Chamorro treats make good New Year’s eats
The coconut trees are swaying, the ocean is still as blue as the sky and the temperature is still the same. So how can you tell that the holiday season is in full swing on Guam? One hint is the sweet smell of bunelos dagu (boo-NYE’-lus DAH’-goo).
This dessert is a traditional holiday fritter made from local yam. The deep-fried treat.
“Dågu is usually planted during these months and is grown for about a year,” said Roland Quitugua of the University of Guam. Preparation of the fritter is a tedious process that includes pulling the yam from the ground, cleaning and finely grating it.
For those looking to prepare bunelos dagu, be very careful as the sap from the yam can make a person’s hands very itchy. Be sure to use latex gloves while preparing the dish to avoid irritating your skin.
“I remember when I was younger and my dad would send me out to get dagu,” recalled local resident Mark Acosta. “It was a lot of hard work and our hands would get really itchy when we grated the dagu but it was worth it when he would cook it and we’d eat it with sweet syrup.”
Most people on Guam opt to enjoy the fritter with syrup as the doughnut itself is not sweet. Acosta said because the doughnut is prepared during this time of the year, it reminds island residents that the holiday season is here.
“Bunelos dagu is synonymous with Christmas on Guam,” he said. “When I was younger we’d always eat it during Christmas so when you grow up with those kinds of memories, it kind of sticks with you as you get older. Now, when I see bunelos dagu I know it’s time to shop for Christmas gifts.”
Instead of leaving cookies for Santa near the Christmas tree, give him a sweet taste of Guam with this delicious treat.
BUNELOS DAGU RECIPE
• Two pounds of dagu
• Two-thirds cup of sugar
• One-and-a-half cups of flour
• Two-and-a-half cups of water
• Five cups of vegetable oil
Peel the dagu with a standard vegetable peeler and grate finely into a large mixing bowl. For those with sensitive skin, please be sure to wear latex loves as the sap of the yam will cause itchiness.
Once your dagu is grated add flour, water and sugar and mix well. If your mixture seems too watery, add more flour as needed. The consistency should be similar to cake batter though slightly more solid.
Heat oil in a deep frying pan for five minutes. Take a handful of batter and squeeze portions of it between your thumb and index finger so the batter comes out from the opposite end of your hand. Portions should resemble the size of a golf ball. Fry for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with warm syrup.