Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Adobo (Chicken Stewed in Vinegar, Garlic and Soy Sauce)

Pinoy Adobo
Adobo, arguably the best-known Filipino dish, is a by-product of both Chinese and Spanish influence. In Spanish cuisine, adobo refers to a pickling sauce made from olive oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, paprika, thyme, bay leaf and salt.  The Filipinos embraced their favorite flavors (vinegar, garlic and bay leaf), included peppercorns and nodding to the Chinese influence, added soy sauce.  They adapted it to be a stewing sauce for chicken and pork, but maintained its Spanish moniker - an affirmation of the unique Filipino palate.

Adobo traditionally consists of chicken and / or pork chunks simmered in soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaf, garlic and whole peppercorns until the meats are tender.  As a cooking method, adobo can be used for fowl, meat, shellfish or vegetables.

Famous for its piquant flavor, adobo is a famous ulam or viand (dish eaten with rice) also because of its longetivity and resilience to spoilage.  The secret ingredient is the vinegar.  When the vinegar has reached its boiling point, lower the heat and allow it to simmer.  Remember not to stir while simmering because it will bring the raw vinegar taste.

I have had adobo since I was a child.  I remember my dad's spicy chicken adobo.  He simmers the adobo until it is dry (until the sauce is past its thick consistency.)  He is a native from Northern Samar in Central Philippines and calls the process pinaitos.  On the other hand, my mom who is a native from Rizal Province in Northern Philippines adds a dash of brown sugar to her adobo.  Not only in our house in Bulacan and Zamboanga have I had adobo.  I have had it in birthday parties, fiesta, Christmas and New Year.  I say almost all households in the Philippines cook adobo.

Now that I am married to an American, I have started cooking adobo with more vegetables like potatoes, carrots, onion, and sweet peppers.  Yes, that doesn't sound like the adobo that my parents used to make, but that's just how my husband who is a health buff, likes it.

For my first recipe on the web, I will feature the ever famous, Filipino Chicken Adobo recipe:

  • 3 chicken legs (drumstick) and 3 chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup white cane vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 6 cloves garlic, slightly mashed
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 bay  leaves
  • 2- 3 twists of freshly cracked black pepper
  1. Combine all ingredients in a pot.  Marinate for 30 minutes. 
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes or until the meat is tender.  Add water if necessary.  
  3. When chicken is tender, remove from the pot and set aside. Keep simmering sauce until reduced to your desired consistency.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a skillet with oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, saute half of the garlic until golden brown.  Add the chicken and fry to brown.
  5. Add the chicken back to the pot.  Toss gently and remove from heat.
  6. Serve over steamed white rice.
  • Some like their adobo sauce reduced, so don't add more water while it is simmering.
  • Some like their adobo spicy so add some crushed ginger and chili peppers to the mix.
  • Some like their adobo saucy and sweet, so feel free to put a dash of sugar before simmering it.  
  • Pop one star anise into the pot to give it an anhanced aroma and flavor.
  • Add a peeled hardboiled egg towards the end of cooking.
  • Add spring onions or shallots to the mix.
  • Add pineapple chunks to your adobo to give it a fresh fruity kick.
  • Enrich it with vegetables like potatoes, carrots and sweet peppers...  My husband loves it!

    My enriched adobo :)

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