Desayuno Chapin (Guatemalan Breakfast): Eating Guatemala

by Karen on Friday, September 24, 2010

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There was something I didn’t mention on Monday’s post about frijoles volteados. I often have the privilege of experiencing what is certainly a perfect version of them.  My friends, Ofelia and Mike, often get a vat of delicious creamy black beans bestowed upon them by Doña Zoila, a relative whose exact recipe they still haven’t managed to finagle from her.  What little and vague details about her beans is given to Mike never results in beans that rival the original.

And you have to just trust me, they’re magical.  I can eat this stuff like ice cream.

So naturally, this week I called Mike and Ofelia to help me with the post equipped with all the knowledge they’ve managed to acquire from her.  Here’s what I’ve learned about making the perfect black beans:

– Get good black beans.  Obtain them from a store that has a high turn over of black beans that way you know you don’t have beans that have been sitting on a market shelf turning stale.

– Ok, I’m not one to advocate for use of MSG, bouillon cubes, or other such chemical shortcuts.  But if Malher chicken flavored bouillon is what Doña Zoila uses, then I’ll do it!  (Even if the can does have a cartoon chicken dressed as a member of a barbershop quartet on it…)

So the results of our attempt to recreate these delicious black beans?  Well, as we all agreed, they’re damn good black beans.  But they’re no Doña Zoila black beans.

Frijoles Volteados

– 1 lb dried black beans, picked through and rinsed
– 5-6 spring onions, green and white parts, chopped
– 5 cloves of garlic
– 3 tbsps of chicken bouillon
– Vegetable oil

Fill a large pot with about 10 cups of water.  Add the black beans, 5 cloves of garlic, and 3 diced spring onions and bring to simmer.  On low heat, place a lid on the pot and simmer the beans for about 1 hour.  The beans should be just cooked through.  When the beans are cooked through, add the chicken bouillon.

In a pan, heat a couple tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat and saute the rest of your spring onions until they are a deep golden brown.  With a slotted spoon transfer the beans into a blender, adding a couple ladles of the liquid into the blender jar so that it is about 1/3 water 2/3 beans.  Add the sauteed spring onions to the blender and liquefy.  You will have to do this in batches.  In a container, mix together the blended black beans and keep in the refrigerator until you are ready to make frijoles volteados.

In a pan, heat a couple tablespoons of oil on high heat.  Spoon in some of your pureed black beans and heat through until you start to see the sides of the beans sizzle.  Start to stir the pan and as you move the beans around, water will start evaporating and the beans will begin reducing into more of a paste.  Keep moving the beans around either by tossing the beans with the pan or using a wooden spatula.  The end result should be a log of black beans that is paste-like.


– 6 plum tomatoes
– 1 small onion, finely chopped
– 1 clove of garlic, minced
– 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
– a dash (or squeeze) of lemon juice
– kosher salt to taste

In a cast iron skillet (or any pan), char your tomatoes on high heat until they start to turn dark and blister to where the skins start to separate.  Transfer the tomatoes into a bowl and cover with a kitchen towel until they’ve cooled enough to handle.  Peel the skin off the tomatoes.

With very clean hands crush the tomatoes with your fingers (or if you don’t feel like getting down and dirty, use a wooden spoon to mash the tomatoes).  Add the jalapeno, lemon juice, onions, garlic, and kosher salt.

The Assembly of Desayuno Chapin

– Spoonful of frijoles volteados
2 eggs, any style you like, topped with chirmol
slices of avocado, papaya, or any other fruit
– corn tortillas or bread rolls
– slice of cheese, such as queso fresco
– And of course a cup of hot coffee

Ah, delicious memories…


Jon Stroll September 24, 2010 at 8:08 pm

Your beans look very familiar

Lentil Breakdown December 18, 2010 at 1:50 am

I went to Guatemala about five years ago, but I don’t recall having breakfasts like this. Your photos are marvelous, and I especially love the one of the arch in Antigua. So glad to have discovered your blog!

Jesse Beach September 17, 2011 at 6:35 am

Thank you so much for writing that up. Guatemalan breakfasts rank among my favorite in the world, up their with croissants in France and hot soy milk with sugar in China.

Karen September 23, 2011 at 10:24 am

O I’m so glad you mentioned sao bing you tiao– its my childhood breakfast and i love it! Glad to hear you’ve also had desayuno chapin– not a lot of people have heard of it

Doreen August 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Fantastic pictures! Often times Desayunos Chapines include a small piece of well cooked but very tasty steak. The “Platos Chapines” that are served for dinner are equally marvelous! And I agree, they truly are one of the best breakfast plates in the world!

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