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Adobo is one of those dishes that’s practically representative of Filipino cuisine. Bring up the topic of Filipino food and one of the first memories to come to mind is a tender meat in a savory, salty, umami sauce. A good plate of adobo can unite everyone, across different backgrounds and walks of life. Known by many and beloved by all, this dish is so Filipino, it’s hard to imagine our cuisine without it! How to cook adobo is a process that has been passed down for centuries, producing the many variations we know today.
If you’ve been to any Filipino household before, you’ve seen adobo grace the dining room table at least once. It’s hard to find a Filipino family without at least one member who knows how to cook adobo. You’ll know it by its sight and smell alone –– its brown appearance and garlicky aroma is one hard to ignore.
Unsurprisingly, the Filipino way of how to cook adobo is one that dates back centuries –– even before the Spanish arrived. Due to our tropical climate, pre-colonial Filipinos used to prepare their ingredients in vinegar and salt to preserve their freshness. This applied not only to seafood, but meat like pork and chicken as well. Vinegar was such an important ingredient in Filipino cuisine that it applied not only to the adobo cooking method, but also to kinilaw, sangkutsa, and paksiw!
When the Spanish took over the country for over three centuries, they applied the term adobo to any kind of meat or ingredient that was marinated before consumption. However, this, of course, changed over time. Now, the term adobo refers solely to any dish that you marinate in a combination of vinegar, soy sauce, whole peppercorn, and garlic, amongst other spices. With a long history behind it, it’s only fitting that we deem this savory, hearty meal our (unofficial) national dish.
How to cook adobo may have changed over time; its popularity has led to a multitude of variations and versions of this Filipino classic. Despite its seemingly simple recipe, there’s a way of cooking adobo for everyone. What we have here today are 8 different methods on how to cook adobo. Some you may be completely familiar with, while others may be a completely different approach on the dish you know and love. Regardless –– whether you find an oldie but goodie or a whole new favorite, this list is a testament to the innovation of Filipinos in putting spins on even a popular dish like this one!
Without further ado, here is a list of how to cook adobo in 8 different ways. Take a look through each recipe; what you find may surprise you!
Of course, you can’t go wrong with the classics! Nothing says adobo quite like juicy, fatty pieces of pork drenched in your ever reliable soy sauce-vinegar marinade. Indeed, it’s hard to go wrong with a succulent piece of meat in the classic sauce. This has to be one of the most popular ways of cooking adobo –– and it’s so easy to do, too!
Like in any other adobo recipe, one of the most important aspects of cooking this pork adobo is ensuring you’ve marinated it thoroughly, and long enough. I recommend leaving your pork to marinate overnight, in order to further soak up all the delicious juices. If you’re pressed for time, however, try to leave at least one hour of marinating time for your pork adobo to be truly tasty.
However, be wary that leaving your pork to marinate for too long will cause the acids in the vinegar to break down your pork. This may result in meat too mushy to be fully enjoyable. While it’s good to get all those flavors in as much as possible, be sure to watch your time as well! If you aren’t cooking your meat right away, be sure to freeze your pork slices in order to fully preserve their taste, and thaw them once you’re ready to cook once again.
I love to use pork belly for the best results. Understandably, though, this may come across as being too sinful –– especially for those trying to watch their diets. If you’re looking for an alternative pork cut without having to sacrifice the adobo taste you love, pork tenderloin is an ideal sub. Additional ingredients like onions, a teaspoon of sugar, and even some leaves of basil will do wonders to the familiar, homey taste of adobo. Believe me, these elevate it more than you could ever expect!
If you asked someone how to cook adobo, one of their first questions would be what main meat you’re using. While the juicy pork belly is one of the most obvious options, another variation that Filipinos often go to is the equally tender, but slightly healthier chicken adobo! Marinated, pan-fried, then stewed to perfection, these chicken pieces are a household and nationwide favorite –– and for good reason, too!
In order for your chicken to attain the tenderness you aspire for, I like to let the pieces sit in a slow cooker or crockpot overnight. This lets your chicken become more moist, further soaking up the intensely flavorful marinade, so by the time you’re ready to cook, its flavor is close to perfection.
Another winning attribute of chicken adobo –– or any adobo in particular –– is the garlic! Garlic plays a huge role in how to cook adobo in the best way possible. This seasoning’s nutty and sometimes even spicy flavor works wonders on many dishes around the world; chicken adobo is no different. While just one clove is enough to add flavor to any dish, add as many as you like to your chicken adobo! Alongside the varying flavors of vinegar and soy sauce, garlic will add to the perfect marinade combination –– making your dish even tastier.
This chicken adobo recipe, like all the other recipes of adobo that came after it, is an adaptable one. Its main ingredients are quite simple to source, which makes this dish an easy one to cook to begin with. But if you and your family add your own special ingredients to this meal, feel free to do the same now! Whether it’s pineapples, potatoes, or eggs, how to cook adobo, at the end of the day, is completely up to you. Alongside some white rice, sinangag, or even potato salad, this dish of chicken pieces is one that goes well with almost anything, after all!
With all this talk on how to cook adobo, you may end up cooking too much of this dish. No matter how much you love adobo, sometimes your stomach has to tell you enough is enough –– but don’t fret! Your hard work in the kitchen doesn’t have to go to waste, and neither do all your leftovers. Enter this adobo fried rice: your solution to getting rid of all those leftovers taking up space in your fridge!
Adobo fried rice is the perfect breakfast meal. Breakfast, arguably, is the most important meal of the day. What isn’t contested is how much Filipinos love a warm cup of fried rice, or sinangag, to jumpstart their day; and this adobo fried rice does all that and more! The combination of a saucy and umami adobo with a warm, garlicky plate of rice is enough to make your mouth water. Think of this dish as a twist on your classic –silog meal, which is usually a combination of a viand, your garlic rice, and a nice and perfectly cooked egg.
