Guam Kitchen: 4 delicious Chamorro kadu recipes

Guam Kitchen: 4 delicious Chamorro kadu recipes

by Army Lt. Col. (Ret.) Annette Merfalen
Annie's Chamorro Kitchen

Chicken Soup (Kadun Manuk)

Kadu is the Chamorro term for soup or broth.  Think of it as Chamorro Comfort Food.  It could be 90 degrees outside on Guam, but serve some kadu for lunch or dinner and chances are, you’ll forget your worries–and the hot weather–as you enjoy a steaming bowl of delicious soup.

There isn’t a particular occasion that kadu is served.  If made at home, kadu is usually served as the main course — chicken, beef or other kadu is the starring attraction, served over steamed rice with fina’denne’ on the side.  Whereas if you see kadu at parties, it’s usually something more along the lines of a drinkable soup, like Chamorro Corn Soup or Beef Soup with Noodles and Vegetables.

Growing up, kadu was made using whatever we had on hand.  Most often my mom would make chicken kadu, using the chickens raised in our yard, of course.  She’d also add whatever vegetables my dad happened to be growing at our ranch, or vegetables growing in the back yard.  My favorite vegetables to add to kadu were squash and pumpkin tips, and if we had some potatoes and onions, into the pot they went as well.  Freshly squeezed coconut milk was a must; that was usually my job when I was younger — grating the coconut then pressing out the thick and creamy milk.

Give my recipe a try.  It’s great for those bleary days when warm chicken soup seems to be the only thing to chase the cold away.  Find my complete recipe at the bottom of this post.  My recipe makes enough to serve 6-8 people, plus enough left over to pack lunch the next day.


• 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into small pieces
• 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
• 6 drumsticks
• 1 large onion, sliced
• 1 teaspoon black pepper
• 4 tablespoons chicken seasoning (or powdered chicken bouillon)
• 10 small red potatoes, peeled and cut in half
• 4 cups water
• 8 bunches baby bok choy, leaves separated
• 6 medium zucchini squash, peeled and sliced into 1-inch pieces
• 2 cans coconut milk


1. Prepare your vegetables. Peel and cut your vegetables in to large chunks. I used zucchini, potatoes and baby bok choy in this version; you can use your favorite vegetables.

Peel the zucchini and thickly slice them. I sliced these about 3/4 to 1 inch thick.

Separate the baby bok choy leaves. Rinse each leaf thoroughly to remove all dirt trapped in between the leaves.

Peel and cut the potatoes into large chunks. I used small red potatoes and cut them half. Place the cut potatoes in cold water to keep them from oxidizing and turning brown.

Set all the vegetables aside for now while you cook the chicken.

2. Place the chicken into a large pot along with sliced onions, chopped garlic, chicken seasoning and black pepper.

3. Cook the chicken over medium-high heat until done.

4. Add the potatoes to the pot along with enough water to cover the potatoes. Cover the pot and bring the soup to a boil. Cook the potatoes for about 8-10 minutes or until they are almost done (the potatoes should still be a bit difficult to pierce easily with a fork). The potatoes will continue cooking when you add the rest of the vegetables.

5. Add the zucchini to the pot once the potatoes are just about done. It doesn’t take long for squash to cook, so be sure to add them to the pot at the end. Replace the lid on the pot; cook the squash for just a few minutes.

6. Baby bok choy also cooks very quickly. In fact, the steam from the pot will cook the tender leaves sufficiently.  Add the bok choy leaves to the pot once the squash is done then turn the heat to low; replace the lid on the pot.

It takes just a couple of minutes for the bok choy to wilt. Turn off the heat once it does.

7. All that’s left to do is stir in the coconut milk. You don’t want to boil coconut milk or it will separate after prolonged cooking.  The soup is quite hot at this point, hot enough to warm the coconut milk, which is all you need to do. Give it a stir, then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Add more salt (or chicken seasoning) and pepper, to taste.

8. Serve with steamed white rice and fina’denne’.


My family loves both Gumbo and Jambalaya. Today, we couldn’t decide which dish to make so I combined the two and made a combo that I call Gumbo-laya. ;)

What’s the difference, you ask?

Gumbo is a soup, made with a base of a very dark roux (made from cooking oil and flour until it turns dark brown). Gumbo also has okra, which helps to thicken the soup. The meat in gumbo depends on what you prefer, but it usually has some type of sausage (usually pork Andouille sausage) and seafood (shrimp and lump crab meat).

Jambalaya is a rice dish (not soupy at all) where the rice is cooked with the meat, along with onions, celery, peppers, stock and seasonings. It does not contain a roux since it isn’t soupy. Jambalaya also usually adds tomatoes.

My Gumbo-laya has a combo of the two. It’s soupy, uses a roux (but not a dark one) to thicken it, has okra and tomatoes along with the trinity of onions, celery and peppers, and of course, rice too. I use a wild rice medley in this recipe to up the health factor, but you can use the rice you have on hand.

Speaking of healthy, this recipe is actually pretty nutritious, believe it or not. Aside from the 1/2 cup of flour I used to make the roux, everything else is good for you. Here are the highlights:

•Organic chicken stock made from free-range chickens
•Turkey kielbasa instead of traditional high-fat Andouille sausage
•Heart healthy olive oil (a good fat), and only a couple of tablespoons, not a half CUP like traditional gumbo
•Organic wild rice

To keep the health benefits high, you can omit the shrimp and use shredded boneless, skinless chicken breast instead.

