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OBSESSED with chicken adobo

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I've been rather obsessed with this dish recently and have watched endless youtube videos and looked at recipes. It does seem that everyone has a different version. I've come up with my own version by combining ideas from others. I would like to know if this qualifies as somewhat authentic or have my slight modifications turned it into something else. I saw one guy using honey, which gave me the idea but it's certainly not very common in the recipes I've found.

8-10 chicken thighs
1/3 cup white vinegar
2/3 cup soy sauce
1 huge onion, chopped
about 8-10 garlic cloves, chopped
bay leaves
black pepper
2 Tbl. honey

1. Brown the thighs
2. Add the remaining ingredients except pepper and honey
3. Cover and cook 30 minutes
4. Uncover, flip chicken, add honey and pepper and cook another 20 minutes
5. skim off fat
6. serve with white rice

I've read about not stirring after adding the vinegar. What's up with that?
Made it with peppercorns the first time around, but made it too hard to eat.
Some people like to fry the chicken at the end, but I've gone the easy route.
My guys love this dish.

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  1. That's a perfectly good adobo. Maybe feather cut the onion and cut the thighs in two with a cleaver for a bit more "authenticity".

    5 Replies
    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

      On the one hand, I know that cutting the thighs in two would make it even better - with the marrow giving it fuller flavor, but the ease of this dish is just so thrilling. So you say feather rather than chop - I'll have to give it a go. And I'm sure I'll do the thigh cut at some point.

      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

        Sam (or somebody), what does it mean to feather cut an onion? Thanks!

        1. re: Pia

          I'm presuming he means slice ever so thinly.

          1. re: Pia

            Peel and cut the onion in half along the stem to butt axis, place the half cut side down and slice thinly along the same - stem axis- cuting thinly straight down, What separates out are "feathers" (rather than the half rings you get cutting in the other direction). It is one of the fastest cuts for an onion - about 20 seconds for a large whole onion.

          2. re: Sam Fujisaka

            Hola, Sam! Y cual es su receta? Or maybe recetas would be more correct, since you'd probably have a Filipino version, a South American version, maybe a Hawaiian version, and a hybrid? ;-)

          3. My friend from Manila makes hers with about 4-6 star anise in place of bay leaves, and without the honey or sugar. The star anise gives it a very different flavor. I suppose this would be a more Chinese influenced version, but no less Filipino. Also try using palm vinegar or coconut vinegar if you can find it.

            4 Replies
            1. re: yumamum

              I'll second the recommendation for coconut vinegar. You might try to see if you can find it in an Asian market. I also usually use a couple of tablespoons of fish sauce (patis). If you can't find patis, Tiparos Thai fish sauce is more common in the U.S. and is fairly similar.

              1. re: yumamum

                rice vinegar can also be used. some say too mild. i know people who have citrus trees that use lemon, lime, or even grapefruit or orange juice for some of the vinegar.

                1. re: yumamum

                  Star anise is a common addition to paksiw, protein, often a roast chicken or pork, cooked in vinegar, though it usually has sugar/honey added, as in Chinese red-cooking. Either way, the variation you describe certainly sounds delicious and flavorful.

                  1. re: yumamum

                    thank you so much for this variation, yumamum! tried this last night - but added the honey too. yum!

                  2. Every family has their own adobe recipe and your boys will fondly remember your dish when they are on their own (save it and others for a cookbook when they leave).

                    Our recipe is a bit higher on the vinegar to soy ratio and calls for browning the chicken in pork fat to start. It doesn't have onion (although I might add it next time). The chicken remains in the sauce and does not get browned.

                    Have not a clue about stirring the vinegar.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: alwayscooking

                      I've thought about trying a little higher vinegar proportion. Do try the onion - the sauce is amazing! I had to laugh at your post because one of my "boys" is actually my husband. I only have one son and I've actually started a little cookbook for him. Thanks for reminding me to add this one. It's definitely a keeper.

