Grilled Beef Bone and Quinoa Kadu Soup

One thing my nana frequently said as I walked into her kitchen to eat was “All I had was ‘x’, but look… I made something real good.”  She’d say it as she was pulling the lid off the pot of steaming yumminess, or removing the napkin from the plate of freshly fried beauty. I’d sit at her tiny table, roosters crowing outside and mosquitos on my legs, and she’d serve me ‘all that she had’.

Nana with the ever present kitchen towel over her shoulder
Nana with the ever present kitchen towel over her shoulder

If ‘all she had’ was a coconut milk and some flour, we’d end up with some handmade tortillas that would blow your mind.

Nana making her homemade tortillas
Nana making her homemade tortillas

Or, if ‘all she had’ was overripe bananas off our tree, we’d get buñelos aga (banana donuts). Most of the time, though, ‘all she had’ was a potato and a small piece of beef (or even beef bones) out of the freezer, or a couple pieces of chicken from the neighbor and some pumpkin tips out of her yard. And, when that was ‘all she had’, we’d end up with kadu.

Kadu is the Chamorro variation of a broth soup and it’s what I was raised on. It would be 85-90 degrees outside; I’d be sticky from the heat, yet I couldn’t wait to get off the school bus and let nana serve me a bowl. Almost every day I ate kadu over rice with a generous helping of finedene and ice cold rain water to wash it down. And, while I don’t have my sweet nana anymore, every time I make kadu I do it with her heart and feel her right her with me.

For nana, kadu was typically beef or chicken, onions, garlic and water since that was usually ‘all she had’.  While I often make it just as she did, this has become one of my favorite versions:

Grilled Beef Bone Quinoa Kadu

When you have leftover BBQ bones, this is a beautiful way to use them. I mean, even when you cut off all the meat you think you can, look how meaty they still are!

leftover porterhouse steak bones

So, next time you BBQ and have leftover bones, gather these ingredients and turn those meaty bones into a beautiful summer kadu:


  • 6-8 cups of water
  • a couple pounds of beef bones
  • 1/2 pound or so of any cut of steak (fat trimmed)
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 TBSP apple cider vinegar (Braggs is the best)
  • Black pepper and salt to taste


Place all the ingredients in a pot and bring to a rapid boil.

Once it boils, cover, and turn heat down to just above simmer. Allow soup to simmer for 3-4 hours on stove top until the bones are dry and the meat can be pulled apart with a fork.

Remove the bones. Serve over precooked quinoa; and, when you set it before those you love, I hope you’ll say, “All I had was leftover bones, but look – I made something real good.”

(I miss you, nana.)

This photo was taken a handful of days before my sweet nana passed away.
This photo was taken a handful of days before my sweet nana passed away.




Coconut Mung (“Mungo”) Beans and Quinoa That Would Make My Nana Proud

What I’m about to share with you goes deep.

It’s not just any recipe – it’s a recipe that has me 8 years old with smoke in my eyes and my nana’s voice in my ears. It’s a dish I remember coming home to after school; I’d get off the bus and my old lady would yell from across the yard and over the chickens, “Come on for mungo beans.” It would be close to 90 degrees out and I’d be dying for a cold shower to rinse off the sticky island sweat. But man, when mungo beans were on the table, her smoky outdoor kitchen was the only place I wanted to be.

I’d sit down and she’d hand me a military-issued spoon and metal bowl filled with mungo beans simmered with coconut milk from the yard and ham from the neighbors pig down the street. I’d wash it down with ice cold rain water from one of her rusty can cups – and, as I ate, she wouldn’t say a word. No questions about school. No small talk about homework or friends or chores. She’d just sit and watch me eat while she used a paper plate to fan away the heavy heat and the flies… and that’s how she loved me.

Dried Mung ("Mungo") Beans
Dried Mung (“Mungo”) Beans

Mung beans – aka”mungo” beans. Small and simple, yet full of flavor – just like my sweet nana.

I used to have to buy them at oriental food stores (they originated in India, but are big in Chinese and Asian cuisine), but now can find them in the bulk section at my local grocery – which thrills me. They are GORGEOUS little things – my favorite green – with a very mild flavor.

Now, my nana’s original recipe used something I don’t have: fresh out-of-the-coconut coconut milk. Thankfully, however, there are good canned versions that get me pretty close to the original taste.

