If you’re Filipino and want to master only one Filipino dish, make it adobo. A braise flavoured with soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and salt, adobo is very easy to make and it keeps well in the fridge. In fact, its flavour gets better the longer you keep it! Chicken, pork, goat, lamb, vegetables, or seafood can all be cooked adobo-style. An authentic Filipino dish, chicken adobo is by and large my favourite amongst all of these variants of adobo. Chicken adobo might as well be known as our “national dish” as it is one of the most recognized Filipino foods.
There are many variations of chicken adobo as there are households (seriously), but they share many similar components and this recipe is the simplest that you can get. This is one of the first two dishes in Filipino cuisine that I learned to master, the other being lumpiang shanghai!
HISTORY TIDBIT: Filipino adobo is not to be confused with adobo from Mexico, Peru, or other Spanish-speaking countries. According to Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan’s Memories of Philippine Kitchens:
In Spain, the word “adobo” refers to a condiment of oil, garlic, and marjoram. In Mexico, specifically in Oaxaca, adobo is a marinade of guajillo chiles, garlic, cider vinegar, thyme, bay leaves, avocado leaves, black peppercorn, and canela (Oaxacan soft cinnamon) used for grilled meat. Nonetheless, […] adobo is truly our own. When the Spaniards came to the Philippines […] they ascribed the Spanish name to this native dish because of its mild resemblance to their adobo.
This is my husband’s favourite Filipino dish! We love it with budget-friendly chicken thighs. He asks me to make this literally every week… but I have to fend him off because I love trying new recipes!
This recipe is very straightforward – no cooking experience necessary! It would take a lot to mess this up. All you need to do is watch the cooking video (if you can speak Tagalog – if not, don’t even bother with the TERRIBLE English subtitles), follow the step-by-step procedure, and prepare yourself for some amazing results. I altered the recipe a bit by doubling the marinade/sauce as my husband likes having a lot of sauce with his rice LOL.
Adapted from Vanjo Merano of Panlasang Pinoy
Makes 4 servings
COOK TIME: 45 minutes, not including time for marinating
- 2 lbs. chicken, cut into serving pieces
- 3 pieces dried bay leaves
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- 8 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup cooking oil
- 1 tbsp white sugar
- Handful of whole peppercorn
- Salt to taste
- Combine the soy sauce, garlic, and chicken in a large Ziploc bag then marinate the chicken for at least 1 to 3 hours. Marinate overnight for best results!
- Place cooking oil in a pan and apply medium heat.
- When the oil is hot enough, put in the marinated chicken. Using kitchen tongs to handle the chicken, cook all the sides for about 5 minutes.
- Pour in the remaining marinade and water (minimum 1 1/2 cup if you like your sauce to have a stronger flavour, add more water to taste). Bring to a boil.
- Add the dried bay leaves and whole peppercorn. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the chicken is tender.
- Add vinegar. Stir and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add sugar. Season with salt to taste. Stir and turn the heat off.
- Serve hot with steamed rice.
Because I cook for only the two of us, we always have leftovers that we have to finish before cooking for another day. We use the remaining sauce and rice for breakfast the next day/s for another great Filipino dish called ADOBO GARLIC FRIED RICE!!!
It’s so easy too. I pretty much just wing it, but here is an actual recipe if you absolutely need to follow one. I sauté a LOT of chopped garlic (not minced) in some veg oil and set some aside as a topping. I then fry day-old rice (trust me on the day-old part… you want the rice to be a bit dry) with some adobo sauce and adobo fat. You can add some shredded meat if you’d like. I toss the rice around to prevent it from sticking from the pan. DONE! It’s THAT easy.
Serve the fried garlic and a fried egg on top of the rice and you’ve got yourself a comforting Filipino breakfast.