                    2. Your recipe is authentic, because there are many styles of adobo. I always make it from my grandma's recipe (she is an ilokano born in hawaii):

                      1 good size free range (or other good quality) chicken, hacked into small pieces (16) with a cleaver
                      1/4 cup or to taste apple cider vinegar
                      1/4 cup or to taste shoyu
                      4 chopped garlic cloves
                      3 quarter-sized slices ginger, smashed
                      a few bay leaves
                      black pepper
                      A little water

                      1. Marinate the the chicken with the vinegar, shoyu, garlic, ginger, bay leaves, and black pepper in a medium pot for 1-2 hours.
                      2. BARELY cover with water and bring to a boil (this is important because you want the water to evaporate without overcooking the chicken)
                      3. Bring down to a medium-low, then partially cover and cook at a strong simmer until most of the liquid is gone and the chicken is cooked or almost cooked
                      4. Raise the heat to medium-high to quickly evaporate the rest of the water. Afterwards, let the chicken brown in its own fat until dark brown and crispy.
                      5. Enjoy with rice and pinakbet or an assortment of other ilokano/filipino dishes. The crispy bits left at the bottom of the pot are especially good.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: kirinraj

                        Yes, any chicken adobo in the Philippines has had the chicken "hacked" into pieces such that a bit of care is always needed to avoid ingesting the shrapnel.

                        1. re: kirinraj

                          I'm half way through this recipe ( actually tweaked a little, including some ideas from other posters...).Didn't cook last night though, and ended up marinating overnight. Hope that won't be a problem. This morning I drained the marinade. Worried it would be too long. This evening i will remake the marinade and start from Step 2.Vinegar "to taste" is something you decide over time, or will the mixture in the recipe tell you if you have it right? I assume it will be concentrated to a glaze by the time you are finished. When you say barely cover with water, I assume you mean add the water to the mixture of chicken and marinade, right? BTW, didn't have honey, but i added some "brown rock candy looking stuff I had from an asian market. Is this going to cause a sticking or burning problem if I add it to the braising liquid? Is a nonstick pan or a stick resistant (Calphalon one pan) appropriate here? Also, is overcooking the white meat an issue here? I HATE overcooked white chicken, but my husband likes it, so whatev....

                          1. re: Shrinkrap

                            1. Better too much vinegar than not enough. It is an essential part of the dish.

                            2. I wouldn't use white meat chicken for this recipe. I would suggest thighs and legs, hacked in two. Breast meat will probably be overcooked and dry.

                            1. re: bkhuna

                              I was starting with a whole chicken, in part because my husband likes white meat. What I did was, brown the white meat ( as suggested in SOME recipes), and put it aside, and cooked the dark meat until the sauce was quite dry, and it cooked in its own oil. (As suggested in other recipes.I was REALLY intrigued by that part!) Then I put the white meat back in, cooked a little longer.... stirred...and it was cooked perfectly. Because husband likes "gray" (not sauce, but GRAVY.his preference...cook the lean meat till dry as "chip" (Jamaican expression) other drown in gravy...) I deglazed the very messy ( mobile that's why you shouldn't stir? Caphalon 1) pan with a rough mix of soy and vinegar and water mixture.... Voila! Gravy! A little salty... more vinegar next time. Gonna have the leftovers right now!

                        2. Yes your recipe sounds nice, I have never used honey, but I've added balsamic vinegar to mine before too. I like dark soy, mushroom soy if I can find it. And I love love jasmine rice, that's my rice of choice with most Asian dishes.

                          You sound like me when I first discovered it, I did the same thing, had to make it just so. I always brown the chicken, even though my Filipino friends said I didn't need to. I just liked the color, and I think it does add to the flavor.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: chef chicklet

                            Do give the honey a try sometime. It makes for an insanely good sauce. I have a 20-lb bag of Jasmine rice in my cupboard and almost always use it unless I'm making something specifically calls for a different kind of rice.

                            1. re: suse

                              I sure will. When my boys were younger, chicken adobo was a regular in my rotation of dinners, we all love it! That sauce is just scrumptious, so I will try the honey, I'm betting it will be good. thanks!

                          2. Adobo is spanish/mexican, and includes frequent use of honey, but every reco here is asian. Has the definition morphed that much? I do fusions, but that's what I call them. Just curious about the word and what it means to others.
                            EDIT: I just did a "Wika" on adobo and see to my surprise that it has leaped across a few oceans and anything goes.

                            38 Replies
                            1. re: Veggo

                              An adobado in Mexico can be a lot of different marinated meat dishes. Chicken - pork adobo, on the other hand, is a long-traditional and well known dish of the Philippines made along the lines discussed above.

                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                I'm cornfused... I see adobo and adobado. In New Mexico I bought pork marinated in chile sauce. I recall it was called adobo. Then there are jalapenos or chipotles in adobo.
                                Where does adobado fit? No red chile powder in any of these recipes?

