Here’s one of my all-time favorite recipes. CAUTION: Not for the faint of heart. This recipe has a lot of raw beef involved. Whenever I’m at a fiesta, I hunt down to see if there’s a bowl of beef kelaguen. Normally, by the time I find it, the meat has fully cooked through and becomes very tough. So my fix? Make my own. I do this about once a year at home too. Just to get the raw beef, tartar, carpaccio fix. One of the reasons I like this recipe is because it’s pretty cheap to make unlike it’s tartar and carpaccio cousins.
Kelaguen is a Chamorro dish from the Northern Mariana Islands eaten as a side dish or as a main course. Like in ceviche, a pickling marinade of lemon juice, fresh coconut, green onions, salt and spicy hot peppers or donne is used to marinate cooked chicken, raw shrimp, fish or beef meat/liver. With the exception of the cooked chicken, the acids in the marinade “cook” the raw shrimp, fish or beef instead of heat. It is served cold or at room temperature and eaten as is, over rice, or wrapped in a warm corn or flour tortilla (or the Chamorro version, titiyas).
• 1 pound beef round, trimmed, thinly sliced against the grain
• 1/4 cup green onion, chopped
• Juice of 3 limes or more to taste
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 1 tablespoon soy sauce
• 1 teaspoon black pepper
• Hot sauce to taste
The important step is to trim your beef. You can really use any cut of beef as long as you remove as much of the fat and connective tissue as possible. I like round because there isn’t a lot of connective tissue compared to other people that use flank. After trimming, slice it as thin as you can but not carpaccio thin.
The 2nd thing to note about this recipe is, mix everything in except the meat. Ok, maybe not everything. After slicing the meat, mix it in with the salt and set aside while you combine the other ingredients. Do not start with lime juice, then add meat, then add salt, etc… The reason for this is because you don’t want various “cooking” time with your meat. You want a uniform mix.
Alright, after you’ve mixed everything in, put it in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. Or go sooner if your stomach can take it. After 3 hours, crack open a beer, grab some tortillas and chow down.