17 Famous Guamanian Food Dishes

Guamanian dishes demonstrate the combination of Chamorro cooking traditions and influences from Spain, Japan, the US, and more.

Lastest Updated April 19, 2024
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Basic Information

Guamanian Food: Basic Overview

Common Ingredients

Seafood, meat, tubers, vegetables, fruits, spices.

Common Cooking Methods

Simmering, deep-frying, baking, boiling.

Courses

Main Course, Desserts, Appetizer.

Meals

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

Key Taste

Savory, sweet, sour.

Eating Etiquette

Treat elders with respect; serve plenty of food at fiestas; encourage guests to eat a lot and take home leftovers.

Meal Presentation

Prepare food with a colorful appearance; arrange dishes at fiesta tables with traditional placement rules; use utensils made from natural materials.

Culinary Festivals

Christmas, New Year’s Day

Influence and Fusion

Guamanian cuisine is significantly influenced by native Chamorro, Spanish, Mexican, Filipino, Japanese, and American cooking traditions.
Origin and Region

Guamanian Food: Origin and Region

Cuisine

Guam

Cuisine’s Geographical Territory

Micronesia
Guam Map
Ingredients and Preparation

Popular Types of Guamanian Food

  • Stews

    Guamanian stews are heavy on meat, vegetables, and condiments.

    These dishes are usually savory, with the added flavors of sourness or creaminess, depending on the ingredients.

    Certain dishes incorporate spices and condiments from other regions, especially Asia.

  • Desserts

    Guamanian desserts come in many forms, such as puddings and cakes.

    Their main ingredients include flour, sugar, dairy, coconut milk, and spices.

    Most desserts in Guam have a sweet flavor and are cooked by baking, frying, or boiling.

  • Snacks

    Snacks in Guam are usually sweet and crispy in texture.

    Certain types of Guamanian pastries and dough-based dishes count as snacks.

    Many snacks are also served as desserts and street food.

Guamanian dishes are the delicacies of Guam Island, which is inhabited by the Chamorro (or CHamoru) people.

While Guam is a US territory, its cuisine is characteristically Oceanic. Local dishes are strongly influenced by native Chamorro, Spanish, Mexican, Filipino, Japanese, and American culinary offerings.

In Guam, people often turn to fish, bananas, taro, rice, fowl, yams, breadfruit, and coconuts. Meat is also essential to Guamanian cuisine.

Let’s start this journey by looking at the most important aspects of traditional Guamanian food, along with other essential facts like its global prevalence and healthfulness.

Then, I will show you the 17 most popular Guamanian dishes. Let me guide you through the origin, dish type, main ingredients, preparation methods, accompaniments, and varieties of these specialties.

Next, I will tell you about the characteristics of Guamanian culture and common beverages for pairing with local dishes.

Traditional Guamanian food refers to time-honored dishes hailing from the island of Guam. Such dishes have the following common characteristics.

Culinary Diversity

Modern Guamian cuisine is a rich culinary tapestry of various influences that have affected Guam throughout the eons.

Seafood

As an island, Guam features seafood extensively in its food offerings, including both raw and cooked forms.

Coconut

Coconut milk and freshly grated coconut are staple ingredients for many Guamanian recipes.
Spam and Canned Goods

Due to the American military presence, Guam has a notable consumption of Spam and other canned meats, which have been creatively incorporated into local dishes.

Fiery Heat

The love of spice and heat is a hallmark of Guamanian cuisine. Spicy sauces and condiments accompany many local dishes, but there are many ways to adjust the heat level to individual preference.

Fiestas

In Guam, fiestas (lavish Chamorro parties) are an important part of special occasions and gatherings. A traditional fiesta table includes various dishes, from BBQ meats and red rice to desserts and snacks.

In the following section, you will discover how prevalent Guamian dishes are beyond their home island.

Thanks to the migration of Chamorros to the US, Guamanian cuisine is present in many parts of the US, especially in large cities. However, Guamanian dishes have a limited presence outside the US.

Next, I will cover the reasons contributing to the healthy aspects of Guamnian dishes.

With the right approaches, Guamanian dishes can be tailored to fit a healthy diet. Below is a breakdown of the factors that make this possible.

Local Ingredients

Guamanian cuisine often emphasizes fresh, locally sourced fruits, vegetables, and seafood. These ingredients are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other essential nutrients.

Lean Proteins

Traditional dishes in Guam often include lean protein sources, such as seafood and chicken. They are lower in saturated fats compared to red meats.

Spices and Herbs

Spices and herbs appear in many Guamanian dishes. With a high concentration of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances, these aromatic ingredients impart many health benefits to local dishes.

A Note of Caution

Despite their healthy aspects, Guamian dishes can sometimes be high in saturated fats, salt, and sugar, so moderate consumption is important if you want to include these dishes in a healthy way.