                                1. re: Scargod

                                  In Spanish, "adobo" is the dish (kind of like "BBQ"). "Adobado" is an adjective describing any seasoned, marinated dishes (like "pollo adobado" or "barbiqued"). Unfortunately, this doesn't always work. "Estofado" for example, refers to both "stew" and is used as an adjective (e.g., "pollo estofado" or "stewed chicken").

                                  1. re: Scargod

                                    Scar, I had to brush up on my Castillian with it's eight lovely verb tenses, but here goes. Any confusion or range of interpretation of adobo or adobado stems from the infinitive "adobar". That is the culprit, because it loosely means to cook or to marinade, but almost neither, because there are better verbs for both. Adobo means cooked, in a loose sense. That is the starting point The gerund (progressive) form and second phase," adobando", means "pickled" , and the preterit form, adobado, means "improved". So, "adobo" improves as it becomes "adobando" and better still on it's way to "adobado", through human effort, not foreign language. But how this comes about has no archive and is undefined.

                                    1. re: Veggo

                                      Veggo, I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Your infinite knowledge has made this clear as mud. To Veggo and Sam, Why isn't this dish called Pollo Adobado if adobado is a higher form of "cooked and vinegared/pickled"?
                                      Does adobo bear any resemblance to me saying "Q" or "BBQ" for barbecued thang? IE, very generic, all encompassing word like "adobo" is dish that has vinegar in it ('cause it aint marinated, that's for shore)?
                                      Pictured is South Carolina "sweet" ribs. I have trouble calling this Q, though it's not bad if you scrape off some of the cloying goo.

                                      1. re: Scargod

                                        Yes, the dish could be called "pollo adobado". "Adobo" refers more to marinade than to pickling.

                                2. re: Veggo

                                  It's not a question of a morphing definition, but of a different one. The adobo being discussed here is a Filipino dish, or cooking technique (because of the Spanish occupation, there are many, many words of Spanish origin in Tagalog and other Filipino languages). Scroll down this link for an explanation of Filipino adobo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pork_adobo

                                  ETA: Composing my post while Sam F posted explanation...

                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                    Yes, the lowland languages of the Philippines are interesting because the borrow words are for things introduced to the Philippines - like "tinidor", "kutsara", and "kutsilyo". But all verbs, adverbs, adjectives and the like are purely indigenous. Except for "puwede" and "para" - although these are not conjugated as all other verbs are in the filipino languages.

                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                      Ya'll are making me less dumb than yesterday....but hungry!

                                      1. re: Veggo

                                        Chowhounds make me less dumb and more hungry than yesterday, every day.

                                    2. re: Veggo

                                      Imagine my excitement and consternation when I, a Filipino raised on vinegar-and-soy adobo, first saw "adobo" on a Mexican menu, and wondered how it got there! Now I find it all very fascinating--how food and the words that describe them travel around the world changing, and being changed. I still haven't gotten around to making a Mexican/South American adobo, but I would love to try, if I could get a good recipe.

                                      Wouldn't an international adobo party be so much fun, not to mention terribly interesting and beyond mouthwatering?

                                      1. re: Veggo

                                        Weighing in on the origins of Adobo... this dish is without any doubt a branch of a medieval Iberian dish... in Portugal its represented by Vinha D'Alhos, in Italy its the Agrodulce technique, and in Spain it goes by various regional names including Mojo, Adobo, Escabeche & Agridulce... then with their colonial relationships the Indian version became Vindaloo, the Pilipino version Adobo, and in Mexico you have quite a few versions of the dish (although not widely translated North of the Border).

                                        What makes the Pilipino version uniquely Pinoy is the extensive use of Soy Sauce and to a second degree the use of local Vinegars (Coconut, Sugar Cane etc.,) I don't pretend to be an expert on the Phillipines to ANY degree but I do know there are some Filipinos who think its special to claim Spanish ancestry.. and then there ethnic groups on the smaller islands who resent any Spanish influences etc., And so I would imagine there are additional non-Spanish spices & herbs that could replace the Bay Leaves and give it a more regional flair.

                                        My family's version (which is called Pollo en Escabeche) uses Pineapple Vinegar that is flavored with Jalapenos, Onion, Garlic, Cloves & Mexican Oregano... in addition to Tequila & piloncillo for the sauce. Then feather cut onions lightly browned in pork fat. The dish is served with one of the common potatoe dish of the Jalisco Highlands... where you parboil medium size potatoes, then sautee them until you get browning & salt.

                                        1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                          Your Pollo en Escabeche sounds amazing, too.

