Island: Guam
Yield: 4 to 6 servings | Active Time: 1 hour | Total Time: At least 4 hours

This adaptation of a classic CHamoru marinade has become my go-to for grilling chicken and pork. It comes together quickly and packs a punch; soy sauce and lemon deeply penetrate the meat, which is then infused with abundant garlic and ginger. Start your marinade the morning of your cookout instead of the night before, as this soy-heavy marinade is potent. Once you begin cooking, baste the chicken with the remaining marinade several times to glaze and char, being sure to let the marinade cook before taking the meat off the grill.


  • 10 to 12 large garlic cloves, minced

  • 1/4 cup [50 g] finely grated peeled fresh ginger

  • 1 cup [240 ml] soy sauce

    TST-Islas Book Cover Islas: A Celebration of Tropical Cooking Von Diaz
  • 1/2 cup [120 ml] fresh lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup [60 ml] white wine vinegar

  • 1/3 cup [65 g] light brown sugar

  • 1 cup [104 g] finely chopped green onions, white and green parts

To make the marinade: In a medium bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, lemon juice, vinegar, brown sugar, and onions and stir well to incorporate.


  • 3 to 4 lb [1.4 to 1.8 kg] bone-in skin-on chicken pieces, dark or white meat

  • Steamed white rice, for serving

  • Fina’denne’ (recipe below), for serving

To make the chicken: Put the chicken pieces in a large resealable bag or airtight container, then pour the marinade over and seal the container. Marinate for at least 3 hours or up to 12.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and place the pieces on a rimmed baking sheet. Reserve the remaining marinade.

Bring a grill to medium heat, then cook the chicken for 25 to 40 minutes, turning often to avoid burning, and brushing with the reserved marinade a few times. Be sure to cook the last application of marinade before taking the chicken off the grill.

Tent the chicken with aluminum foil and let it rest for 5 to 7 minutes before eating. Serve with steamed rice and fina’denne’ on the side.

TIP: If you don’t have access to a grill, this recipe is easy to prepare in the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F [180°C], then line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Arrange the chicken in an even layer, bone-side down. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. To finish, brush with reserved marinade, turn the heat to a high broil, and place the baking sheet directly under the broiler. Watching carefully, and brushing with marinade a few more times, broil for 5 to 10 minutes until the chicken reaches your desired char.

Island: Guam
Yield: 1 ½ cups [360 ml]
Total Time: 5 minutes


A staple of CHamoru cuisine, this soy-based dipping sauce is flavored with lemon, green onions, and fiery chiles. You can replace the vinegar with additional lemon juice if desired. This recipe was inspired by Juanita Blaz, who is profiled in Islas.

  • 3/4 cup [180 ml] soy sauce, plus more as needed

  • 1/2 cup [24 g] thinly sliced green onions or shallots

  • 3 to 6 red bird’s eye chiles

  • 1/2 cup [80 g] halved cherry tomatoes

  • 1/4 cup [60 ml] coconut vinegar or apple cider vinegar

  • 1/4 cup [60 ml] fresh lemon juice

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Taste and adjust soy sauce and chiles as desired.

Islas: A Celebration of Tropical Cooking 125 Recipes from the Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific Ocean Islands by Von Diaz, © 2024. Photographs © Lauren Vied Allen. Published by Chronicle Books. 

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