Whether your autumn winds are chilly or scorching, you can still escape with me to Guam for some cool ocean breezes and refreshing Chamorro cuisine.
Kelaguen is a ceviche-style dish in which the acid in the lemon juice “cooks” the fish, or in the case of grilled chicken, serves as a delicious marinade. Freshly grated coconut, green onions, and chili peppers round out the island flavors.
While visiting Guam, some vegetarian friends taught me how to make soy chicken kelaguen. Now I have to confess that even though I am practically vegan myself, I am not a big fan of soy chicken. The kelaguen marinade, however, completely transformed the soy chicken and I could not stop eating it. It was that delicious.
I have a new version of kelaguen to introduce to you today: Mushroom Kelaguen. While not a traditional ingredient (I’m pretty sure mine is the first mushroom kelaguen ever made), mushrooms are a perfect fit for this tangy, lemony dish. And luckily, kelaguen is naturally gluten-free!
One of the secrets to a good kelaguen is freshly grated coconut. Freshly grated coconut is not the same thing as dried, shredded coconut and will not give the same results. Much the same way that orange powdered cheese is not a satisfactory replacement for a good Wisconsin cheddar.
Luckily you can find good frozen grated coconut in Asian/Filipino markets, which is a decent replacement for fresh.
Look for frozen grated coconut without added sugar or preservatives. If you are a coconut fan, you should buy more than one package, because you will certainly want to try it out in cakes, muffins, and other recipes as well.
Frozen grated coconut comes in one pound packages. To use it, simply thaw a package, measure and set aside what you need, then use a half-cup measuring cup to make 1/2 cup mounds from the remaining grated coconut. Place the coconut mounds on a baking tray and put the baking tray in the freezer until frozen like ice cubes. Then transfer the coconut cubes to a freezer bag and store in the freezer. When you want more grated coconut, just take out the amount you need and thaw. Nothing could be easier!
- 2-3 lemons, juiced
- 2 pounds white mushrooms, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1-1/2 cups grated coconut, fresh or frozen (thawed)
- 2 green onions, finely chopped
- 4-6 small red chilies, finely chopped
- Juice the lemons and set aside the juice. Rub the inside of your food processor (if using) and cutting board with the insides of the juiced lemons. This will give some protection against mushroom discoloration.
- Slice mushrooms in a food processor or by hand. A food processor will give very thinly sliced mushrooms. If you slice them by hand you don't need to slice as thinly as a food processor would, aim for about 1/8 inch wide slices.
- Cross-cut the slices in both directions to make small pieces, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch. Don't worry if a few pieces come out too large. You can always cut them with your spatula while cooking the mushrooms.
- Melt the coconut oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat and add the finely chopped mushrooms. They will likely fill the pan close to overflowing, so stir carefully until they cook down a bit and let their water out. Two pounds of mushrooms chopped like this will shrink down to 3-4 cups. Cook the mushrooms, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes until most of the water has evaporated.
- Add the sea salt and stir. Cook for 15-20 minutes longer to coax out and reduce any remaining water. A little moisture when you press down on the mushrooms with a spatula or spoon is OK. Just so there is no liquid in the pan.
- While the mushrooms are cooking you can prepare the coconut (if grating fresh), and chop the green onions and red chilies. If you don't like chili heat, remove the membranes and seeds from inside the chilies before chopping.
- When the mushrooms are cooked, transfer them to a bowl and add the grated coconut, green onions, and red chilies. Stir to combine.
- Add the lemon juice to the mushroom mixture. Start with 1/2 cup and stir to combine. Taste, and add more lemon juice if desired. Add more sea salt if desired.
- Enjoy! Can be eaten at room temperature or chilled. Serve as a salad or side dish with gluten-free tortillas, tortilla chips, flatbread, or large lettuce leaves for scooping.
(This recipe was shared at: Gluten Free Friday)