                                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                            Not to get further off topic, but my husband from Jamaica considers Escaviche to be fish fried, and then dressed in onions and vinegar. I always assumed it was related to ceviche. Are these dishes also related by vinegar?

                                            Edit; Found this


                                            Escabeche ('pickled') is a spicy marinade of Spanish origin, used to season and preserve fried (occasionally poached) fish and sometimes poultry. It consists of vinegar or lime juice, onions, peppers and spices. The fish is first fried, then marinated overnight and served cold.

                                            It can be found with similar names in many areas, including North Africa (scabetche), Jamaica (escovitch), France, Belgium, Italy (escabecio or scavece) and South America.

                                            1. re: Shrinkrap

                                              Ceviche refers to the raw "cooked" in citrus. "Escabeche" is essentially cooked stuff quick pickled in vinegar.

                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                Yes, although I guess I was thinking ceviche and "acid", not necessarily citrus.

                                              2. re: Shrinkrap

                                                From an etymology perspective... the Spanish word Escabeche is derived from the Tunisian / Algerian scabetche.

                                                My guess is that ceviche is also derived from scabetche.... Escabeche becoming the popular preparation in North & Central Spain, whereas Ceviche being the more popular preparation in Southern Spain.

                                                And yes most Escabeches start with a Frying or Searing step, although in Mexico it is frequently inverted on particularly tough (large) proteins... for example in the Yucatan where they love their local small turkeys... they might start by cooking it in the liquid raw... until the liquid has evaporated completely and you are left with the rendered fat and concentrated flavors.. at which time you fry until satisfactory browning and visual appeal.

                                              3. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                I have to disagree with your evolutionary history of adobo. The early Filipino natives had a long history of preserving their food in vinegar. The proto-adobo of pork cooked in vinegar, pepper and garlic. in fact, pre-dated the Spanish settlement by hundreds of years. Meat cooked adobo-style would be kept in a vessel sealed from the elements by a layer of rendered pork fat, which also doubled as the cooking fat to heat the meat. The minor Spanish contribution to the dish was merely a name and the odd bay leaf thrown in for Iberian flair and flavor.

                                                For hundreds of years this was the adobo loved throughout the Philippines with regional variations such as the addition of coconut milk, onions, chilies or other spices. After World War II, the occupying Japanese left their own mark on the dish: a touch of shoyu that spread throughout most of the Archipelago and now often constitutes as much as half of the cooking liquid for the stew. Ask an older Filipino about soy sauce in adobo and you might get some fist-shaking and lamentation about where the younger Filipinos went wrong. Filipino tastes have also skewed towards sweeter foods in the past 50 years, hence the common addition of some sugar to the cooking liquid.

                                                1. re: JungMann

                                                  That sounds more than plausible. (And nicely written, too!) Cooking in vinegar seems to be nearly universal--not the monopoly of one or two cuisines. Perhaps kilawin, which is nearly identical to ceviche, is really the precursor of our adobo?

                                                  As for the addition of soy sauce, wouldn't it be more likely due to the Filipino Chinese than the Japanese Occupation forces? Or perhaps the pre-war Japanese immigrants? In any event, you are absolutely and regrettably correct about Filipino tastes skewing sweet: some people think that all Filipinos make sweet spaghetti (gag)!

                                                  1. re: pilinut

                                                    I think of kilawin as separate from the paksiw-adobo spectrum of cooking in that kilawin is a cooking process via vinegar whereas paksiw and adobo are a preservative method for cooked foods. The flavors can be somewhat similar, though I don't know how good a week-old piece of kilawing kambing would taste!

                                                    I would think that soy sauce and Chinese settlers would be the obvious connection, however the proliferation of soy sauce adobo recipes seems to coincide with the Japanese Occupation as various older Tagalogs can attest (among whom, Marketman Manila). I find that shoyu blends much more effortlessly into adobo than regular Chinese soy sauce (or even Filipino brands), so perhaps the introduction of milder shoyus is what popularized the contemporary dark recipe.

                                                    1. re: JungMann

                                                      I kind of doubt the diffusion of Japanese foods into filipino. The Japanese weren't there all that long; and it wasn't a relationship of cross-cultural brotherly love.

                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                        Despite the lack of comity, Filipinos have never shied from adopting aspects of invading cultures. Just witness the country's cuisine, system of government and even its slang. And while short, the experience of World War II was enough time to entrench modern Filipino staples like corned beef and fruit salad. Meanwhile Americans, who were also harrowed by the experience of wartime rationing, seem to have moved beyond canned cheese and Spam.