In particular, modern interpretations of Guamanian dishes, especially those prepared with processed food, shouldn’t be eaten in excess.

Remember this advice, and you can safely enjoy my upcoming Guamanian dish suggestions to the fullest.

17 Glorious Guamanian Dishes

Keep on reading to discover 17 fantastic dishes from Guamanian cuisine. I have ranked these options in order of popularity for your ease of reference. Filter my list according to alphabetical sorting, main ingredients, taste, cooking methods, dish types, courses, and global popularity.

Moreover, you can navigate my food suggestions based on popular, traditional, street food, and exotic options.

  • In Guam, the most popular dishes are enjoyed throughout the year and in multiple settings.
  • These dishes are ideal breakfast, lunch, or dinner options.
  • These dishes are loved for their traditional presentation and satisfying flavors.
  • From hearty stews to delicious desserts, these dishes are a staple on family tables and in local eateries.
  • Traditional dishes in Guam are time-honored recipes passed down through generations.
  • They are deeply rooted in the country’s cultural practices and vary from region to region.
  • These dishes carry the Pacific Islander essence of Guamanian cooking arts and traditions dating back centuries.
  • While some dishes were created after the European contacts, they are still considered national dishes because of their cultural significance.
  • Street food in Guam is all about quick, delicious, and accessible eats.
  • Found on bustling streets and lively markets, these snacks and small meals are perfect for on-the-go eating.
  • Kelaguen is a popular dish in Guam, but its preparation involves some steps that people from other regions may find peculiar.
  • This dish provides an adventurous dining experience that can delight those unfamiliar with the depth of Guamanian culinary art.
Kelaguen

Kelaguen

  • Exotic
  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Kelaguen is a marinated seafood or meat dish in Guam. It was adapted from a similar Filipino dish called kilawin.

Locals prepare kelaguen by immersing raw meat or seafood in a blend of lemon juice, hot chili peppers, grated coconut, and scallions. The result is a tangy, spicy, and creamy dish.

Mainstream variations are kelaguen uhang (with raw shrimp) and kelaguen mannok (with grilled chicken).

You can enjoy Kelaguen as an appetizer, side dish, or entree that goes well with rice, tortillas, or titiyas (Guamnian flour tortillas).

Eneksa Agaga

Eneksa Agaga

  • Traditional

Eneksa agaga, also known as Saipan red rice, is a traditional rice dish from Guam. Locals normally enjoy it as a side dish at Chamorro fiestas and everyday meals.

To prepare eneksa agaga, people simply simmer rice with bacon, onions, and annatto seeds. The last ingredient is essential in creating an outstanding orange-red hue.

Chalakiles

Chalakiles

  • Traditional

Chalakiles is a traditional Guamanian chicken soup made with onions, garlic, toasted ground rice, achiote (annatto) powder, and coconut milk. Some versions also feature crab meat and additional vegetables.

The toasted ground rice thickens the soup, while achiote powder adds a characteristic earthy hue to chalakiles. Meanwhile, coconut milk imparts a luscious creaminess.

Chalakiles takes center stage during many Chamorro festivities and is served piping hot alongside steamed rice.

The Chamorro chicken soup is a perfect substitute for kå’du fanihi, a soup traditionally made with fruit bats (now an endangered species in Guam).

Fina Denne

Fina’denne’

  • Traditional

Fina’denne’ is a popular Guamanian condiment and a hallmark of Chamorro cooking. Also known as finadene, it is a salt and pepper mixture evolving with the region’s rich cultural history.

Modern fina’denne’ has spicy chili peppers, tangy vinegar or lemon juice, and an umami-rich of soy sauce, onions, and chili peppers. These ingredients were added through contacts with Europeans, Filipinos, and the Japanese.

There are countless fina’denne’ variations with different ingredients. Guamanians whip up Fina’denne’ by simply stirring the ingredients together to use as a dipping sauce or a condiment.

Titiyas

Titiyas

  • Traditional

Titiyas, pronounced as ta-tee-jas, is a thick, soft flatbread hailing from Guam. It’s a comforting snack or accompaniment to savory Guamanian foods.

Titiyas’ main ingredients are all-purpose flour, baking powder, coconut milk, sugar, and either lard or shortening. While this flatbread might remind you of flour tortillas in Mexico or the US, it is noticeably thicker.

Månha titiyas and lemmai titiyas are two popular versions, which incorporate young coconut meat and breadfruit, respectively.

Kadon Pika

Kadon Pika

  • Traditional

Kadon pika is a traditional stew in Guam, combining a blend of chicken, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, onions, coconut milk, and hot chili peppers. The word “kadun” or “kadon” signifies dishes simmered in a flavorful broth.

