Filipino Chicken Adobo Recipe
Chicken Adobo is an authentic Filipino dish and is one of the mostly recognized Filipino foods. Not to be mistaken with Mexican adobo, this dish is uniquely prepared by stewing chicken in vinegar and soy sauce.
Several sources who are experts in Asian food history say that the Filipinos were already cooking adobo even before Spanish colonization. According to them, cooking with vinegar preserves the meat. This method is also considered as one of the earliest food preservation practice.
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Chicken Adobo is a type of Filipino chicken stew. Chicken pieces are marinated in soy sauce and spices, pan-fried, and stewed until tender. The dish gained popularity because of its delicious taste and ease in preparation.
A dish that is classically and quintessentially Pinoy, chicken adobo is a dish that is beloved by many across the country. While there have been several variations of adobo across the years, chicken adobo remains one of the most popular –– and for good reason!
The taste of juicy chicken in a succulent, umami adobo sauce makes chicken adobo a comfort food for all ages. From kids to adults, we can’t get enough of this mouthwatering meal!
What is Adobo Chicken?
A dish and cooking process native to the Philippines, adobo refers to the method of marinating meat, seafood, or vegetables (pretty much anything!) in a combination of soy sauce and vinegar. This marinade also includes other herbs and flavorings like garlic, bay leaves, and whole peppercorns.
Cooking food in vinegar is no foreign concept to us Filipinos. In pre-colonial times, our ancestors used to cook seafood in vinegar in order to preserve their freshness. Many regard adobo as a spin on kinilaw, which is another traditional cooking method. Kinilaw refers mainly to cooking raw seafood in vinegar and spices. Another similar process is paksiw, which utilizes meat broth in vinegar and spices.
What really sets adobo apart is the presence of soy sauce in its marinade. While vinegar has a pungent aroma and a very distinctly sour taste, soy sauce is on both the sweeter and saltier side. A staple in any Asian household, soy sauce (or toyo) definitely helps in bringing out chicken adobo’s savory taste.
(Here’s a fun fact: did you know that there are different kinds of soy sauce? In Japan especially, there are five different kinds of soy sauce that each have their own unique flavors and uses. The most common one you’ll find in markets is dark soy sauce, or koikuchi. With a deeper color than most other types, dark soy sauce is packed with flavor –– perfect for your chicken adobo!)
Adobo also contains dry bay leaves in its recipe. Although you aren’t to eat them whole, bay leaves lend their subtle, deep flavors to this umami dish. It may not be the star of the show, but your chicken adobo wouldn’t be complete without it. However, you can choose to substitute this herb with basil if you can’t find it at stores.
Chicken Adobo Origin
The famous Chicken Adobo originated in the Philippines. The dish is prepared using the Inadobo style of cooking. It means cooking meat or seafood with vinegar and mostly soy sauce. It is a popular method during the olden days when refrigerators and freezers were not yet available because vinegar helps extend the shelf life of food. Another popular variation is pork adobo using pork belly,
How to Cook Chicken Adobo
Cooking Chicken Adobo is quick and simple. This recipe suggests marinating the chicken to make it more flavorful. It is the best way to go if you want to experience authentic Filipino chicken adobo. If you are in a hurry, feel free to skip this step, but make sure to simmer the chicken longer than 30 minutes to better extract the flavors from it.
Start by marinating the chicken in soy sauce and garlic. The garlic needs to be crushed for best results. This process takes 1 hour to 12 hours depending on how flavorful you want the dish to be. Sometimes marinating for an hour is not enough. I think that 3 hours is optimal. The chicken absorbs most of the flavors from the soy sauce and garlic during this step. It is noticeable when you taste the dish after cooking. Note that it is also possible to include the vinegar in this step.
The next step is to separate the chicken from the marinade. Make sure to set the marinade aside because it will be used later on. Pan-fry the chicken pieces for 1 to 1 ½ minutes per side. This will partially cook the outer part. It also makes the skin tough enough to withstand stewing later. This means that it will remain intact, which is nice for presentation.
Pour marinade into the pot and add water. Let boil. The bay leaves and whole peppercorn can now be added. The process takes 20 to 25 minutes depending on the quality of the chicken. However, feel free to cook longer in low heat for a super tender chicken adobo.
