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Apr 15, 2007 12:55 PM

Chicken Adobo.....

I was at a friend's house and she just tossed a few things in a pot and voila - one of the best tasting meals I've had in ages. She wrote down her recipe off the top of her head but when I made it - it was not as delectible. can anyone out there share their recipe with me and any tips for making it? I am quite sure my pregnant friend must have left something out when she shared her recipe with me - either that or she is pulling the Marie Barone meatball trick on me!


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  1. There's a huge variety of adobo techniques, and none of them is ever as good as your own mom's :) For chicken, the ingredients are fairly constant: water, vinegar, soy sauce, a bay leaf, and maybe some peppercorns. The proportions and techniques vary *a lot* though. Most recipes I've seen online seem to have you combine everything at the beginning, together with the chicken, in a big pan and cook until the chicken is falling off the bone and the sauce has reduced a lot. The amount you cook it depends how falling apart and how saucy/dry you like it. (By the end, the chicken is kind of frying in the fat that has cooked out, making it nice and crispy) My mother-in-law only puts the soy in near the end, though, and swears that when you dump in equal parts water and vinegar (in that order) at the beginning, you shouldn't stir.

    One thing that can make a big difference is the flavor of your vinegar and soy-- use a filipino cane vinegar (like datu puti brand), and a filipino or chinese soy sauce. (I.e., not something harsh and overly salty like kikkoman, if you can help it) A recent discussion of chicken adobo on this board mentioned things like ginger, garlic, cider vinegar, etc-- these are *not* the key to a tasty authentic adobo, in my opinion :)

    1. Everyone's adobo recipe will definitely vary! You'll probably have to play around with your friend's recipe a bit before you get it. This is an approximation of the one I grew up with:

      - 1 whole chicken, cut into natural segments (ie: separated at the joints: drumstick, thigh, breast, etc - though just drumsticks and thigh works well)
      - fresh pork (I unfortunately don't know the cut or proportions and you can easily leave this ingredient out)
      - 1 1/2 cup chicken stock
      - 1/2 cup white vinegar
      - 2 tbsp soy sauce
      - 1 small yellow onion
      - 2-3 cloves of garlic, mashed with the flat side of a knife (however you like, really)
      - 1 small bay leaf
      - 1/2 tsp of pickling spice
      - 1/2 tsp each of whole black peppercorns and salt
      * ginger? I'm not sure but it probably wouldn't hurt to throw in a few coin-shaped slices

      My parents made this in a slow-cooker which means you can just throw everything in and don't have to watch it, even if the chicken is frozen - since it's cooking all day it'll be ready for dinner! If you really like your friend's version, I would suggest you ask if she can show you how to make it, because like I said, everyone recipe is different. One of my aunt's put potatoes in hers which I thought was weird but whatever! :)

      2 Replies
      1. re: jubilant cerise

        So glad to see this. One of the few meals I made since being unemployed was Chicken Adobo. DD (she's 10) loved it... until she tried someone else's at her school - they had an assignment where you talk about something having to do with your country of origin, and her friend brought in "real" adobo made by her dad who is Filipino - I guess his was authentic! :-) This was back in May... and I've been banned from making adobo until I get the recipe from the dad!

        I think I'll try this recipe anyway! Except for the bay leaf and pickling sauce, both of which I've never used before, I have everything else at home. I'm amazed at how little soy sauce there is though.

        1. re: boltnut55

          If you can, pick up some of Penzey's pickling spice. It's surprisingly versatile! I've used it for corned beef, shrimp boil, pickles... even in stews in a pinch.

      2. Here's a link to an Epicurious recipe for Fillipino Style Adobo Chicken whereby you cook the chicken pieces in the vinegar-soy sauce-bay leaf mixture and THEN you saute it to brown it which I've heard is the real way to make this style of adobo and this recipe is delicious, though I am not an authority on anything, especially Fillipino foods but it's easy and excellent and only requires a few ingredients:

        1. On this topic --
          I've read a couple times (I think it was mentioned in Saveur once) that some people whisk a chicken liver into their adobo at the end of cooking. I could be very wrong here -- wrong dish, wrong organ, etc., but can anyone comment on this? I've had a few homemade adobos, and I don't think any of them employed this technique.

          11 Replies
          1. re: maestra

            this is what I was given..... does it sound right????

            Chicken Adobo

            Chicken legs and thighs with bone
            2 tbls. Vegetable oil
            4 cloves of fresh garlic (smashed)
            1 large onion – chopped
            ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
            ¾ cup of water
            ¼ cup of white wine vinegar
            1 tbls. Sugar
            3-4 bay leaves

            Add the oil to a pan and heat with smashed garlic for a min or two. Then add the above and cook COVERED on low heat for 45 mins. Do not mix once the vinegar has been added. Serve with white rice.

            1. re: KarenNYC

              Looks within the parameters of authentic adobo (the sugar and garlic are debatable, but plausible :) ) Given how much fat the chicken will release during cooking anyway, it's not clear to me that extra oil is really necessary (the garlic will roast during such a long cooking anyway, right?)