                                                        So while the Japanese occupation was admittedly bitter and short, I think the explanation I have heard from wartime Manilans about the origin of soy sauce in adobo might hold water. And even if these are the cloudy remembrances of the elderly, we still know that soy sauce in adobo remains a relatively new addition, popularized especially after WWII.

                                                        1. re: JungMann

                                                          "Meanwhile Americans, who were also harrowed by the experience of wartime rationing, seem to have moved beyond canned cheese and Spam."

                                                          Not in Hawaii!

                                                    2. re: pilinut

                                                      But you couldn't have any kids' birthday parties without spaghetti with a sweetened ketchup sauce!

                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                        Help me out, guys, before I embarrass myself in front of my in-laws. Is kilawin the same thing as kinilaw? I know kinilaw as the dish that is like ceviche, but I looked up "kilawin" and found a dish with ground goat meat, lime and chili peppers.

                                                        1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                                                          Good question. "Kinilaw" and "kilawin" are somewhat interchangeable. Both feature either "cooking" in vinegar as is the case for fish ( a la ceviche); or cooking conventionally and then flavoring and preserving in vinegar as is the case for goat meat or pig skin.

                                                          1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                                                            Kilawin and kinilaw are interchangeable terms, though kilawin is more often used for meat (e.g. kilawing kambing) than it is for seafood. You will find that there are folks, mostly city dwellers, who might not be familiar with fish kinilaw if they lived in-land, though they might be familiar with cured goat or pig entrails as kilawin.

                                                            1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                                                              There are 3 major versions of Filipino language (Illocano, Tagalog, and Visayan - moving from north to south, Tagalog being "Official" as that is the region where Manilla is.) But there are dozens if not hundreds of either variations of those three or almost separate languages as well. Lots of shared words, lots of words adopted and/or adapted from Spanish and English, as well as some Chinese and (gasp) Japanese origins as well.

                                                              It can make following a recipe a very interesting experience. On top of that the same dish can vary tremendously from region to region. In general as you move from north to south, the food gets "wetter" and the spices and seasonings change according to what grows locally.

                                                            2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                              Horrors! Thank goodness my Manila childhood was not blighted with kechup. Then again, I did have an aunt who once served us deep-fried peanut butter lumpia. Four decades on I still choke reflexively at the recollection.

                                                              1. re: pilinut

                                                                My mother was very partial to the local Chinese takeaway whose secret ingredient in egg rolls was a tablespoon of peanut butter sauteed with the filling. (Her attempts at re-creating the flavor were less than stellar.) And I have to admit to using ketchup as a preferred sawsawan for Asian and Western food alike. What other condiment could so well marry with embutido and spaghetti alike?!

                                                          2. re: JungMann

                                                            This is interesting re: the possible Japanese connection to using soy sauce; it could potentially explain another aspect of my mother-in-law's rendition that I've always found surprising: a splash of mirin at the end. I always figured that something like this could have been traditional (or at least around for a while; maybe similar to Chinese 'three cup' chicken?), but it could also be a purely modern addition!

                                                            The 'vinegar only' version also seems to still be the standard for other adobo's, like adobong pusit (squid). (In fact, it's kind of hard to imagine soy sauce in that, since the squid ink already provides the dark rich quality.) In fact, I've never really thought about how chili peppers seem (to me) intrinsically necessary in adobong pusit, but would be totally out of place in adobong manok. There must be many different variants and aesthetics for things like this :)

                                                            1. re: another_adam

                                                              it is important to remember that Chinese were trading with the Philipines for hundreds of years before the Spanish stumbled upon them in the 1500's

                                                            2. re: JungMann

                                                              i dont think that shoyu was a japanese influence, because my family immigrated to hawaii in 1918 from ilocos norte, and their adobo recipecontains it (but only a small quantity). i think its an older chinese influence

                                                              1. re: kirinraj

                                                                Maybe it was somebodies inexpensive way to mimick the effect of Squid Ink and it caught on?

                                                                1. re: kirinraj

                                                                  Hawaii also acts as its own melting pot blending various foreign cultures in amalgamation. There could have been a Japanese influence on your family's cooking independent of the wartime Occupation.

