First, I want to say thank-you to everyone’s concern about my family in the Philippines in the aftermath of typhoon Haiyan. My family is fine. Most of mother’s side of the family lives in and around the capital, Manila, about 500 miles north of the devastation you have seen in Tacloban. I grew up in that region of the world and experienced many typhoons, but nothing like Haiyan. The closest comparison to the American experience is probably Hurricane Katrina. Please continue to pray for the country and its people. They have a long and hard journey ahead to recovery.
In honor of my mother’s homeland, I thought I’d share the [unofficial] national dish of the Philippines: adobo. Unlike other popular Filipino dishes, such as lumpia or pancit, Filipino adobo is indigenous to the archipelago. When the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, they made mention in their records of the natives preparing food in vinegar and salt. Why? Food preservation. Pinterest has enlightened many of us to vinegar’s antibacterial qualities. Combine vinegar with salt and heat and you have one serious cootie kicking combination. Later on, soy sauce eventually replaced salt as Chinese influences entered into the Philippine islands . The term adobo itself means a seasoning or marinade in Spanish. This is why you will find a vast amount of completely different dishes originating in Latin and South America that share the name adobo.
Filipino adobo is typically made with either pork or chicken. Growing up, my mother used both, but we definitely had a preference for chicken. I find that bone-in, dark meat is best, as it stands up to the stewing process and intense flavors of the vinegar and soy sauce. In the past 10 years, my mother has actually switched to using chicken wings for her adobo, which has made it a frequent request for parties. I also prefer to make my adobo to the consistency of a stew, because I love pouring the vinegary “broth” over jasmine rice and letting it soak up all that yummy flavor. Another version is to cook the adobo until the cooking liquid has reduced to a thick, glaze like consistency. If you like my mother’s chicken wing idea, I’d recommend using this latter style (use less cooking liquid).
“Aaaah, Ruth! You did so good!” my mother declared the first time she tasted my adobo. There’s nothing like receiving praises from your mother when it comes to the dishes she used to make for you when you were a child.
To add some green to this very brown dish, add petite baby bok choy during the last 5-8 minutes of cooking time so that they steam in the pot with the adobo liquid.
Filipino Chicken Adobo
- 3-3 ½ bone in, skin on dark meat
- ¾ cup soy sauce
- 1 cup white vinegar
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup to 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
- 2 large bay leaves
- 5 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- Optional: Heat oil in large, heavy pot over medium high. When oil is hot, brown the chicken lightly, but no more than 5 minutes. You’re only browning, not cooking the chicken.
- Add all remaining ingredients into the pot over the chicken.
- Over medium high heat, bring liquid to a boil.
- Cover and reduce heat so that the liquid comes to a simmer. Cook for 30-45 minutes until chicken is tender.
- Serve hot over steamed rice.