              People differ as to how soupy/dry they like their adobo; you can leave it uncovered for some or all of the cooking time, if you prefer the liquid to reduce some (keep an eye on it to make sure it isn't running out! The amount of water in this recipe might be calibrated to assume not much evaporation) As mentioned above, for a crispier version, you could quickly broil or pan-crisp the chicken at the end. (If you let the liquid evaporate, it already just crisps in the chicken fat that is in the pan at the end)

              As previously mentioned, if you thought the flavor was different, there's a good chance it was just different type of vinegar or soy. (Of course, chickens differ quite a bit too!)

              1. re: another_adam

                so what type of Vinegar and Soy would you suggest to make it more authentic?

                1. re: KarenNYC

                  Yes every chicken adobo I have had at Filipino parties it is always the thigh and leg on the bone. And you use dark soy, with palm vinegar, water, and 3 large bay leaves. White onions, and garlic. I don't think they do, but I brown the chicken first. Otherwise you have boiled chicken. That is not as tasty to me. I brown the meat in a little oil and add the soy, vinegar, water garlic onion and bay leaves. Cover and let it simmer 30 minutes, then uncover to reduce the sauce. Make jasmine rice for the sauce. That's it, I don't add any sugar. It is tart and salty and very good! Serve with zuchinni and carrots....or stir fry bok choy.
                  nice crisp lettuce saland with shredded carrot and cucumber in a rice vinegar dressing. easy.

                  1. re: chef chicklet

                    Just one thing: cut the pieces like drumsticks and thighs each into two or three pieces with a cleaver. The marrow and other good bits in the bones then combine better with the adobo. Cleave the head of the drumstick for the same reason.

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      Thank you Sam! Great tip, I need a cleaver, I can't work with one usually but this is a necessity when cutting bone and making a hacked chicken.
                      Do you brown the meat?

                      1. re: chef chicklet

                        Yes, I brown the meat just a bit at the start.

                  2. re: KarenNYC

                    That's a great tip re the bones-- you can cook chicken feet adobo-style too.
                    Silver Swan is a common filipino brand of soy sauce--I personally don't actually like it that much on its own, but it definitely would contribute a different flavor than some other brand. Cane vinegar is the most popular vinegar (e.g., Datu Puti brand)--again, nothing all that special on its own, but another possible variable in whether your adobo comes out like one from your Filipino friend's kitchen :)

                    1. re: another_adam

                      Good info in the previous replies. The epicurious recipe is a good one. There's also an entire section of adobo cooking method in the recently published book "Memories of Phillipine Kitchens." It includes recipes for various adobos, including chicken, baby back ribs, short ribs and even squid. Adobo is kind of like chili in Texas and pulled pork in NC. Everyone has their preferred recipe. My favorite restaurant version comes from a small Phillipino owned lunch counter at Pike Market in Seattle, which I hit every time I'm up there. The place has been there for years and a lot of locals eat there. All the food is cooked by the family matriarchs. Outstanding.

                2. re: KarenNYC

                  Pretty close to mine but the liquids vary a bit. Your recipe doesn't say to brownt the chicken first? I do that always, with the onion and garlic added after a good start. Then the bay leaves - I use 1 or 2. Dark soy, and white vinegar and water. little sugar...Then let it simmer and reduce to eat over rice... I think a full bodied soy sauce works best.oh well for my taste anyway!

                  1. re: chef chicklet

                    My mom taught me the same thing--always brown the chicken first to add a little texture to the finished dish. It's nice getting a little crunch in the midst of all that soft juiciness. And I agree, too, with the stronger tasting soy sauce.

                    I do, however, also brown some potatoes after the chicken, then put the chicken back in and dump in everything else. This may not be traditional, but it's what I grew up with, and what I've been passing down to my friends.

              2. Bittman has an interesting twist on the technique. Place the chicken pieces in the soy-vinegar mix and simmer. Then to crisp the skin he suggests placing on the grill. Made it a few weeks ago and it was fantastic.

                For the vinegar i used the bottle i use for sushi rice.

                4 Replies
                1. re: jfood

                  Sounds wonderful, any chance you could post the recipe?

                  1. re: SLO

                    would love to, but as a copyrighted piece the mods would nix the recipe under their recipe posting guidelines. it's in "How to Cook Everything."

                    1. re: jfood

                      You could paraphrase the recipe, that wouldn't violate anything. But this reminds me that I really need to get that cookbook...

                      1. re: Chris VR


                        ur right, its the process thats copyrighted not the ingredients

                        1c soy
                        1/2 c sushi wine vinegar (this is jfood's change from original)
                        1 c water
                        1 tablespoon chopped garlic
                        2 bay leaves
                        1/2 teaspoon black pepper
                        3-4lb chock cut into pieces

                        throw everything but the chicken in a pot. bring to a boil. add chick. simmer for 30 minutes turning once. remove and grill for a few minutes to get a nice crust. reduce liquid to by 50% to a thicker consistency.

                        eat and enjoy