A Guam favorite, these vegan CHamoru empanådas are crispy on the outside, and filled with a delicious spicy toasted rice filling. Its beautiful red hue is what makes this different and totally unique to the island of Guam. It’s perfect for on-the-go, quick meal, and the perfect afternoon snack. (Trust me, I ate this a lot after school, it was my favorite!) These take a little bit of time and patience to make, but boy, it’s definitely worth it. One thing I forgot to mention, is that this dish is naturally gluten-free!
I wanted to thank my friend, Crista, for helping me perfect this recipe. She actually gave me her recipe as a guide and gave me some good tips to create this veganized version!
Empanådas (ehm-pah-naw-dah), is very popular around the world. A lot of countries have their own take of an empanåda. But generally speaking, they’re usually a crispy outer crust and usually filled with meat, vegetables, or rice. The red hue on these CHamoru empanadas is something to pay attention to. Not only does it give these empanadas their beautiful red color, but it also adds aroma and flavor.
The secret to this is the use of annatto seed powder or in CHamoru, achote. Not only does it give the crust that vibrant red color, but it’s also used in the filling as well. Achote not only adds a natural color, but it gives the dish a nuttier flavor. A lot of Guam dishes use achote to their dishes, and it’s a very distinct taste that you won’t get anywhere else. I actually love the smell of achote, it’s very reminiscent for me, and definitely takes me back home.
Another factor that makes this empanada unique is the use of chalakiles (cha-lah-kee-lehs). So what is it? Chalakiles, another comfort food for most CHamoru people, is actually a soup. Think of it as a different kind of rice porridge. It also uses achote/annatto seed powder for that lovely red color and flavor. Filled with toasted rice, chicken, garlic, onions, coconut milk, and some chili peppers. Another delicious dish! Since chalakiles is a form of soup, it’s cooked a bit thicker to fill up the empanadas.
Personally, this is another favorite of mine, and I know, I say this a lot about Guam food. But it’s true, and remaking all these foods from my past is just bringing me closer to home. I ate this mostly as an after school snack. My mom would pick me up, and take me to the nearest mom and pop store for a drink and a snack. Instead of chips, I always picked up an empanada because it was just so filling and I love the spice. Now that I think about it, I think empanadas trained me for my love of spicy food. Depending on the seller, sometimes they were super spicy and sometimes they weren’t. Regardless, it was such a delicious and cheap snack to have.
If you’d tried this recipe out let me know in the comments! Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @flouredframe and don’t forget to tag me when you create my recipes! Happy cooking!
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