The savory, umami combination of soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic breathes life into the classic dish we know as adobo. Who doesn’t love deliciously tender chunks of chicken that soak up an incredibly dynamic sauce? With easy, go-to components like eggs, peppercorn, vinegar, soy sauce and bay leaves, among others, it comes as no surprise that chicken adobo is a no fail meal in many Filipino homes. We love this dish for its vibrant flavors and addictive aroma; that go-to mix of salty and sweet can do no wrong! As such, there’s a reason why this perfect chicken adobo is heralded as a national dish!
Easy and all set in less than half an hour (if you don’t count the time for marinating), chicken adobo is a no-fuss, no-frills, but always guaranteed meal to enjoy. It’s a simple one pot meal, designed to create the most amount of goodness with as little effort as possible. For even beginner chefs, chicken adobo is a fantastic place to start their culinary journey. Ingredients are easy to find, and instructions are easier to follow — what’s even easier is getting to enjoy your perfect chicken adobo after your hard work! And if you’re a beginner chef on a budget? No need to worry! This perfect chicken adobo recipe we’re making now will give you all the flavor you love without having to break the bank!
Where did adobo came from?
Like sinigang, tinola, and other Filipino favorites, our perfect chicken adobo is native to the Philippines. But did you know that adobo actually refers, not to a specific dish, but to a cooking method? You may already know this, but adobo was what we called the cooking method of preparing food in vinegar and salt. This was to keep food like meat and fish fresh, even in the warm tropical climate.
Apart from adobo, three other traditional cooking methods are said to be the most timeless and oldest ways we’ve used vinegar in the Philippines. Some of these may surprise you, as they’re timeless Filipino favorites, too! Let’s have a look.
Deliciously tangy and irresistibly juicy, kinilaw is the Filipino ceviche: tasty and tart raw fish in a refreshing marinade. Here, the best and freshest tuna slices meet the sharp flavors of calamansi, ginger, red chilis, and — you guessed it — vinegar! Perfect with a cold bottle of beer and a night out with friends, kinilaw is another example of a true classic that’s been around since time immemorial. And for good reason, too; isn’t it just delicious?
Another Filipino food staple is none other than the simple but delicious paksiw! Now, this dish is quite unlike the flavorful adobo that we’re used to. Here, paksiw does away with even more frills and fuss; no soy sauce, no bay leaves. What you have instead is clean and meaty fish combined with zesty vinegar for that kick of flavor. You can use whatever kind of fish you want for this recipe, too; living on an archipelago like ours, you’re practically spoiled for choice!
But paksiw doesn’t apply solely to fish; fans of our perfect chicken adobo shouldn’t hesitate to turn to this chicken paksiw recipe, too! If you have chicken pieces left over, this recipe will be as easy as 1, 2, 3. Just like in chicken adobo, your tender chicken will absorb the savory and sour flavors of tasty paksiw. Mouthwatering and overwhelmingly fragrant, you won’t be able to resist digging into this fantastic dish! Further, in this dish you’ll be making use of the incredibly rich lechon sauce. While you can buy this from the store, it doesn’t hurt to make it at home, too!
And speaking of lechon — lechon paksiw is always a classic! This recipe comes in handy particularly after days of celebration and family gatherings. More often than not, you have some lechon tucked away in some tupperware, don’t you? Luckily enough, you can take your “party favors” and transform them into another entirely different yet still tasty meal. Who says the party has to end, when you have such tasty treats awaiting you?
Last, but definitely not least, we have the cooking method known as sangkutsa! And no, this isn’t a conjunction of isang kutsara. This particular method gets its name from a Spanish word, salcochar, with the literal translation being “to boil in salt water.” Sangkutsa refers to parboiling, or partially cooking meat, before moving on to the next steps in your recipe. In the traditional meaning of sangkutsa, this is basically a pre-cooked braising of your meat of choice in a mix of vinegar and other spices. Nowadays, however, you can use the sangkutsa method with more than just vinegar!
In dishes like menudo or afritada, sangkutsa plays a large role in ensuring that your meat soaks up all the flavorful spices and seasonings. By allowing your meat to braise, your dish becomes not only delicious but also oh, so tender. For meat that all but melts in your mouth, sangkutsa is the perfect method to achieve just that!
Tips for cooking your perfect chicken adobo
With easily sourced ingredients and a straightforward recipe, it’s hard to go wrong with a chicken adobo. But, if you’re still on the prowl for ways to up the ante even more, look no further! Here are some ways that you can make your perfect chicken adobo even more perfect.
