Chamorro comfort soup
Chalakilis brings back happy, precious memories of Sunday gatherings with my family and mom (Charo) proudly cooking for her children.
Aside from the smell of fresh breads, cakes or pies, Rosquettes (cookies), there were the Cadon Manog (Chicken) or Cadon Carne (Beef), both similar to stews or soups, Hagon Suni (young taro leaves in coconut milk–our spinach), Chalakilis and many more absolutely wonderful Chamorro delicacies. Mom was popular with many relatives and friends because of her cooking or baking.
Oh yes ... Chalakilis. Ingredients for the Chalakilis can include vegetables; chicken, crabmeat or beef along with cornmeal, rice, even grits, etc. Mom’s way of making the Chamorro recipe goes as follows...
Use a medium to large soup pot.
• 2 cups of diced (bite-sized) chicken (both white or dark meat)
Note: crabmeat or beef is also great to use
• 3 tbsp of finely diced onions
• 1 cup finely diced celery
• 1 cup finely diced string beans
• 1 cup finely diced green papaya (peel papaya, remove seeds, wash thoroughly, sliced an diced
Note: other vegetables (gollai) such as pumpkin or squash could also be used
• 4 tbsp Achote seeds soaked in 1 cup hot water; when water turns orangish-red, using cooking gloves if you do not want to use your hands directly, rub seeds together to release the colored spice. Strain water into another cup for seasoning; salt
• 1 tsp black pepper
• 1/2 coconut milk
• 4 cups water
• 1 ½ to 2 cups of rice (rice must be roasted to golden brown), then grind; or wrap in cheesecloth and mash into small pieces with a rolling pin
• 2 tbsp of olive oil or coconut oil
• A pinch of garlic powder or 2 gloves of garlic (diced)
1. Add oil to soup pot, turn on stove to high. When oil heats up, lower heat to medium high. Add onions, garlic and chicken (or your choice of meat, etc), black pepper, a pinch of salt to suit your taste, and sauté together for about 3 minutes. Add 4 cups of water and achote water. Bring to a boil slowly on medium heat. When it boils, add rice. Simmer slowly on medium to low heat until the rice thickens (if not thickening add a bit more of the roasted, ground rice).
2. As it begins to boil add vegetables (you do not want to overcook the vegetables). Let it boil for 2 minutes, add coconut milk, stir and turn of the stove. Keep it covered for five to ten minutes. Serve in a bowl or cup. Chalakilis is a meal in itself. This is especially wonderful on a rainy day. Enjoy.