Speaking of –– you’re free to add an egg or two to this recipe as well! Whether you’re placing an over easy egg on top of your rice after or adding bits of scrambled egg into your dish, egg is another star ingredient of any fried rice. Sunny side up, scrambled, or in omelet form, an egg is part of a perfect breakfast, and a welcome guest to this adobo fried rice recipe. The addition of spring onions complements the savory sauce that you’d soaked your adobo in prior, for a breakfast that’s truly unforgettable.
Pork and chicken may be the usual stars of the show. But, has anyone told you how to cook adobo using seafood? Living on an archipelago, it only makes sense that we’ve found innovative and creative ways to change up our cuisine in accordance to the ingredients we’re surrounded by. And seafood is abundant in our country, from fresh fish to shellfish that line our grocery store aisles.
This adobong pusit is just one of the many ways we’ve used our close proximity to the sea to our advantage! This chewy, flavorful squid makes just as delicious a star ingredient as your pork belly or chicken drumstick. The addition of the delicious squid ink really sets adobong pusit apart from the other popular variations of this dish. The rich array of flavors are enough to have you coming back for seconds –– and even more! You’ll be needing a lot of rice by the time you’ve readied this dish on your dining table.
Apart from the garlicky and savory flavors of the marinade, you can also add a piece of green chili to your adobong pusit. Filipinos love spice, after all. This not only adds a pop of color to your dish –– it gives it a refreshing zing, too! If you or your family aren’t the type to enjoy spicy food, you can opt out of this entirely. But the option is there, and it blends in harmoniously with the rest of these fantastic flavors.
When the question of how to cook adobo comes to mind, fewer ingredients are conjured up before the dark and salty soy sauce that makes up most of its marinade. This familiar condiment lends its appearance and darker hues to the dish, making it an easy stand out on any dining table. But did you know that adobo can come in a myriad of colors? That’s right –– just because it isn’t brown, doesn’t mean it isn’t adobo! Original, pre-Hispanic renditions of this dish used salt instead of soy sauce. Thus, the adobo of that time wasn’t brown at all –– it was white!
This chicken adobong puti is more like the original version of adobo than the one we’ve come to know and love. More popular in the Visayas and Mindanao regions, this recipe is incredibly simple –– much like the recipe we’re familiar with. The only difference is the use of salt instead of soy sauce in the marinade, reducing its brown hues. A piece of Knorr Chicken Cube is the key, too, to making your sauce more flavorful!
You don’t need the umami taste of soy sauce for adobo to be absolutely delicious. Although subtle in color, I guarantee you its taste won’t leave you wanting.
Who says you need meat to enjoy the filling and tasty flavors of adobo? One bite of this deliciously healthy dish is enough to prove them wrong. Adobong Kangkong retains how to cook adobo in the way we love, while being a healthy alternative to a fatty pork belly. Regardless, its taste is still delicious –– and a lot less heavy on both the stomach and the wallet.
Kangkong, or water spinach, is an easily accessible and inexpensive main star of the show. Its mild taste causes it to soak in dishes that have a much stronger sauce –– much like our adobo. It’s also incredibly versatile, as you’re able to cook it in an array of ways. From boiling, blanching, to making it into chips, kangkong’s low price and wide repertoire make it a Filipino kitchen favorite! And in adobo, it’s truly no different.
This recipe may be one of the fastest adobo renditions there is! Because kangkong cooks quite quickly, it’s best not to leave it in the pan or wok for too long. When making this recipe, the kangkong only stays in the pan for roughly 5 minutes; any longer and it may overcook! This also makes it perfect for those on the go, who want to throw together a quick meal. Perfect alongside a meat dish or as a standalone, you won’t be able to get enough!
It would be a disservice to make a list of Filipino recipes and not include one that involves gata. Nutty, milky, and creamy, gata is a favorite ingredient in Filipino cuisine. It lends its signature taste to many dishes, particularly in the Bicol region. Gata can make even the best of dishes shine even brighter. That is exactly what it does here in this particular adobo rendition.
The classic, garlicky taste of adobo is the perfect partner to the coconut milk’s distinct flavor. In about 35 minutes, you’ll have a dish that everyone at the dining table will be talking about! Explosive with flavors and different tastes, adobong manok sa gata is new and comforting, all at the same time. It’s a personal favorite of mine, and I can see it becoming one of yours, as well.
Just like with the adobong pusit, you have the option to turn up the heat on this dish! Anyone knows that coconut milk pairs harmoniously with a little spice. With a few pieces of chilis tossed into your pot, you definitely have an award-winning dish on your hands.
The last on this list of how to cook adobo is not for the faint of heart. But for the adventurous, daring, and dauntless –– you may want to give this chicken feet adobo a shot!
Like in many Asian countries, chicken feet is a popular delicacy that has found its way into Filipino cuisine. Appealing to those who like a little spice, the addition of Thai chilies breathes life into this dish. This is one of the few adobo recipes that works just as well as a pulutan as it does a main course! The gooey texture of the chicken feet soaks up the classic adobo flavors with ease, making it a perfect combination. You may be hesitant at first, but give this dish a shot; I assure you, you won’t regret it!
There you have it: eight new and old ideas on how to cook adobo, waiting for you to discover them! If this list has proved anything, it’s that Filipinos really are as innovative as they come, with new spins on timeless dishes popping up every now and again. Adobo may be a national dish, but we all can find different ways to make it uniquely our own.
Let us know which one is your favorite, whether it’s on the list or not!