Kadon pika boasts an irresistibly sour and spicy flavor. Locals often ladle it over steamed rice, eneksa agaga, cooked vegetables, or gollai hågun suni (Chamorro spinach cooked in coconut milk).

Guyuria

Guyuria

  • Traditional

Guyuria is a Guamanian cookie of Chamorro people, famous for its long shelf life. Interestingly, its texture is so hard that people nickname it jawbreakers.

Typical guyuria consists of all-purpose flour, butter, coconut milk, and baking powder. The resulting cookies are deep-fried and coated with a sugar glaze.

Guyuria made without butter is highly brittle, while the larger ones can surprise you with a softer inside.

Kalamai

Kalamai

  • Traditional

Kalamai, also known as Chamorro corn pudding or coconut gelatin, is a well-known Guamanian dessert. Pronounced ka-la-my, it was inspired by kalamay (Filipino sweet sticky rice).

This red-hued corn pudding combines masa harina, cornstarch, sugar, water, coconut milk, and aromatics like vanilla or cinnamon. The ingredients are boiled together to create a dessert with a unique bouncy texture.

Among renowned Guamnian sweet treats, kalamai is in the same league as mado’ya (banana fritters), champalado (chocolate rice pudding), and bonelos (yam donuts).

Latiya

Latiya

  • Traditional

Latiya, or lantiya, is a Guamanian sponge cake covered with vanilla custard. It originated from the Spanish cake recipes introduced to Guam between the 17th and 19th centuries.

Latiya features a layer of rich vanilla custard made of butter, evaporated milk, coconut milk, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, and cinnamon. The base is a sponge cake using all-purpose flour, baking powder, butter, eggs, and sugar.

Today, many latiya recipes can replace the sponge cake with a pound cake, yellow cake, or angel food cake.

Tinaktak

Tinaktak

  • Traditional

Tinaktak is a Guamanian stew from Guam that cooks the main ingredients in spiced coconut milk. Locals typically prepare it with chopped meat (commonly beef), green beans, tomatoes, and onions.

In some tinaktak variations, seafood is the main protein source. Tinaktak often goes with steamed rice as the main course.

Roskette

Roskette

  • Traditional

Roskette, or rosketti, is a Guamanian cornstarch cookie that doubles as a snack or dessert. It calls for a mix of cornstarch, flour, baking powder, sugar, butter, milk, eggs, and vanilla.

The texture of this cornstarch-based cookie ranges from crumbly to quite hard after baking. Traditional roskettes come in a ring or coil-like shape, adding an artistic touch.

Bunelos Uhang

Buñelos Uhang

  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Buñelos uhang is a shrimp fritter from Guam. It first appeared in the 1920s and was inspired by American fritters.

People often make buñelos uhang by deep-frying a mixture of shrimp, flour, evaporated milk, eggs, onions, green beans, garlic, and, occasionally, beer.

Also known as Chamorro shrimp patty, buñelos uhang makes a delightful appetizer. Some buñelos uhang variations feature Spam (salty canned pork), while others replace shrimp with fruits to serve as a dessert.

Tinala Katne

Tinala’ Katne

  • Traditional

Tinala’ katne is a well-known dish of cured and dried beef in Guam. When Spaniards introduced cattle to the island in the 17th century, beef-related dishes became popular, with tinala’ katne as a beloved choice.

Tinala’ katne, meaning “dry meat,” is prepared by curing beef with vinegar, garlic, salt, and black pepper. The flavorful dry beef is similar to beef jerky and makes a tasty main course when paired with eneksa agaga and fresh vegetables.

Hotnon Babui

Hotnon Babui

  • Traditional

Hotnon babui is a traditional Guamanian specialty made by spit-roasting a whole pig. This roasted pig is often the centerpiece of fiestas (lavish Chamorro parties).

Guamanians use the technique of chinahan to prepare this specialty. They roast the pig for hours in a spit lined with heat-retaining lava stones, creating juicy pork encased in crispy skin.

Hotnon babui only calls for pork and water used for basting. Its unique preparation method makes it an emblem of Guam’s culinary landscape.

Bunelos Aga

Bunelos Aga

  • Traditional

Bunelos Aga is a famous fried dough snack in Guam. It is the Chamorro version of bunuelos, the beloved fried dough fritter found in many Spanish-speaking countries.

The deep-fried snack or dessert fritter is made with ripe bananas, flour, baking powder, and sugar. You can encounter bunelos aga under a different name, like Chamorro banana doughnuts.

Estufao

Estufao

  • Traditional

Estufao is a time-honored meat stew from Guam. It is the go-to main dish with steamed rice on many Guamanian tables.

People make estufao by simmering pieces of meat (like chicken, beef, or pork) with onions, potatoes, garlic, soy sauce, water, vinegar, and spices. The ingredient list varies from place to place, but soy sauce is a must.