                                                                2. re: JungMann

                                                                  Thanks, JungMann, for setting it straight about soy sauce. Yes, my father and his father shook their fists at soy sauce in adobo! My family is Aklanon and our version uses garlic, white vinegar, bay leaf, salt, and atsuete (annato) for red color (or paprika). Never onion, never soy sauce. My father maintained that soy sauce was Chinese and does not have a place in true, indigenous adobo. The eminent Filipina food historian Doreen Fernandez (see her collection of essays, TIKIM) also maintains that soy sauce came to be added to adobo by lazy cooks at carinderias and Filipino fast food joints (turo-turos) to shortcut to the brownness that will result if adobo is given its due time.

                                                            3. Try mixing in chicken livers to the sauce in the end to make the sauce richer, the idea is to balance the richness of the river and the protein with the acidity of the vinegar braising liquid.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: jecolicious

                                                                I love chicken livers in my adobo--some left whole, the others crushed into the sauce!

                                                                1. re: pilinut

                                                                  It's funny to me to read this, when (on our road trip), for the first time in my life, I came across very evenly ground chicken liver atop rice in South Carolina. Also on the plate was boiled okra and collards.

                                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                                    scargod, was that a "soul food" place?

                                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                                      That was Woodstone BBQ and seafood, in Florence, SC. They had an unbelievable lunch buffet of just plain ol' southern food, whatever you want to call it. Yes, there were blacks there; it was about 50-50. Kind of an average cafe kind of place with very good food.

                                                              2. Sounds like you have a good base there, but I would certainly increase the quantity of vinegar, and tweak the proportions of garlic and soysauce.

                                                                4 - 5 lbs chicken
                                                                1 cup vinegar
                                                                1 small-medium head garlic, peeled and crushed
                                                                1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
                                                                2 teaspoons coarse salt
                                                                5 bayleaves
                                                                1/4 - 1/2 cup soysauce, to taste, added after the chicken has cooked at least 30 minutes

                                                                Onion, patis (fish sauce), chicken livers, and/or a bit of sugar are all kosher (in a manner of speaking.) But I'll try your honey next time--I have an interesting honey with a pineapple-y character in my pantry.

                                                                Note on vinegar: There is a lot of variation in vinegars, but this is a very forgiving dish, so as long as you don't use something very harsh, you should be okay. Some of my fellow Filipinos swear by palm vinegar, others by coconut or rice vinegars. One aunt uses only apple cider vinegar! And Amy Besa, who wrote that excellent "Memories of Philippine Kitchens," uses Japanese rice vinegar. Using the higher proportion of vinegar will make the dish taste a bit harsh right after cooking, but the adobo will have mellowed nicely and deepened in flavor by the next day. Because of the vinegar, the adobo will keep over a week in the fridge. Oh, and the thing about not stirring vinegar until after it boils--I've heard that, too, but I can't see that stirring (or not) makes any difference.

                                                                Keep experimenting--adobo is a fun dish to play around with, isn't it?

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: pilinut

                                                                  It IS fun. Your version is interesting. I'll have to up the vinegar next time to see how that works. I know a lot of recipes don't use onions - lots of garlic being more common - but the sauce is so very good that it's hard for me to think about leaving them out. Still, I'll try your way at some point. I use plain white vinegar. Read somewhere not to use anything too fancy if you don't have the palm vinegar. You mention the harsh flavor - I wonder how the addition of honey will affect that. Let me know what you think.

                                                                2. and don't forget pork adobo too

                                                                  1. I was fortunate to be a member of the Navy Hospital Corps, a rating that includes a large number of Filipinos. Pot lucks were always a great affair with a mixture of foods from many cultures.

                                                                    I recall one variation of adobo that showed up frequently had both chicken AND pork. That is the way I make it at home.

                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                    1. re: bkhuna

                                                                      Chicken - pork adobo is the most common in the Philippines.

                                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                        What kind of pork would you add? And how long is it cooked with pork? Same amount of time?

                                                                        1. re: suse

                                                                          Anything reasonable tender. Cut into bite sized pieces and cook for the same time as the chicken.

                                                                          1. re: suse

                                                                            I like using pork butt because it's cheap, fatty and flavorful.

                                                                      2. My recipe comes from an ex who was Filipino, who used her nanny's recipe. It called for equal parts white vinegar to dark soy, at least 10 minced garlic cloves, a handful of whole black pepper corns, and bay leaves. I always did 1 cup of vinegar, I cup of soy, and then added a liberal "extra" dose of vinegar because I happen to like it to have more of that flavor. The key to my recipe was that everything is best if marinated for at least 24 hours. No precooking of the chicken was required.

                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                        1. re: jillyju

                                                                          Was the recipe from her nanny or from her nanay (mother)?

                                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                            Hi Sam, it was her nanny, not her nanay.

