What started as a preservative, adobo is now considered the “national dish of the Philippines.” Due to the Philippines' geographical location, adobo varies slightly from region to region, but most Filipinos agree that the main ingredients are soy sauce (or salt), vinegar, and garlic. Black peppercorns and bay leaves are also important. The main proteins used are chicken or pork, or a combination of both. You can also prepare squid or vegetable versions.
Vinegar: The Key to Adobo
Vinegar is crucial in making adobo. The acidity of the vinegar was used to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in the original dish. However, due to modern food safety and storage methods, vinegar is now valued primarily for its tangy taste. The most commonly used vinegar in the Philippines is sugarcane or coconut vinegar. You can find these vinegars at your local Asian market or online. An alternative is rice wine or apple cider vinegar. I find that white vinegar is too harsh for this recipe.
How to make chicken adobo
The adobo cooking method consists of braising followed by pan-frying. At my restaurant, Kuma Inn, we finish the dish by pan-frying, but sometimes we also finish it on the grill, in the sally (broiler), or in the deep fryer, all of which produce delicious results. If pan-frying at home is too messy, I would suggest cooking the dish under the broiler.
What to Serve with Chicken Adobo
Serve chicken adobo with white rice or garlic fried rice.
Tips for Making Chicken Adobo
- You can use this adobo ratio/method with other proteins or vegetables. Adjust cooking times depending on the protein or vegetables you are using.
- For the most tender and delicious chicken adobo, use dark chicken meat such as thighs, legs, and wings. These pieces contain more fat and collagen, which fuses with the broth as it cooks, giving it flavor and body. Additionally, these chicken pieces are resistant to overcooking, meaning they can be cooked to a higher internal temperature than chicken breasts without drying out or becoming tough.
- Adobo tastes even better the next day when the braising liquid has more time to marinate the chicken.
- While shallow frying the cooked chicken gives it the crispiest skin, if you'd rather not fry it, you can fry it in a skillet in a little oil or grill it on a cooling rack in a baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven (the browning is on the top rail will cause them to burn).
- Cook the chicken at a gentle simmer to prevent the meat from becoming tough. Occasionally lift the lid off the pot to make sure the liquid is not boiling. If you have difficulty regulating the heat, you can place the lid partially on the pot or remove the lid completely to quickly lower the temperature.
“This is a wonderful combination of crispy, flavorful chicken and rich, flavorful sauce. Goes great with rice and sprinkled with spring onions. Be careful when frying if your chicken pieces are still moist from the braising liquid, as the oil may splatter.” –Julia Hartbeck
3/4 Cup I am willow
1 Cup sugar cane vinegar
1 Cup Water
6 cloves Garliccrushed
3/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 Bay leaves
3 Pound Chicken pieces with bones
2 cups vegetable oil
Gather the ingredients.
In a large Dutch oven or other sturdy pot, combine soy sauce, vinegar, water, garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves.
Add the chicken and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Place pot over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low to simmer, and cover. Simmer over low heat until chicken is tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the braising liquid and place on a rack to dry.
Increase heat to medium-high and reduce braising liquid until flavors are more concentrated, about 10 minutes. This will be your sauce. Set aside until the chicken is fried.
Add oil to a deep, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil reaches 350 F on an instant-read thermometer, add the chicken in batches to avoid crowding the pan. Fry until golden brown on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes per batch.
Return the chicken to the Dutch oven with the reserved sauce. Toss the chicken in the sauce and serve.
Here's how to store it
Store leftover chicken adobo in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat by simmering gently in the sauce (you may need to thin it with water or chicken stock) or in the microwave.
- If you can't find sugarcane vinegar, you can substitute it with coconut vinegar, rice wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.
- Adjust the vinegar depending on how sour you like your adobo. I prefer sour.
- In some regions of the Philippines, cooks reduce the braising liquid entirely or add a splash of coconut milk to finish the sauce.
- You can also spice it up with sliced Thai chilies. Add one to three chilies, depending on your preference.
|Nutritional Information (per serving)|
View full nutrition label
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Saturated fat 14g||68%|
|Total sugar 0g|
|Vitamin C 2 mg||8th %|
|Calcium 69 mg||5%|
|Iron 6 mg||35%|
|Potassium 912 mg||19%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) indicates how much a nutrient in a food portion contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories per day is used for general nutritional advice.|
(Nutritional information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)