recipe: easy chamorro red rice.

a staple at guam fiestas and on party plates is red rice. it is most likely a bastardization of paella, the saffron-tinted rice dish from spain. saffron threads are from the stamen of the crocus sativa which is indigenous to western asia, but is not found on guam. its substitute is achote, or annatto seed, which is found in the pods delightfully named bixa orellana, a shrub originally from the carribbean but transplanted on the islands during the spanish exploration days. achote does not have a noticeable flavour, but when the seeds are soaked in water, it imparts a distinctive orange-red dye, which is essential to the dish.

for this recipe, prepare 3 cups of short grained rice for cooking in a rice cooker. set aside.

sautée one finely chopped medium yellow onion (or half a large one), with 6 to 8 slices of smoky streaky bacon, chopped finely (i cut this bacon rather chunkily, by request). drain off any excess oil, and add this to the rice pot. for a vegetarian version, add a little more onion, and a little hickory or kiawe liquid smoke, if desired.

achote comes in seed form, which must be soaked, but also comes in more convenient powder or liquid forms. i use powder, which can be found in many latino food shops as annatto or achiote. i add one scant tablespoon of the powder for every cup of rice cooked, but adjust it according to your colour preference--i like mine to be more orange, while others prefer a deeper, almost paprika-hued red. close the lid to your cooker, and cook as regular rice.

mix the rice through to distribute the onions and bacon and it's done!


Liquid smoke always does my head in conceptually. Rice cookers are completely tops, been evangalising to friends who classify them with popcorn machines and milkshake makers.

you could point out to them that there are several million asians with rice cookers, but without popcorn makers nor milkshake mixers.

i use mine as a double boiler, a steamer, a poacher--'tain't just for rice.

I have tried to convince people of the wonders of a rice cooker myself and they just don't take me seriously. I started using one when I lived in Guam several years ago. And YES! I agree with the other comment made. Rice cookers are NOT just for rice. I lived in a studio in Guam for a while one time and had no other form of cooking method available. I used it for EVERYTHING...even frying chicken pieces. My local friends didn't believe I really did that til I showed them. :)

anonymous, you are my new rice cooker hero(ine?)! frying chicken in the rice cooker?? that's so awesome. i've always wanted to do that but never got up the nerve! japanese women are really creative with the rice cooker--i've seen everything from soup to cakes made in them. i'm sure there's a cookbook out there, i'll just have to look for it.

Mmmm your recipes look delicous!
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Yes!! some of my fondest childhood memories are filled with chicken, red rice and Finadene sauce served at school lunch at CSG on Guam, not to mention the excellent fiestas that i was lucky enough to be invited to.

Thanks for posting this!

I lived in Guam for 5 years. This red rice is awesome! If you've never eaten it, this will be a treat for you. I live in Florida now but will never forget the "red rice" I think that I will make some tonight.


hi truby! thanks for stopping by!

mmmmm... my dad used to live in Guam and I have been there twice to visit. The food is delicious. I remember going to some kind of market where they sold a whole bunch of good, cheap food like seafood with red rice. There was also a Jamaican restaurant I really liked. I miss Guam. Wish I could live there. They have achiote here in Ecuador so I suppose I can use your recipes and make some Chamorro food!

hello kumichan, i'm so sorry i thought i answered this a long time ago. yes! you can make your own chamorro food at home. and jamaican grill is still here if you ever want to come back to visit.

This chamorro red rice is fabulous & nice color,this sure looks yummy! my children loved it, i will cook this red rice again and try the variations...how easy and quick it will to make? my veggie husband will love it and I'm sure it'll be a big hit with the foodies!!

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I have tried this recipe minus the liquid smoke. Is that the secret because mine never tastes the same as on Guam

Hi Barbara! Could be. Worth trying anyway!