Chicken Kelaguen

🍗🔥 Spice up your taste buds with Chicken Kelaguen! 🌶️🌿 This dish from Guam is a flavour-packed explosion that will leave you craving more! 😋🌴 Chicken Kelaguen is a traditional Chamorro dish, a type of ceviche made with chicken that is marinated in lemon juice, onions, peppers, and hot sauce. The chicken is then shredded and served cold, often with rice or bread.

Discover the unique and vibrant flavours of kelaguen, a classic Chamorro dish popular in Guam. Derived from the Filipino kilawin and influenced by Latin American techniques, kelaguen showcases the art of “cooking” proteins with citrus. Join me as we delve into the origins, ingredients, and preparation of this beloved culinary staple.

Kelaguen finds its roots in the cooking traditions of Pacific islands, where raw fish or shrimp is “cooked” by the acidity of lemon juice. Originally derived from Filipino kilawin, it was introduced to the Marianas when the region was part of the Spanish East Indies. Over time, kelaguen has evolved, incorporating Latin American influences, and even using tortillas in some variations.

While chicken kelaguen, known as “kelaguen månnok” in Chamorro, is a popular variation, this versatile dish can be made with various proteins, such as fish, beef, venison, and even Spam. Each protein brings its unique flavours and textures to the table, offering a range of options to suit diverse palates.

In traditional Guamanian preparation, chicken for kelaguen is grilled until 80 percent cooked, then finished with citrus juice or lemon powder. This method, like Latin American ceviche, ensures food safety while infusing the meat with tangy citrus notes and a hint of spiciness from fiery red chiles. Coconut milk adds a creamy and comforting element, balancing the flavours perfectly. But in the interest of food safety, I highly advise to grill the chicken until it is fully cooked through, or internal heat is 82°C.

Kelaguen is a dish that encourages culinary creativity. Some variations incorporate minced onions or bell peppers for added depth and complexity. Feel free to experiment with different ingredients and flavours to make it your own. Enjoy kelaguen on its own, or pair it with warm white rice or titiyas, the Chamorro lightly sweetened flour-and-coconut-milk tortillas, for a complete and satisfying meal.

While kelaguen can be served immediately after preparation, its flavours develop and intensify over time like adobo or rendang. Allowing it to marinate in the fridge for a few hours or even a day or two enhances the taste, providing a richer and more pronounced experience.

Kelaguen offers a fascinating blend of cultural influences and a burst of vibrant flavours that define Chamorro cuisine. Whether you opt for chicken, fish, or another protein, the harmonious balance of tangy citrus, spiciness, and creamy coconut milk is sure to tantalize your taste buds. Embrace the spirit of creativity, explore the variations, and savour the true essence of kelaguen, a beloved culinary treasure from Guam.

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Chicken Kelaguen

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 2 reviews
  • Author: Raymund
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 45 mins
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Main Course
  • Cuisine: Chamorro


Chicken Kelaguen is a traditional Chamorro dish, a type of ceviche made with chicken that is marinated in lemon juice, onions, peppers, and hot sauce. The chicken is then shredded and served cold, often with rice or bread.


Units Scale


  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 6 red chillies, finely chopped


  • 1 whole chicken, cut up
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 4 pcs spring onions, finely chopped
  • 3 birds eye chillies, chopped
  • 6 pcs pita bread


  1. In a bowl, combine all Marinade ingredients together.  Let the mixture sit in the refrigerator for a day to allow the flavours to blend.
  2. Place the chicken a heavy duty zip lock bag, pour the marinade then cover, let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.
  3. Remove chicken from the refrigerator an hour before you cook them.
  4. Grill or broil the chicken, basting it with the sauce until cooked.  This will take around 25-30 minutes.
  5. Once cooked, let the chicken cool, then debone and shred it.
  6. Combine coconut milk with lemon juice in a small bowl, set it aside.
  7. In a mixing bowl, combine the shredded chicken, spring onion and red chillies.
  8. Slowly pour the coconut milk and lemon juice mixture into the chicken, stirring well to incorporate all the flavours.
  9. Serve the chicken kelaguen warm with pita bread on the side.


6 Responses

  1. Looks light yet very flavourful with chilli and coconut!

  2. One thing I appreciate so much about your posts is the history of the recipes and how they came to be — from one culture to another. My nephew-in-law is Guaniam/Guamerican and we are getting together with them next week at a family reunion. It would be really fun if we could make this together. Even if not, I know he loves cooking the cuisine of Guam and I can’t wait to share this recipe with him.

  3. The kelaguen is such an interesting dish and one I think we would enjoy.

  4. I’ve never had kelaguen, but this is definitely something I should give a try. This chicken would be so great with flatbreads.

  5. suituapui says:

    With coconut? Probably something like what we call “masak lemak” here, with the richness of santan (coconut milk).

  6. Michelle says:

    Thanks for explaining — I had a friend who was Chamorro and talked about this dish – now I can recreate it at home!

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