Add the vinegar. This can also be added as a part of the marinade. Let it cook for 10 minutes and then add sugar and salt. I only add salt if needed. It is important to taste your dish before adding seasonings.
Filipino chicken adobo can be served with or without sauce. If you like it very tasty then continue to cook on an uncovered cooking pot until the liquid completely evaporates.
Cooking Tips and Alternative Ingredients
Chicken adobo is one of the easiest dishes you can make! It is a very straightforward recipe, and one even beginner to novice cooks can follow with ease. It is also an adaptable one; if you’re one to like onions, potatoes, pineapples, or eggs in your adobo, feel free to have it! With so many variations, chicken adobo really has something for everyone.
The most important part of cooking chicken adobo is the marinade. The longer you let your chicken marinate in the rich combination of adobo flavors, the tastier it’ll be! I tend to make multiple batches of chicken adobo, so I can cook adobo whenever I feel like it. The longer it stays in the freezer, the more your chicken is able to absorb adobo’s amazing taste.
Marinating can be a time consuming process depending on how you view the situation. Since I cook this often for my family, I usually prepare the chicken ahead of time. I marinate 3 batches of chicken pieces the night before I cook the first batch. Keep the remaining marinated chicken in the freezer for later use.
Tips & Tricks
If you want your chicken to be a lot tenderer before the actual cooking process, another option you have is letting your chicken marinate inside a slow cooker or crockpot the night before. By leaving it to steep overnight, you are further enhancing its flavors. Putting meat in a slow cooker makes your chicken adobo much juicier; it’ll practically melt in your mouth!
You might be wondering, too, about what to serve with chicken adobo. As is the deal with many Filipino dishes, you can never go wrong with pairing your ulam with a heaping bowl or plate of white or brown rice! Simply pouring adobo sauce over rice is a satisfying and delicious treat on its own. Another carb I recommend with chicken adobo is mashed potatoes, or even quinoa if you want something healthier! A refreshing fruit salad may also work in order to cut through that rich, garlicky, umami taste.
Other Kinds of Adobo
Many love chicken adobo because of its accessibility. This dish’s ingredients are easy to find along your local supermarket aisles, and they’re also on the more cost-efficient side –- perfect for a morning, noon, or night meal.
But while chicken adobo is one of the most popular renditions of this classic dish, there are several other variations that have made adobo as well loved as it is today.
Adobong Manok sa Gata (Chicken Adobo in Coconut Milk)
Think of this variation as your regular chicken adobo with a spin! The addition of coconut milk (or gata) in your traditional adobo makes for a richer and creamier dish. Fans of the tropical flavors of coconut milk will definitely enjoy this adobo with warm white rice. Chicken adobo sa gata is great for those who want to try something new out with a classic family favorite.
Killer Chicken Adobo
You may be surprised to learn that this version of adobo actually includes lemon lime soda! Sounds strange? Don’t worry; it felt that way for me at first, too. But lemon lime not only works as a great source of sugar; it also makes your chicken a lot juicier! This version of adobo is a bit on the dryer side, but you still get to retain chicken that’s deliciously moist.
Coke Pork Adobo
Another popular protein you find in adobo apart from chicken is pork! Lean and succulent, pork belly is a juicy and viable substitute if you’re looking to make your adobo a little more sinful. What makes this kind of pork adobo special is the presence of Coke in the cooking process. Using Coke in Coke Pork Adobo adds that extra bit of sweetness to this umami dish. Cooking your pork in this soft drink (any soft drink, really!) is also a great way to make your dish that little bit more tender.
Adobong Pusit (Squid Adobo)
One of the perks of living on an archipelago is that fresh seafood is ever abundant! Fish, squid, and other shellfish line the fresh and frozen sections of our supermarkets with ease. And one of the best ways to enjoy this bounty of seafood is, of course, to turn it into adobo! Adobong Pusit is one of the quickest and most uncomplicated ways of enjoying adobo. While the task of cleaning and slicing shrimp may seem daunting at first, it’s actually quite simple! And from thereon, doing the rest of the recipe comes as just a breeze. So when you see squid at the supermarket, don’t hesitate to try it for this yummy recipe!
