Biba CHamoru Kitchen’s Buñuelos Åga: A Guamanian Holiday Table Essential

These banana doughnuts were a staple at Ed Sablan’s family fiestas growing up on Guam.

By Katherine Chew Hamilton November 24, 2020 Published in the Winter 2020/2021 issue of Portland Monthly

Who among us hasn’t thought about bringing a Tupperware to the family holiday party? Especially when you know aunt or uncle *insert name here* is making *insert delicious dish here.*

Ed Sablan is the chef-owner of Biba CHamoru Kitchen, Portland’s first and only brick-and-mortar Guamanian restaurant, which shares space with Oakshire Beer Hall on NE 42nd. Prior to Biba’s opening in the summer of 2019, Sablan also ran Guamanian food cart PDX671, which re-created the flavors of his childhood using Pacific Northwest ingredients. Sablan, who grew up on Guam, fondly remembers the weeks leading up to Christmas, filled with fiestas overflowing with extended family, friends, and food.

“They were all-day-long affairs, just eating and cooking food, everybody showing up and just eating,” Sablan says. “Even into the night ... someone’s still cooking.”

Along with barbecue and tons of Christmas cookies, his aunts would make multiple kinds of fritters, including buñuelos åga, or banana doughnuts, in their outdoor kitchens specially designed for frying. And on the off chance that Sablan missed a fiesta, his mom made sure he didn’t miss out on the buñuelos åga.

“My mom would always come home, she’d take out of her purse a few napkins, and unwrap these treats that she would save for me,” Sablan recalls.

Though giant family gatherings are off the table during the pandemic, Sablan expects the tradition of buñuelos åga to continue on Guam—only this time via home delivery from one family to the next. In Portland, they’ll be available at his restaurant (currently open for delivery, takeout, and outdoor dining) during the fall and winter. Make these for your neighbors, your extended family, or hoard them all for yourself.

Image: Mike Novak

Buñuelos Åga

Serves 1–2

  • 1 banana, mashed
  • ¼ cup flour (gluten-free flour can be substituted)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • Oil for frying (about 2 inches deep in a small pot)

Combine mashed banana, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt until fully incorporated. Carefully drop 1 tbsp of batter into preheated 350-degree oil. Fry 2–3 minutes until golden brown. Serve with maple syrup or honey as on Guam, or experiment with toppings of your choice: try flavored agave, puréed Pacific Northwest berries, powdered sugar, chocolate sauce, ice cream, or any or all of the above.

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