Give my recipe a try. It’s delicious…and I think you’ll like it. :)


• 1 package turkey kielbasa
• 1 medium onion, diced
• 4 celery stalks, diced
• 1 green bell pepper, diced
• 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 quarts chicken stock
• 1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined shrimp
• 1/2 teaspoon paprika
• 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
• 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
• 1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained
• 1 cup wild rice medley
• 3 cups sliced okra (you can use frozen okra)
• 3 stalks green onions
• Optional: Tabasco sauce


1. Slice the kielbasa into 1/4-inch pieces, then cut each piece half. Place the sausage into a large soup pot.

2. Add the onions, bell peppers and celery to the pot. Cook over medium high heat until the onions are translucent.

3. Make a small well in the middle of the pot by pushing the sausage mixture to the side. Pour the olive oil into the well.

4. Pour the flour (all at once) into the well, on top of the olive oil. Stir the flour and oil together, then stir it into the sausage mixture.

5. Pour the chicken stock into the pot, stirring as you pour.

6. Add the shrimp and chopped garlic to the pot. Place a lid on the pot; continue to cook over medium high heat.

7. In a small bowl (I used the measuring cup I used for the flour–why dirty more dishes?), mix the spices/seasonings together (paprika, sea salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, dried oregano, dried thyme).

8. Stir the seasonings into the pot.

9. Add the drained tomatoes.

10. Add the rice.

11. Add the okra.

12. Turn the heat down to medium low and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the rice is done. Stir occasionally. Taste to adjust for seasonings. Optional: Add a few shakes of Tabasco sauce.

Sprinkle sliced green onions on top, serve and ENJOY!

Shrimp Kadu

Shrimp Kadu is traditionally made with shrimp

that still has the head and shell on, which adds so much more flavor to the dish. I actually prefer to cook this dish with headless, shell-on shrimp, but you can use shrimp that has been shelled. One thing is certain, however. You MUST use raw shrimp in this dish; it just won’t taste the same if you use pre-cooked shrimp.

Fresh green beans, if you can find any, is another “must have” in this recipe. Don’t used canned green beans. If you can’t find fresh, frozen will suffice–just do not use canned beans. Again, it just won’t taste the same.

Tomatoes, on the other hand, can be fresh or stewed. I tend to use stewed tomatoes, mainly because I don’t really like cooked tomato skins that you’ll get from fresh tomatoes. The type of tomato you use is entirely up to you.

Give my recipe a try. I think you’ll like it.  :)


• 1 small onion, diced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 cups fresh green beans, cut into about 2″ pieces
• 1 can stewed tomatoes, drained (cut them smaller if you like)
• 2 pounds shrimp, uncooked, shell on (no heads)
• 2 cans coconut milk
• salt to taste
• pepper to taste
• a squeeze of lime juice (about half a lime)


1. In a medium soup pot, sauté the onions and garlic over medium heat, just until the onions become translucent.

2. Add the green beans; cook for about 3 minutes, or until the beans are JUST starting to wilt (do not overcook).

3. Add the tomatoes and shrimp. Cook for 5 minutes or until the shrimp is no longer translucent (the shells will start to turn pink).

4. Add the coconut milk. There should be enough milk to cover the top of the shrimp; add more coconut milk if you like lots of kadu over your rice (I like my rice swimming in coconut milk kadu, so I use lots of coconut milk when making this dish). Simmer over low heat until the coconut milk is warmed through — DO NOT bring the kadu to a boil or else the coconut milk will separate and the milk will look like it’s curdled.

5. Add salt and pepper to taste, then add the squeeze of lime juice. Stir to combine. Serve over hot white rice and ENJOY.

My friend, Yvonne, and her daughter made some shrimp kadu — this is their version of the dish, made with shrimp with only the tails on.  Doesn’t it look scrumptious?

Chicken Chalakiles

Chicken Chalakiles is one of my favorite Chamorro comfort foods.  It’s a soup made with chicken, onions and garlic, thickened with toasted ground rice, and made even more rich with the addition of coconut milk.


• 2 cups uncooked rice
• 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
• 3 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into small pieces
• 1 med onion, diced
• 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
• 1 tablespoon coconut oil
• ½ teaspoon black pepper
• 3 tablespoons chicken seasoning*
• 10 cups water*
• 1 packet achote powder
• 1 can (14-oz) coconut milk
• Red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
*Note: You

can use chicken broth instead of water; omit the water AND chicken seasoning if using chicken broth.


1. Place the uncooked rice in a skillet over medium heat. Cook for a few minutes until the rice is evenly browned, stirring occasionally to ensure even browning. Let the toasted rice cool then grind in a food processor until you get the consistency of cornmeal. Set aside.

2. Place the chicken, onion, garlic, coconut oil and black pepper into a large soup pot. Cook over medium heat until the chicken is no longer pink.

3. Add the chicken seasoning, water, achote powder and ground rice to the pot. Stir to combine the ingredients then bring the mixture to a boil. Cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Stir in the coconut milk; cook for a couple of minutes then remove from the heat.

Serves: 8 servings
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 40 mins

Subscribe to our Stripes Pacific newsletter and receive amazing travel stories, great event info, cultural information, interesting lifestyle articles and more directly in your inbox!

Follow us on social media!

Facebook: Stars and Stripes Pacific
Flipboard: Stars and Stripes Community Sites

Looking to travel while stationed abroad? Check out our other Pacific community sites!
Stripes Japan
Stripes Okinawa
Stripes Korea

Related Content

Recommended Content

Around the Web