                                                                            1. re: jillyju

                                                                              Funny, IMNSHO if anyone has and is well off enough to have a nanny, the recipes will be better from the nanny than from the nanay. I really agree with (but had forgotten to mention) your marinade of at least 24 hours!

                                                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                Is that if you use old hen or rooster?

                                                                          2. re: jillyju

                                                                            That sounds like the classic Tagalog (southern Luzon, around Manila) recipe I used when I first learned to make adobo. Like you--and 90% of the people who make adobo--it became a jumping-off point, I also prefer a higher proportion of vinegar to soy, and sometimes I leave out the soy completely,

                                                                          3. Did chow decide to reawaken this old file based on our discussion, or did this discussion come about based on this old file?


                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                              Neither. It was my obsession and desire to chat with people about it in present time.

                                                                            2. My family is Ilocano and we swear by the use of sugar cane vinegar, which has a 4% acidity vs. 5%, which has more mellow tang as an end result.

                                                                              My Nanay used shallots in everything she cooked instead of onions, as she claimed it grew wild and abundantly in Ilocos and Pangasinan. Shallots do have less sulfur than an onion and contributes to the "sweetness" in the reduced sauce. One huge onion sounds like a lot, and if you're not cooking it down for a long time (which I'm assuming no cause that would kill the chicken) then the pervasive flavor is onion, but it really should be the garlic standing out.

                                                                              Replace your vinegar to soy to a ratio of 1 to 1, +2 parts water. Instead of onion use 2 med. shallots. If the honey works for you, great, but I use table sugar. I keep the lid ajar and the heat at med/high. The sauce should be thick and sticky and the shallots and garlic completely disintegrated from cooking down.

                                                                              I mostly cook pork adobo and I use pork belly, pork butt, Spareribs, rib tips (my fav!) or a combination of pork and chicken.


                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Veggietales

                                                                                The onion is actually very good and 50 minutes of cooking in soy and vinegar certainly cooks it down just fine. However, since I had never had chicken adobo before making it myself, I don't really know what it's supposed to taste like. I do get the sense that it should have a more predominant garlic flavor, so I'm definitely going to try your shallot recommendation. The honey does give it a certain flavor and I'm sure your dish tastes completely different without it. I'll definitely try this version, especially with pork. Thanks for all the tips about the meat cuts.

                                                                                1. re: Veggietales

                                                                                  Your recipes are more consistent with what I grew up eating. Mom was Visayan and dad came from the Mountain Province, so the Ilocano dishes were part of the family cuisine in our Manila home. I like to think I had the best of many regional Filipino dishes. Pork adobo is my favorite and the ingredients which were consistently in the different variations were cane vinegar, soy sauce, bay leaves, garlic and whole peppercorn. The rest is fine-tuning to individual preferences. Over the years I have also learned that fat is flavor. Good adobo includes the fattier cuts of meat or chicken.

                                                                                  1. re: Veggietales

                                                                                    I just wanted to add this link to an article about Filipino vinegars. The choice of vinegars adds a new range to the adobo taste. For Filipino nuts, reading Burnt Lumpia can get your cooking frenzy going.


                                                                                  2. First of all, I want to thank everyone for feeding my obsession with all of these interesting and informative posts. This has been loads of fun. Secondly, I want to recount a "food is life" story from yesterday:
                                                                                    I have a good friend whose elderly mom is in hospice care at his home. My friend just got out of the hospital himself and has had family members visiting from out of town to help take care of his dying mother. The obvious thing for me to do is to cook, right? So yesterday I headed over to his house with a big pot of chicken adobo. My friend took me in to his mom's room for a brief visit. As she is rather hard of hearing, my friend bellowed "mom, Susanna has brought us some more food!" I mentioned that it was a chicken dish and my friend screamed "It's a Filipino dish!!!" HIs mom looked at me, smiled and said "oh, adobo." It turns out her best friend from back in the day was from the Phillipines and used to make this dish for her all the time and she started reminiscing about all the other lovely dishes her friend would make for her. She pointed to a picture of her friend on the wall by her bed. I don't think I've ever hoped that someone would like my food as much as I did yesterday.

                                                                                    17 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: suse

                                                                                      I can't imagine that your friend's mom would not have enjoyed your adobo, even if it didn't taste exactly like her friend's. (The mere fact that it brought back happy memories at a painful time would have been a priceless gift in itself.) And in all my decades of eating adobo at the homes of friends and at restaurants, only once or twice have I tasted adobo that tasted ALMOST like it could have been cooked at my home--and we use a pretty "classic" recipe. Adobo can be recognizably adobo and still have your name written all over it!

