Cooking Chamorro Red Rice

While we didn’t get to enjoy much Chamorro food during our trip to Guam, I did get to taste and enjoy Chamorro red rice. A festive rice preparation that’s a staple for Chamorro celebrations, their red rice is colored so because of annatto or atchuete seeds.

Chamorro Red Rice

Insanely cute bowl, right?

I trawled the net for recipes. While there are a lot, all varying in difficulty and ingredients, the one that seemed simple yet yummy was from The Scent of Green Bananas, a Guam-based blog. Makes sense to follow instructions from a long-time resident right?

Her recipe, which includes onions and chopped bacon (BACON!) differed from the basic ones that only included annatto-tinted water. The rice I tried had a distinct flavor, so I knew it can’t just be annatto. TSOGB’s version has a slight smokiness that actually lets the rice stand on its own. But of course, if we’re talking celebrations, we should have more dishes right?

Chamorro Red Rice
v. 27 June 2012
Scaled down from a recipe on The Scent of Green Bananas

  • 2 cups shortgrained rice, washed
  • 1 small onion or half a large one, chopped finely
  • 4-6 slices streaky smoked bacon, chopped
  • annatto seeds / achuete powder, dissolved in water
  1. Saute onions in a little oil. Add bacon until cooked through. No, you’re not making bacon bits, just enough to cook, not to crisp. Drain excess oil.
  2. Place your washed rice in a rice cooker. Add the oil and bacon mix.

  3. If using powdered annatto: Add enough water to your rice to cook it. Follow your usual proportion. Then, add enough annatto powder to color your water, depending on how bright you like it.
  4. If using annatto seeds, soak your seeds in water. Then, use the water to cook your rice. Again, follow your usual rice cooking proportion.
  5. Wait for the rice cooker to do its magic. Poof!
  6. If you don’t have a rice cooker, you can cook it the way you usually cook rice on a stovetop. Just add the onions, bacon and the annatto water.
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