Beef Tinaktak

I’ve been to the small Pacific island of Guam about a dozen times in my life, but never for long – usually I was disembarking from a US Navy ship and headed to the airport, on my way back home. There were a few moments when I was lucky enough to spend a day or two on the island before catching a flight, relaxing by the beach and reveling in the novelty of not having to wear a uniform 24/7. Regrettably, though, I never got a chance to enjoy a homestyle meal while in Guam. To be fair, the last time I was there was well over 10 years ago, in the dark period before smartphone apps like Yelp–at the time, my food explorations usually just consisted of eating wherever was within walking distance.

I think the fact that I missed out on some of Guam’s homestyle cuisine is what draws me towards one of Guam’s signature comfort foods, and today’s recipe, Beef Tinaktak. In essence, this dish is like a taste of what could have been, had I the opportunity to enjoy a home-cooked meal there. Beef Tinaktak’s pairing of ground beef, tomatoes, green beans, and coconut milk sounds a little strange on paper, but the resulting flavor is anything but; it’s immediately comforting, while wholly unique.

Beef Tinaktak (Gluten-free, Perfect Health Diet, Paleo, Primal, Whole30)

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 25 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion (about 1/2 onion)
1 lb ground beef
1 tbsp tamari or coconut aminos
1/4 tsp salt, more to taste
1/4 tsp pepper, more to taste
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp granulated garlic
1 cup coconut milk (about 1/2 can)
1 (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes, fire-roasted preferred
1 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 2″ lengths

1. In a large skillet, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the ground beef and sauté until browned and slightly crispy, breaking up chunks with a wooden spoon, about 8 minutes. Add the tamari, salt, pepper, ginger, and garlic; stir to combine and allow the tamari to caramelize, about 1 minute.

2. Add the coconut milk, tomatoes, and green beans, and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, cover and reduce heat to low; simmer until the beans are soft and bright green, about 5 minutes. Uncover, add more salt and pepper to taste, then serve with white rice or cauliflower rice.

** For added heat, serve with chopped jalapeno pepper or add a few squirts of hot sauce.

31 thoughts on “Beef Tinaktak

  1. The more I looked at this one, the most interesting [and unique] it sounded. I don’t know where to get tamari or coconut aminos, but I’m printing this out to eventually give it a shot!

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    1. Tamara is a dark soy sauce so it will most likely be next to the regular soy sauce in your grocery store. I would look for coconut aminos in the organic or gluten free area, my store had t next to the organic unfiltered cider vinegar.

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      1. I bought my tamari from my big grocery (Safeway or Vons in California) and I ordered amino from Amazon. But check stores like whole foods, sprouts or stored that offer healthy and organic items..But in a pinch use light or regular soy sauce. Chamorros/Guamanians traditionally uses everyday soy sauce. But definitely experiment. Good Luck !!! :)

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    2. My daughter-in-law told me to go to the health food store for coconut Amino’s. It’s an alternative for soy sauce. She also warned me that it is a bit pricey for a small bottle. I believe you can find tamari in the Asian section or at an Asian market.

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  2. Hafa Adai <— hello in Chamorro (native language of Guam)
    It is a very comforting fast dish. I've had tinaktac/tinaktak before (I was told the name derived from the chopping sound of cutting or mincing beef, (tak,tak) These days most ppl use ground beef). As for amino acid or tamari, one can use soy sauce (but it won't be gluten free) I've seen some cooks use drained canned green beans, but FRESH is always best. Use the blue lake variety (standard American kind). Try not to use snake (Asian) long beans. A few tips: Shake canned coconut milk or Ive used shaken canned coconut cream for an extra boost of yummy flavors. Don't over simmer coconut milk or cream or it might seperare. Low and slow is best. I personally add halved fresh cherry tomatoes or halved grape tomatoes as my last item (instead of canned tomatoes) and then re-taste for salt and/or black pepper. In a pinch, I'll add a pinch of cayenne pepper or even a packet of dried red pepper flakes from a pizza parlor. Hope this is enjoyed by all :) Hope to see more recipes from the Pacific Islands :)

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  3. I lived on Guam for 3 years when I was small (Anderson AFB). Unfortunately, my dad is not an adventurous eater so I never got to experience this. But boy do I ever miss the Mongolian stir fry from the NCO club! Can’t wait to give this try!

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  6. I liked this, though I’ll probably cut back on the green beans a tad when I make it again. My husband, who expects anything with coconut milk to be spicy wasn’t so thrilled. That means more for me next time, right?

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  7. I made this tonight, but added some extra veggies I had hanging around in the fridge, diced celery, shredded carrot and cabbage, because I can’t leave anything alone, I hate wasting produce, and more veggies is always better, right? It was freaking delicious! Thank you so much for sharing!

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  8. This dish is amazing. I made it last week as written with green beans and basmati rice. This week I had no green beans on hand and substituted peas with jasmine rice. I think I might actually prefer the pea version. Thank you so much for sharing!

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  9. Outstanding recipe! One of my new top go-tos. It’s cheap and easy to make, quick, and my husband even requested I make it a regular weekly staple.

    I actually made a mistake though – I bought almond milk instead of coconut and didn’t notice until after. Still turned out delicious!

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