Annie's Chamorro Kitchen: When some like it hot!

by Lt. Col. Annette Merfalen
Annie's Chamorro Kitchen

Spicy  Crackers


  • • 1 box saltine crackers
  • • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • • 2 packages ranch dressing mix
  • • 6 tablespoons hot pepper flakes


  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees .
  2. In a large shallow baking pan, spread out the saltine crackers.
  3. Pour the oil over the crackers; toss gently to ensure each cracker is coated with oil.
  4. Sprinkle the ranch dressing and pepper flakes over the oil-coated crackers. Mix gently (I use my hands to do this) to ensure there is seesoning and pepper on each crack.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes then remove the pan from the oven. Leave the crackers on the pan to cool then place them in a resealabte container to store.

Miso Donne' Dinanche (Miso Pepper Sauce)

onne’ Dinanche, or a hot pepper paste, has many variations. It can be made with just peppers and no other seasoning, or you can add other ingredients such as onions, garlic, coconut milk, vegetables, crab paste and lemon juice.

One variation that is quite popular — tasty too — adds miso paste to the mixture.

The resulting sauce — it’s more like a thick paste — is a spicy, salty, savory mixture that goes perfectly with grilled meat (or any meat dish, really) and hot steamed white rice.

Give my easy recipe a try. If you like spicy condiments, you’ll like this one. :)

These are some of the ingredients I used — a Japanese long purple eggplant (although any eggplant will do), yellow onions, fresh green beans, garlic (not pictured), lemon powder (not pictured) and ready-made Tinian donne’ dinanche.


  • 1 large Japanese purple eggplant (or 2 medium)
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 4 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 cup fresh green beans, thinly sliced
  • 1½ cups Japanese miso paste
  • 3 tablespoons donne’ dinanche (mashed hot chili peppers)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon powder, optional


  1. Dice the eggplant into small pieces; place in a large frying pan. Add the onion, garlic and coconut oil to the pan. Sauté over mediumhigh heat until the onions are translucent and the eggplant softens, about 5-7 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent the bottom from sticking to the pan and burning.
  2. Add the beans to the pan; stir to combine. Cook another 5 minutes to soften the beans. Add an additional tablespoon of coconut oil if the mixture appears too dry and is sticking to the pan.
  3. Add the miso paste; stir to combine. Mash the mixture slightly with the back of your cooking spoon.
  4. Add the pepper paste to the pan then turn off the heat (ensure your cooking area is well-ventilated when you add the pepper).

Add lemon powder, to taste (optional).

Fina'denne' - Chamorro 'Special Sauce'

Chamorro Special Sauce — that’s what my non-Chamorro friends call fina’denne’, the literal translation of which means made with pepper or donne’, the Chamorro word for hot chili pepper.

Fina’denne’ is a staple in most Chamorro homes. It’s served with most meals. Pour it over your freshly steamed rice or over your meat of choice. It’s sure to enhance your dining pleasure. :)

There are many, many ways to prepare fina’denne’. Soy sauce is usually the main ingredient; however, depending on the type of dish being served, you may choose to use salt instead. For instance, I prefer a salt-based fina’denne’ over grilled fish, but I love a soy saucebased fina’denne’ over fried fish.

The acidic ingredient is all up to you as well. You can use white vinegar, cider vinegar, coconut vinegar, lemon juice or lime juice… it’s all up to you. My brother, for example, likes only lemon or lime juice in his fina’denne’. I, on the other hand, like to vary the acid I use depending on what I’m eating. I mentioned fish above…I like a
soy-lemon fina’denne’ with fried fish, and either a salt-lemon or saltwhite vinegar fina’denne’ with grilled fish.

I also like using white vinegar when I add tomatoes to my fina’denne. Tomatoes and vinegar pair really well, you know, like how a vinaigrette dressing goes great with a tomato salad.

Be sure to taste as you go…you might like your fina’denne’ more on the salty side, or you might prefer it a bit more sour (which is how I like it).

I like a 1:1 ratio of soy sauce to vinegar. My husband prefers his fina’denne’ on the salty side, so when he makes it, he uses a 2:1 ratio of soy sauce to vinegar. In other words, if I were to make a cup of fina’denne, I’ll use 1/2 cup soy sauce and 1/2 cup vinegar. My husband, on the other hand, will make his using 1/2 cup soy sauce
and 1/4 cup vinegar.

Try making different varieties of fina’denne’ and decide for yourself your personal preference. But by all means, give it a try. I’m sure you too will love it. :)


  • Soy sauce, to taste (you can substitute the soy sauce with salt)
  • Vinegar, to taste (you can use any type of vinegar, or you can use lemon or lime juice)
  • Optional ingredients:
  • Green onions, as much as you like
  • White onions, diced, as much as you like
  • Hot chili peppers, as much as you can stand
  • Cherry tomatoes, diced or sliced
  • For this batch of fina’denne’, I used:
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 2 Serrano chili peppers
  • 4 stalks green onions
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes


  1. In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce and vinegar (or lemon juice if you prefer).
  2. I like adding hot green chili peppers to my fina’denne’, charring them slightly. You don’t have to char the peppers, but doing so brings out so much more of the  pepper’s flavor. I grilled these peppers over the flame of my gas stove. Use a metal skewer to keep the peppers together; it also makes it easier to turn the peppers over to ensure even grilling. My mom and one of my sisters loves using the red, super-hot Thai peppers in their fina’denne’. Those are great too, but beware! Those suckers are MOUTH-ON-FIRE H-O-T!!!
  3. Slice the peppers then add them to the bowl.
  4. Add the onions. I used green onions here, but you can use white or yellow onions too.
  5. Add the tomatoes.
  6. Stir to combine.
  7. Pour over your rice and meat and dig in! ENJOY! :)

For fina’denne’ at your fingertips and ready when you want it, buy a plastic squeeze bottle and fill it with fina’denne’, the liquid mixture only. Squeeze bottles are sold at most grocery stores, but I bought this one at our local Korean store. Add onions, tomatoes and peppers on the side when you’re ready to serve up your meal.

Annie's Chamorro Kitchen website

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