Kelaguen can be made with other protein sources, but chicken seems to be the favorite at the various fiestas, barbecues, and parties I’ve attended. Traditionally, the chicken is barbecued first, but to save time, I boil the chicken and then brown it in a dry skillet to achieve a similar effect. I picked up this tip from Annie, a great chef by all accounts and a member of our gracious “host” family in Saipan.
- chicken pieces
- green onion
- sea salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- cayenne pepper or Tabasco, to taste (opt)
Boil water, making sure there is enough water to cover the amount of chicken you are cooking. Add chicken pieces to pot. Lower heat to a low simmer. Simmer till chicken is cooked through. Cut through the thickest part of the one of the chicken pieces to make sure meat is cooked.
Remove from water. Save and refrigerate (or freeze) chicken broth for another recipe. Set aside chicken pieces on plates to drain well.
When chicken pieces are relatively dry, heat dry (unoiled) frying pan over medium heat and add lightly brown chicken pieces on all sides.
Cool chicken pieces. Remove skin and bones and discard or set aside to make broth. Chop into 1/2″ chunks. Set aside.
Wash green onion and finely chop. Set aside. Juice lemons. Set aside juice.
In a large bowl, use hand to mix chicken pieces, green onion, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper (opt), massaging the juice and seasonings into the chicken.
Varies depending on amount of chicken you cook
- Generously add green onion.
- Be conservative and gradually add lemon juice; do not overpower the other flavors with the sourness of lemon. Balance is the key.
- Lemon powder is commonly used, but since I have not confirmed its allergen-free status (and since I also prefer ingredients in the original packaging Nature gave them), for now I’m sticking to lemon juice instead.
- Be creative when adding seasonings. Some ideas: garlic powder, thyme pulverized by a mortar and pestle, Old Bay seasoning.
- I use skinless, boneless chicken thighs. It’s more expensive than whole chicken, but it sure is convenient when you don’t have much time. They defrost quickly and cook quickly. Lately, I’ve been buy them in large bags from Costco (in-house Kirkland brand).
- An alternate, more fuel-efficient cooking method: Use fuel-efficient, Chinese boiling method of cooking chicken. Debone and remove skin. Using a dry pan, brown chicken pieces. Chop into 1/2″ chunks. Proceed as usual.
- An alternate, less fuel-efficient cooking method: Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt, black, pepper, black pepper, garlic powder (opt), and cayenne pepper (opt). Bake 375 F till done. Baking time depends on thickness of pieces. E.g. Boneless chicken thighs take about 30 min.
Self (with help from Annie of our “host” family in Saipan)