coloured with achote(ah-chó-teh), otherwise known as annatto. the rice is sometimes cooked with a stewing chicken, to give it a richer flavour, but the meat is rarely included. the shell is made from masa harina and is also coloured with achote, and the whole thing is deep fried. it's both bland and spicy, crunchy and mushy. it's basically a vehicle for chili peppers and a way of filling up yer belly. v. addictive.

i bought these at my friendly neighbourhood convenience market. actually, it's not so friendly, and it isn't in my neighbourhood, so it wasn't that convenient. but neither is making these. take a gander at the recipe at the greatly named website Hey Nene! Come Kiss Your Auntie Charo!. the second i saw the ingredients list (8 cups of rice, a 15 pound bag of masa), i knew it was best left to the experts.


Thats one funky empanada! What a coincidence because i've been baking empanadas all week looking for the one perfect recipe. So i've done Argentinian beef ones, Galician tuna ones, cuban versions and even one with an aussie meat pie filling.

Interestingly your chamorro version has mexican ingredients--masa harina and achiote (thats the spanish spelling). In the philippines that would be spelled 'achuete'. Hmm, I wonder how masa harina came to be part of chamorro cooking. Fascinating.

hey gonzo--i've got an ongoing series about portuguese influence in asia, so that'll cover the masa harina question. but basically the answer is centuries of colonization.

Hey gonzo, Maybe because we had spanish ancientry in our culture. Maybe you should you look up our history. Its really interesting.

for that comment about chammorro food do not hate ... give love to this page... if you do not like it make your own page thank you for the receipt don't hate much love island girl proud to be a chammorita......

I've been thinking about the whole corn influence in Chamorro culture a lot. I've been told the Spanish brought in laborers from Central/South America (not sure which) back in the day. There are a few people, I've met on Guam, who have told me some of their ancestry goes back to native Indians from the Americas. I'm deducing the fact that perhaps many of our dishes stem from these areas. I believe the Spanish, or Portuguese, influence was mainly a facilitator of bringing the workers from other countries. Not unlike how Hawaiian food came about with so many other cultural influences.

Chotda, as you know, I've been in a Hispanic neighborhood of San Francisco -- The Mission -- for some time now. I've noticed many of the dishes from El Salvador, have similarities to Chamorro food. They use banana leaves to wrap their tamales; the empanada I've tried is fried, with a crunchy achiote(annato) shell, but this is served with a delicious cabbage slaw, on the side, to round out the heaviness of the empanada; and I recall a chalaquiles with a flavor profile not unlike Chamorro chalakiles. Our island influence generally substitutes some of the masa with rice, and uses coconut milk and the fiery "donne" or bird chili peppers.

Central American food culture is largely based on corn, and the prized masa. It's so distinctive of their food, and to be honest, I don't know of any other island cultures in the Pacific that use masa in their cooking. If anyone knows, please do tell.

When we get the Guambat going, it would be great to venture deep into these influences and make some tasty meals. As always, much love to you and dammit, my cheeks are watering from all the beautiful food pics. Missing home, food, friends and family.... *sigh*

I've been away from Guam six years now and I miss the food the most! Chamorro empanadas happen to be a favourite. If only it were as easy to get out here in the PNW as calling the San Gils at Harmon Mart to fresh fry a batch of empanadas. So good hot out of the oil. Drool.