Philippines – Chicken Adobo

Philippines - 001 Chicken Adobo edited re-sized

Adobo is comfort food in the Philippines. As with all comfort food, their popularity and familiarity means every household has their own style of cooking adobo. Each using varying amounts of vinegar, garlic, sugar and pepper and in some cases, with the addition of a bit of this or that to suit their own tastebuds. The main ingredient is chicken or pork or a combination of both. However, fish and other types of seafood and even coconut milk can be added to make a different adobo dish.

One of our previous Filipina helpers introduced my family to our first taste of adobo chicken and pork adobo years ago. It was an instant hit with my young children then. My daugther’s helper, Shirley, recently re-introduced this dish to us and it was well received. Here is Shirley’s recipe.

Some comments about Ingredients

  • Chicken. Although chicken wings are featured in the photo, you can use cut up pieces of a whole chicken weighing about 1.2 kilos. Pork can be a total substitute for chicken or partial. If you have decided to cook Pork and Chicken Adobo, add 500gm of pork (boston butt or very lean belly are suitable cuts) and adjust the amount of seasoning accordingly.
  • Vinegar. Simple white distilled vinegar by a brand called Heinz or Chinese rice vinegar is sufficient. In the Philipines, palm vinegar is used and it is milder in flavour.
  • Bay leaves. I have a small bush in my garden so what you see in the photo are fresh green leaves. Dry bay leaves are suitable too.

Preparation

STEP 1. Wash and cut chicken wings into its 3 sections at the joints. If you are using whole chicken cut it into pieces like curry style. If you are adding pork, wash and cut it into 3  to 4 cm cubes

STEP 2. Wash and lightly smash garlic cloves. Wash black peppercorns and fill it into a “tea” bag. Peel and roughly chop half a large onion. Wash bay leaves. Measure required amount of vinegar, sugar, light soy sauce, salt and water.

Cooking Dish

STEP 1. Heat thick bottomed saucepan or pot (here I’m using a Tanyu pot which is similar to a clay-pot) over medium high heat. Add 1 Tbsp cooking oil. Once oil heats up, add in chopped onion and fry it for a minute. Them, add garlic cloves and cook for another minute or so. Next, add the chicken pieces. Continue cooking and turning the chicken pieces now and then for another 10 mins or so.

HINT: If you are cooking a Chicken and Pork Adobo, add the sliced pieces of pork with the chicken pieces.

STEP 2. Whilst continuing to cook the ingredients, add the seasoning – light soy sauce, salt, black peppercorns, bay leaves. Stir and cook to caramelise the meat/s. This should take about 5 mins or so.

STEP 3. Vinegar and perhaps 1/4 to 1/2 cup water are added next. Mix well.

STEP 4. Cover pot to keep a constant heat and cook contents for about 15 mins. The red chilly pepper (optional) and sugar are the last ingredients to be added. Cover and cook another 5 mins. Check how cooked are the meats. The middle wing section of the chicken wing tends to cook a little quicker than the drummette and the pieces of pork. If this is the case, take out the middle wing section and leave the rest to cook uncovered for 5 to 10 mins longer. Sauce should be a little thick.

Plate the contents attractively and serve with plain steamed rice.

RECIPE

Serves 4 persons

Ingredients

  • 1 kg of chicken wings or a whole 1.2 kg chicken, cut into pieces.
  • 1/2 whole onion (75 gm), peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 4 whole garlic cloves (35 gm), washed and lightly smashed
  • 4 to 5 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • About 1/2 cup of water

Optional – one or two large red chillies, seeded and cut into 2 pieces.

Method

Preparation

1. Wash and cut chicken wings into its 3 sections at the joints. If you are using whole chicken cut it into pieces like curry style. If you are adding pork, wash and cut it into 3  to 4 cm cubes

2. Wash and lightly smash garlic cloves. Wash black peppercorns and fill it into a “tea” bag. Peel and roughly chop half a large onion. Wash bay leaves. Measure required amount of vinegar, sugar, light soy sauce, salt and water.

Cooking

1. Heat thick bottomed saucepan or pot (here I’m using a Tanyu pot which is similar to a clay-pot) over medium high heat. Add 1 Tbsp cooking oil. Once oil heats up, add in chopped onion and fry it for a minute. Them, add garlic cloves and cook for another minute or so. Next, add the chicken pieces. Continue cooking and turning the chicken pieces now and then for another 10 mins or so.

HINT: If you are cooking a Chicken and Pork Adobo, add the sliced pieces of pork with the chicken pieces.

2. Whilst continuing to cook the ingredients, add the seasoning – light soy sauce, salt, black peppercorns, bay leaves. Stir and cook to caramelise the meat/s. This should take about 5 mins or so.

3. Vinegar and perhaps 1/4 to 1/2 cup water are added next. Mix well.

4.  Cover pot to keep a constant heat and cook contents for about 15 mins. The red chilly pepper (optional) and sugar are the last ingredients to be added. Cover and cook another 5 mins. Check how cooked are the meats. The middle wing section of the chicken wing tends to cook a little quicker than the drummette and the pieces of pork. If this is the case, take out the middle wing section and leave the rest to cook uncovered for 5 to 10 mins longer. Sauce should be a little thick.

Plate the contents attractively and serve with plain steamed rice.

Serving Suggestions

Most likely, this dish will be complimented with others for a complete meal. HINT: Try to use those ingredients that are currently in the fridge, freezer or larder. A sample weekly marketing check-list can be found here, click.

Since the Song Dynasty, Chinese influences on Filipino cuisine were brought about through trade and cultural exchanges. Tofu, soy sauce, fish sauce, bean sprouts and rice vermicelli are just some of the ingredients which have adopted into Filipino cuisine. Trade with its Indonesian neighbours introduced ingredients like belachan, and dishes like rendang and curries. Hence, any of the dishes suggested below are suitable.

Chinese Soups

1. Jin Hua Ham and Winter Melon Soup. Click here.

2. Lotus Root, Peanut and Pork Ribs. Click here

3. Radishes and Dried Squid. Click here.

4. Pork Stomach with Peppercorn. Click here

5. Tang Ho with Fishballs. Click here

Seafood dishes

1. Dry Assam Seafood. Click here

2. Fried Fish with Fermented Black Bean Sauce. Click here.

3. Stuffed You Tiao (Baked).  Click here.

Meat dishes

1. Beef Rendang (spicy). Click here

2. Singapore Curry Chicken (spicy). Click here.

3. Cha Siu or Chinese BBQ Pork. Click here.

Vegetable, Tofu and Egg Dishes

1. Broccoli and Meat/Tofu Stir Fry. Click here.

2. Pork, Spinach and Egg Stir Fry. Click here.

3. Ladies Fingers with Dried Sambal Prawns (spicy). Click here.

4. Shanghai Cabbage with Oyster Sauce & Garlic. Click here.

Dessert

A plate of cold, freshly cut seasonal fruits is always appropriate. Perhaps you had time to make anyone of the desserts listed below?

1. Almond Jelly + Longans Click here.

2. Coconut Jelly with Can Lychees. Click here.

3. Sago Pudding. Click here.

4.  Leche Flan (Caramel Custard) Click here.

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