Beef Kelaguen (Kelaguen Kåtne) Recipe



Vegetarians and vegans avert your eyes! This dish is a carnivore’s delight, and may cause squeamishness in those with different lifestyles.

Kelaguen (ke-la-gwen, also spelled as kelaquin and keliguen though I believe that the first spelling is correct) is a traditional dish of the Chamorro Peoples of the Marianna Islands. Kelaguen is a method of cooking whereby the marinade cooks the meat, much like a Ceviche. (Yup, it’s raw beef!) I highly recommend knowing your butcher if you plan on making this dish, as you’ll want the freshest beef possible.

I was introduced to Kelaguen by my ex wife and our Guamanian next door neighbor in the early nineties. I’ve made it as often as possible ever since. The combination of beef (kåtne), citrus and peppers is wonderful to say the least. This is an Americanized version that was “toned down” for American palettes when our neighbor made it for us the first time. The more authentic recipes read like a who’s-who of spicy, and are generally made of meat that is nearly minced, but this is the version I was introduced to originally, and I’ve stayed faithful to it.

(Besides, cutting the meat in larger pieces makes it perfect for chopsticks!)

Beef Kelaguen (Kelaguen Kåtne) Recipe
  • 1.5 pounds very lean beef trimmed of all fat and cut into bite sized pieces or thin strips
  • 2 cups lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup pickled wax peppers (Use fresh or roasted red peppers for a more authentic kelaquin)
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced in about 1/4-inch wide strips
  • 2 Tablespoons red pepper flakes
  • 10 grinds fresh black pepper.
  1. Add all ingredients together in bowl. Mix well, cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to rest at room temperature for approximately 3 hours, stirring once to ensure that everything is coated evenly. (Alternately, refrigerate overnight.)
  2. Serve alone or with rice.
  3. The sauce shown for dipping is just soy heated with some minced garlic and ginger. I’ll try to post the recipe for that in the next few days.

What I would have done differently had I thought of it at the time:

The next round of kelaguen I make will probably be a bit more traditional, just so I can see what I’ve been missing with this version. Shrimp kelaguen looks like a good place to start, as shrimp, lemon and fresh coconut just sound like a lovely combination.

If you’d like to get hold of a few more recipes, I’d suggest, since I have to think that the official website of the Chamorro community would feature the most authentic recipes available.

Please do remember we’re talking about meats denatured without the addition of heat. If you have any doubt whatsoever about the freshness of your meat you can still use this method, but cut the beef in strips and toss it on a grill for a few minutes before digging in. (Kebabs, anyone?)

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  1. says

    This type of recipe is so unusual — beef seviche! I’d never have considered it (in the same way I avoid steak tartare), but this looks absolutely delicious, so I’ll have to give it a try. Thanks for the link to information about the Chamorro community; I look forward to learning more.

  2. Jerry says


    I avoid steak tartare myself. To me it always just looked like hamburger someone tried to “fancy up”, and it never looked all that appetizing.

    Keleguen, on the other hand, won my heart the very first time I tried it. (Of course, so did the Lumpia that was served with it, but I haven’t gotten around to making that this year.)

  3. says

    Considering I normally eat my steak next to raw, this sounds more than delish! I love the marinade and the veggies that go with.. hmm.. if I could only talk the husband into eating his steak a lil less than the shoe leather that her prefers. =(

    Well.. maybe one day he’ll go on a fishing trip and I’ll have a nice steak in the house.. muahahaaa! (that was my evil laugh)


  4. Jerry says


    We usually have ours close to moo-ing as well. Believe it or not, this method “cooks” the steak a lot more thoroughly than my usual.

    (I’m going to ashamedly admit that most beef photos here are taken the next day at lunch, so that reheating the dish re-cooks to medium-rare, rather than my preferred “sitting in a pool of juices” variety)

  5. Ray Zaragoza says

    Steak Kelaguen is the best! always the first dish to run out at partys. after I finish my first round of food,(make sure others get a taste first) I make my way back to get a cup of steak kelaguen to eat by itself.

    heres a brief description of how we make Beef Kelaguen at home.
    -Sirloin steak, fats cut off, and cut in strips.
    -squeeze as much blood out as possible
    -soak in fresh squeezed lemon juice chopped white onions,chopped hottest peppers you can find and let sit for about an hour refrigerated
    -add in chopped green onions and sprinkle lemon powder to taste(hard to find stateside)
    when the juices are brown, EnJOY!
    best eaten by itself or with your favorite beer.
    some places on Guam serve this dish as a chaser (pupus) instead of peanuts.
    my non Guamanian friends here in Seattle say “ewwww is that cooked?” and I say yeah, cooked by the lemon juice. its “cured” by the lemon juice

  6. says

    What a surprise to see a Guamanian dish so far from home! I”m a chicken kelaguen girl myself, but then again I’ve never seen such an elegant looking kelguen katne before… Bravo!

  7. Michelle says

    This is one of my favorite dishes. I try to make it at least once a month. My kids love it to. I made a slightly different version, but this one you gave is much better.

  8. Bill says

    the hottest local peppers grown here on Guam are known as “Boonie Pepers” Donni Sali in the local togue. Hot yes but also with thier own favor. My beef kelaguin includes garlic, soy sauce and a dash of vineger besides the above. I also pound the beef out paper thin. For a “More Asian” flair use a few drops of Sesame Oil. HAPPY EATING.

  9. Connie says

    Hafa Adai. It would be nice to meet other Chamoros in ATL especially since the holidays are almost here. All my family is in Guam and I surely miss them and the culture.
    Please get in touch with me if you are interested in meeting.

    Connie Cruz

  10. Matt says

    I was stationed in Germany for 2 years in the early 80’s. We had a few Guamanians, Samoans, and Fillipino(sp) serving there. Whenever word that one of the Guamanian wives, was doing kelaguen, they all came running. It was just that simple. If any of you had the pleasure (hmm-hmmm) of serving with me in the 596th Maintenance Company in Darmstadt, Bill, Fred, Francis, best wishes.

    • Jerry says

      If it’s been in the fridge and completely covered in liquid, it should be OK today, but I’d toss it by tomorrow morning


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