Lean into those natural flavors
As you may have seen from our discussion earlier, chicken adobo just wouldn’t be chicken adobo without the value-adding, life-giving vinegar. While you’re free to use any vinegar you have at home, we highly recommend that you use natural vinegar instead. This is how you’re able to really get the perfect flavor that will complement the saltiness of your soy sauce and sweetness of your sugar. Further, don’t skip out on the bay leaves and peppercorn! They might seem inconsequential, but trust us when we say they add more to your adobo’s flavor palate than you know. If you want that extra depth and spice to your perfect chicken adobo, bay leaves and peppercorn are an absolute must.
Slow and steady is the way to go!
You’ve heard this piece of advice time and again, but it’s always worth repeating: the marinade is worth the wait! If you have the time to spare, I’d highly recommend marinating your chicken in the soy sauce and vinegar mix the night before cooking. This really allows the flavors to set into your chicken, so by the time you’re ready to cook it’s already tremendously flavorful. Letting your marinade sit for about 12 hours is the maximum and optimal way to go. Any more, though, and you might end up making your meat too soft and mushy.
Adjust and adapt
When it comes to adobo, there are so many different ways to enjoy it. Do you like it saucy instead of dry? Adjust how much water you put into the pot! Do you enjoy your dish with potatoes, onions — maybe even basil? Add those to the mix, too, if your budget permits! The key to making the perfect chicken adobo is simple — to make it perfect for the one eating it, and that’s you!
Your perfect chicken adobo awaits! Follow this recipe with me, and you’ll get it in no time.
The first important step when it comes to making your chicken adobo is the marinade. This is the backbone of every perfect chicken adobo recipe: making sure that your meat is tender and flavorful! Combine your chicken pieces, soy sauce and vinegar in equal portions, and 5 cloves of garlic. Mix these well until you’ve incorporated all your ingredients; your chicken should be covered in this aromatic mix of sauces. Once you’re happy with how you’ve fixed the ingredients, let your chicken marinate for at least 30 minutes.
In this time, you can prepare your other ingredients — like your eggs! Who says that you have to eat less when you’re on a budget? Here, your eggs will make your perfect chicken adobo all the more filling — and enjoyable! Using 5 eggs of medium size, boil them for 10 minutes. Do this without having cracked the eggs. Then, let them cool down afterwards; once they don’t hurt or scald to the touch, you can start to peel the shells off each one! The result? Beautiful, pristine hard boiled eggs, with a firm yolk and rich and creamy egg whites. Definitely the perfect bonus to an already perfect chicken adobo.
Once the 30 minutes has gone by for your marinade, now’s the time for you to cook the rest of your chicken adobo! To begin, heat 3 tablespoons of cooking oil in a pan. Sauté the remaining 3 garlic cloves in the oil until they start to beautifully brown. then add a cup of water. Bring this to a boil before tossing in your bay leaves, a whole peppercorn, and a Knorr Chicken Cube. The bay leaves and peppercorn do more than just add to the aesthetic value; indeed, these spices breathe more life into your dish in a subtle but impactful way. The chicken cube also further deepens your flavor palate, bringing out that chicken flavor all the more.
Cover the pan once you’ve added in all of these components. Let your chicken adobo continue cooking for about 15 to 20 minutes. Keep your heat down low to medium at highest; you don’t want to overcook your chicken, after all. When your time is up, the next step would be to add sugar. This gives an additional layer of sweetness to a flavorfully complex dish, and will make it all the more delicious! Don’t forget to add in your eggs too for that perfect finishing touch. Gently stir your perfect chicken adobo, and cook for a last two minutes.
That blissfully fragrant smell in the air is proof that your dish is ready for consumption! Turn the heat off the stove and transfer your dish to a serving plate. Prepare a huge bowl of newly cooked rice to accompany it—and you’re done! You and your family can now dig into this perfect chicken adobo.
Rich, umami, and ultimately budget-friendly, you can’t go wrong with this perfect chicken adobo. Let us know what you and your loved ones think of this dish!
Perfect Chicken Adobo on a Budget
- Combine chicken, soy sauce, vinegar, and 5 cloves garlic. Mix well until all ingredients are well incorporated. Marinate for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, boil the eggs for 10 minutes. Let the eggs cool down afterwards and peel off the shell.
- Heat oil in a pan. sauté the remaining garlic until it starts to turn brown.
- Add the marinated chicken (do not include the marinade yet). Cook for 3 minutes.
- Pour the remaining marinade into the pan and add water. Let boil.
- Add bay leaves, whole peppercorn, and Knorr Chicken Cube. Stir. Cover the pan and continue cooking using low to medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Add the sugar and put the eggs into the pan. Gently stir. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Transfer to a serving plate and serve along with a huge bowl of newly cooked rice.
- Share and enjoy!