On the other hand, I use something my nana never did: quinoa. The quinoa gives another layer of flavor and better texture… and look how beautiful it sits in your bowl:

Coconut Mung Beans and Quinoa topped with Bacon
Coconut Mung Beans and Quinoa topped with Bacon

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • EVOO to coat the bottom of the pan (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • 2 cups whole dried mung beans
  • 6 cups broth
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced and smashed
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 2 TBSP soy sauce
  • Black pepper to taste
  • For garnish: pre-cooked bacon
  1. Heat a soup pot and add enough EVOO to coat the bottom.
  2. With pan on medium high (a 7 out of 10), add onions and garlic and sauté for about a minute or two – just until the onions are translucent.
  3. Add dry mung and broth. Bring to a rapid boil for a few minutes, then turn down heat to medium, cover the pot, and allow to simmer gently for approximately 45 minutes. NOTE: You want the beans tender, but intact.
  4. Once beans are tender, add the coconut milk, soy sauce, and black pepper; and, gently incorporate the ingredients into the beans.
  5. DONE!
  6. Ladle beans into bowls and top with crispy bacon bits… and some chili paste if you like some heat!
  7. NOTE ON BACON: No, you can NOT use bacon bits out of a jar – and, as a matter of fact, you shouldn’t even own bacon bits in a jar! To cook bacon I always do it in the oven – and you can do it while the beans are simmering for this dish. Just preheat the oven to 425, and then cook bacon on a cookie sheet for approximately 12-15 minutes, or until perfectly crisp. No mess, no turning, no babysitting: just perfect bacon to make your bacon bits.

Now, you’ll notice I didn’t have any ham in the recipe like my nana did. (You can definitely simmer a hambone in the beans and you will be thrilled with the flavor. I, however, don’t typically do it that way – mainly because I rarely have a ham bone hanging around.) But, while I don’t cook the ham in the soup, I do top the bowl with the bacon bits – an alternative that adds great presentation and crispy bacon texture.

DSC05939 Beautiful, isn’t it?

Rebel on,


Finadene Heaven

Today I want to share a family staple with you: finadene. This ‘condiment’ is a staple of Guam, my island home. We Guamanians serve this with every meal… and it is PERFECT for giving some kick and flavor to whatever you may be eating. Pour some of this over meats, fish, eggs, rice – I even use it as a dressing for my spinach salad and my roasted veggies (once they are roasted).

Finadene is made with four simple ingredients: soy sauce, lemon juice, onions and chili peppers. The best (and most authentic way) to make finadene is with Calamansi Lemons. Sometimes they are referred to as Calamansi limes, Chinese oranges, or just kalamansi. They are native of Southeast Asia, but it seems they’re even being grown in California these days! So, keep an eye out for them. They are tiny little things that pack a real sour punch. (Here’s some photos and a good little article on Calamansi from ‘The Kitchn“.) 

(I get Calamansi when I can, but most of the time I just have regular lemons on hand. So, the finadene recipe I’m sharing with you is for regular lemons.)

One more thing to note: every Chamorro has a slightly different version of finadene… but, this one is our finadene staple. A true taste of my home:

1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup Kikkoman soy sauce (Yes, Kikkoman. Believe it or not, there is a huge difference in soy sauce taste – and Kikkoman is, hands down, the best)
1/4 cup diced white onion
fresh red chili peppers to taste (look for small, bright red Thai chili peppers)
OPTIONAL: You can also add diced green onions and cherry tomatoes into the finadene.  (The best tomatoes will be garden fresh, tiny, and really juicy – otherwise, I’d just skip the tomatoes.) You can also do 1/2 white vinegar and 1/2 lemon juice.

  1. Squeeze your lemon juice into a bowl. Be sure not to keep out the pulp – the lemon pulp is a must!
  2. Place your chilies on a non-pourous flat plate (so no wooden cutting boards!) and smash with the back of a fork as thoroughly as possible. (You can also use a mortar and pestle if you have one.) Pour a little of the lemon juice onto the plate so that all the flavor is captured. Pour the chili and lemon juice back into your bowl.
  3. Add your Kikkoman soy sauce and diced onions (and tomatoes if you’re using them).

That’s it! It’s great served fresh, but it gets even better after a couple days.

Yum. Now I’m gonna go pull out some of our BBQ from last night and have a little snack…

Rebel on,