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)
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.