There are thousands of ways to cook grilled chicken. Some recipes require the chicken to be marinated for hours, or even days, before it goes on the grill. In other recipes — mostly, the ones that use thin slices of fillet — it is sufficient to simply baste the unseasoned chicken while it cooks on the grill.
In Guam, grilled chicken is marinated in a spicy sauce known in Chamorro (native Guam language) as fina’denne’. The basic ingredients represent salty, sour and spicy. According to an article in Guampedia, “Prior to the introduction of soy sauce by Japanese, Chamorus made fina’denne’ by mixing tuba vinegar (fermented coconut sap), salt, lemon, water, and fresh pepper.” The balance between salty, sour and spicy varies as the sauce can be modified to suit one’s palate.
In this Guam-style grilled chicken recipe, fina’denne’ is made with soy sauce, kalamansi juice, shallots, garlic, ginger and chilies. The chicken was grilled in the oven.
Grilled Chicken, Guam-style
- 3 to 4 chicken legs (drumsticks)
- 3 to 4 chicken thighs
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup kalamansi juice (lemon or lime juice may be substituted)
- 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/2 tablespoon chopped ginger
- 2 to 3 bird's eye chilies roughly chopped
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Place in a shallow bowl.
- Make the fina’denne’ by stirring together the rest of the ingredients.
- Pour half of the fina’denne’ over the chicken. Reserve the remaining half in a jar with a screw-type cap.
- Mix the fina’denne’ and chicken. Cover the bowl. Refrigerate for at least six hours (overnight works better).
- Preheat the oven to 425F (or start lighting up the charcoal if you're using a charcoal grill).
- Place the chicken on a rack positioned over a tray (to catch the drippings). Oven-grill for 20 to 30 minutes (depending on the size of the chicken legs and thighs) or until the skins are blistered and crackly, and the meat is cooked through. To test the meat for doneness, pierce the thighs at the center near the bone. If the juices that ooze out is clear (a.k.a. not bloody), the chicken is done.
- Serve the Guam-style grilled chicken with the reserved fina’denne’ on the side for dipping.
Guam-style grilled chicken is traditionally served with rice cooked in annatto water made by soaking annatto seeds in hot water. Depending on the amount of annatto seeds used, the color of the rice range from yellow-orange to bright red.