Humble but nutritious, kangkong is a vegetable rich in several vitamins and nutrients. Also called water spinach, kangkong is green, leafy, and mild in taste––and the flavors of adobo sauce bring a vibrance to kangkong that wasn’t there before! This adobong kangkong is great for people who want to cut down on the amount of meat in their diet. If you’re still craving those delicious adobo flavors but don’t want the heaviness of pork or chicken adobo, I recommend this! Not only is it super healthy, but you just can’t go wrong with that classic adobo taste.
You can also try this variation with sitaw (string beans), and a hearty, crisp topping of chicharon too!
Which variation of adobo is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below. But if you want to learn how to make the classic chicken adobo, read on.
Did you end up making more chicken adobo than you thought you would? This is actually quite a common problem, believe it or not. Regardless, it’s a problem that comes with a fairly easy solution.
If you want to make the most out of your chicken adobo leftovers, turn it into adobo fried rice! This adobo fried rice is the best way to enjoy the adobo you have left. Although I use pork in this recipe, chicken works just as well. Since we Filipinos love rice, incorporating our leftover pieces of another dish we love and mixing them together just makes sense. With or without egg, it’s definitely a treat.
This dish is best served with warm white rice. This does not mean that you cannot pair it with other side dishes though. Here are some of the different side dish recipes I recommend:
Garlicky, savory, and oh so scrumptious, adobo fried rice is the best thing to wake you up in the morning!
With how delicious chicken adobo is, there’s no wondering why many hail it as the National Dish of the Philippines. Rivaling only the sour sinigang broth, adobo’s unique flavor makes it so beloved.
This recipe for chicken adobo tastes just right and the cooking time is around 30 minutes. The best way to eat chicken adobo is to have it with warm white rice. The combo is simply known as Chicken Adobo and Rice. Pouring some of the adobo sauce over rice before eating is a good idea because it makes it more flavorful.
Try this Filipino Chicken Adobo Recipe and let me know what you think.
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- 2 lbs chicken (note 1)
- 3 pieces dried bay leaves (note 2)
- 8 tablespoons soy sauce (note 3)
- 4 tablespoons white vinegar (note 4)
- 5 cloves garlic (note 5)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar (note 6)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (note 7)
- 1 teaspoon whole peppercorn (note 8)
- Combine chicken, soy sauce, and garlic in a large bowl. Mix well. Marinate the chicken for at least 1 hour. Note: the longer the time, the better2 lbs chicken, 8 tablespoons soy sauce
- Heat a cooking pot. Pour cooking oil.3 tablespoons cooking oil
- When the oil is hot enough, pan-fry the marinated chicken for 2 minutes per side.
- Pour-in the remaining marinade, including garlic. Add water. Bring to a boil1 1/2 cups water
- Add dried bay leaves and whole peppercorn. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the chicken gets tender3 pieces dried bay leaves, 1 teaspoon whole peppercorn
- Add vinegar. Stir and cook for 10 minutes.4 tablespoons white vinegar
- Put-in the sugar, and salt. Stir and turn the heat off.Serve hot. Share and Enjoy!1 teaspoon sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Chicken: slice the chicken into serving pieces before cooking. The cuts are usually smaller. For example, a regular piece of chicken breast can be divided into 2 to 3 pieces depending on your preference.
- Bay leaves: This is an essential ingredient for Filipino adobo as far as I am concerned. Dried bay leaves (locally called “dahon ng laurel”) are usually used because of it is available year round. It can also be stored longer in room temperature. However, fresh bay leaves can also be utilized for this recipe.
- Soy sauce: I personally prefer Filipino brand soy sauce in making adobo. I have nothing against Kikkoman and other Asian brands, but the dish will taste more authentic if local soy sauce is used.
- Vinegar: White vinegar is the most common type to use for adobo. Sometimes I use cane or rice vinegar too.
- Garlic: Adobo should be garlicy. The garlic can be sauteed and boiled just like in this recipe, or it can be toasted. I toast this by browning the crushed garlic in oil before adding the chicken. Sometimes I make extra toasted garlic so that I have more for garnish later on.
- Sugar: this is an optional ingredient. Sugar is added to balance the saltiness of the dish. You can add more too if you want your chicken adobo to be on the sweet side.
- Salt: This is optional because the soy sauce is already salty to begin with. I only add salt when needed, which is not usual.
- Peppercorn: It does not matter if it is is whole, crushed, or ground. Whole peppercorn has just been used traditionally.
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