Tamales Gisu

Tamåles Gisu

  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Tamåles gisu is a Guamanian dough-based dish based on the classic Mexican tamales. It is famous for its half-white, half-reddish-orange appearance.

The unique hue of this tamale-like dish comes from the mix of cornmeal, annatto seeds, bacon (or chicken), garlic, onions, water, and spices. The meat usually goes with the red part, while the white part stays plain.

Unlike its Mexican cousin, tamåles gisu is wrapped in banana leaves or aluminum foil and made by steaming, not baking. Tamåles gisu is a popular side dish that adds color to the tables at Chamorro fiestas.

What Makes Guamanian Dishes Special?

Guamanian Dishes Special
Traditional Guamanian dishes on display: roast pork, yellow rice, and vegetables.

Guamanian dishes are special because of the following four factors: culinary influences, Chamorro traditions, fiestas, and local ingredients.

Guamanian foods are a blend of indigenous Chamorro, Spanish, Mexican, Filipino, Japanese, and American flavors.

Initially, the Chamorro diet only featured tubers, local vegetables, tropical fruits, seafood, fowl, etc. The 17th-century Spanish conquest dramatically changed Guam’s culinary landscape with Spanish, Filipino, and Mexican influences.

Fast forward to the 20th century, Guam went under Japanese and later American control, which brought a wave of Japanese and American cooking influences.

Chamorro people are the original inhabitants of the Mariana Islands, including Guam, and are the driving force behind traditional Guamanian foods; many traditional Guamanian dishes have Chamorro roots.

An example is the practice of holding fiestas with an abundance of dishes to celebrate special occasions.

Fiestas are large feasts that locals organize to celebrate public holidays, birthdays, or Catholic patron saints, knitting together the community over mouth-watering meals. Visitors are not only welcome but encouraged to take leftovers home.

These events also draw in tourists hungry for a taste of Guam’s rich culinary tradition and contribute to the local economy.

In terms of important Chamorro food ingredients, rice, taro, breadfruit, and corn are starch staples. Tropical fruits and vegetables, particularly coconut, colorfully accent the plates.

Meat comes mostly from pork and seafood, while fiery hot chili peppers and annatto seeds add a robust depth of flavor. Moreover, vinegar and soy sauce are favorites in the condiment department.

A combo of Guamanian dishes and beverages will help you appreciate local cuisine better, so check out my pairing recommendations in the next section.

What Beverages to Pair With Guamanian Dishes?

Guamanian Dishes Pair with Beverages
High-quality craft beer is an excellent beverage for spicy and savory Guamanian dishes.

In the world of Guamanian dishes, the choice of beverages can add lovely highlights to traditional foods. Below are three excellent drinks to try in Guam and their ideal accompaniments.

Craft Beer

Guamanian craft beer goes well with seafood, grilled specialties, and spicy or heavily seasoned dishes, such as kelaguen, tinala’ katne, and hotnon babui.

Wine

Both traditional and Western-style wines are popular in Guam, with tubâ, a Filipino-origin fermented beverage made from palm sap, as an exquisite choice.

In general, wine can balance the savory or spicy flavors of many Guamanian dishes, such as Tinaktak, chalakiles, and kadon pika.

Cocktails

Calamansi basil lemonade and Blue Lagoon are well-known cocktails in Guam. Their mix of sweet, tart, and creamy flavors pairs perfectly with light dishes, snacks, and desserts, including eneksa agaga, guyuria, and latiya.

If you love flavorful Guamanian dishes, don’t forget to share my list with your friends. Do you have something to say about these amazing dishes? Drop a comment below; I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Jamie Scott

Jamie Scott

Editor in Chief, Senior Content Writer

Expertise

Home Cooking, Meal Planning, Recipe Development, Baking and Pastry, Food Editor, Cooking-video Maker, Western Food Evaluation Expert

Education

Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts

  • Program: Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts
  • Focus: Gained foundational knowledge in French and European culinary techniques. Participated in workshops and hands-on training sessions under the guidance of seasoned chefs.

Local Community College, New York, NY

  • Program: Associate’s Degree in Nutrition
  • Focus: Acquired basic understanding of nutrition principles, dietary needs, and the importance of balanced diets in daily life.

Jamie Scott is a skilled culinary expert and content creator specializing in Western cuisine. With over 15 years in the culinary field and formal training from Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, Jamie deeply understands how to blend nutrition with delicious flavors. His passion for cooking matches his commitment to making healthy eating accessible and enjoyable.

On Fifteen.net, Jamie brings a fresh perspective to classic dishes and beverages, offering readers insightful recipes, cooking tips, and a fresh view on meal planning that emphasizes taste, health, and simplicity.

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