                                                                                      BTW, if and when you try making a pork or pork-and-chicken adobo, do use pork with a fair amount of fat--like another poster mentioned, pork butt, belly, or ribs are good choices. You can always skim the excess fat off later on, or use it to help preserve the adobo. Or better yet, once the liquid has evaporated (and been absorbed into the meat), you can keep cooking until the meat falls apart and fries to a crisp in its own fat. (Sounds disgusting, but it is so good.)

                                                                                      And no good adobo goes to waste: you can stretch the leftovers into "adobo rice" by simply reheating the remains of the meat and sauce, adding leftover steamed rice, and cooking until the rice is hot and has absorbed the sauce.

                                                                                        1. re: pilinut

                                                                                          pilinut, you wrote "once the liquid has evaporated (and been absorbed into the meat), you can keep cooking until the meat falls apart and fries to a crisp in its own fat."

                                                                                          isn't that technique similar for making carnitas?

                                                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                                                            The technique is similar, but carnitas are low and slow, as they say. Adobo is hot to trot, meaning you can reduce the liquid over a high flame until it is mostly grease and use that to fry over a medium flame. That said, I don't like that technique because it has a tendency to scorch and doesn't leave any sauce (sabaw) to drizzle onto your plate or to use for adobo rice or even adobo longaniza. I reduce my liquid until thickened, but I fry or broil the meat (and garlic) separately.

                                                                                            1. re: JungMann

                                                                                              Ah! I ended up making a second batch of sauce, and using it to deglaze the pan.

                                                                                            2. re: alkapal

                                                                                              I've enjoyed, but never made, carnitas, so I can't compare techniques. I should probably mention a couple of things:

                                                                                              I prefer my adobo with some sauce--it's tastier, and as JungMann indicated, more versatile that way.

                                                                                              Some people like the cooked-to-a-crisp version, which can be trickier to make in a pan because it can burn or stick to the bottom. I make the crisp adobo only when leftovers have been cooked until they look more like rillettes than pieces of meat, and then I bake them, spread out on a shallow pan, at 275F until lightly crisp. Then they're great sprinkled very generously on eggs, rice--almost anything you'd use bacon bits on.

                                                                                              1. re: pilinut

                                                                                                Pilinut, your rilettes na adobo sound terrific and like something I would like to try. To clarify, when you get to the dregs of the adobo (sauce, peppercorn, meat bits, garlic), you bake the entire thing until the liquid evaporates and you are left with crisp solids? Or is there something I'm missing?

                                                                                                1. re: JungMann

                                                                                                  I have to confess that I don't set out to make adobo "rillettes", but that's how they turn out because my mother taught me that you can never cook too much adobo, and the longer you keep the leftovers and reheat them, the better. Well, those leftovers, reheated several times, start to fall apart in the reheating, and I pick out the bones. A bit of stirring to keep the mixture from scorching and to distribute the dregs of "sarsa", and I have all this shredded adobo simmering away in its own fat, getting tastier as it gets uglier, and the meat shreds absorbing virtually all the sauce. (By this time, the garlic will have melted into the adobo hash, and since I have no problem eating the occasional peppercorn, I leave those in, too.) I keep enough fat from the pork and/or chicken (or I add good olive oil) to cover the top of this mess. The adobo "rillettes," will keep, covered in fat, for weeks in the fridge, and can be spread out on a sheet--thinly, if I fell like having them crisper--and baked.

                                                                                                  1. re: pilinut

                                                                                                    That's the term I was racking my memory for - "sarsa" - sauce. Thanks, I knew "sabaw" was close but it was more descriptive of soup or broth.

                                                                                                    I love the second and third days after cooking adobo. That's when flavors get really good, when you reheat and get that sarsa reduced to a glaze.

                                                                                                    1. re: pilinut

                                                                                                      How many peppercorns do you throw in there? The first time I made it I used peppercorns, but it was just too hard to eat, so now I grind the pepper even though I think the peppercorns impart a better flavor. Maybe I used too many?

                                                                                                      1. re: suse

                                                                                                        I put in around 1 Tablespoon of whole peppercorns for 4-5 lbs of meat, but you could try cracking them and using half as much peppercorns.

                                                                                                      2. re: pilinut

                                                                                                        So I take it that you re-heat the entire pot of adobo and not just portions?

                                                                                                        I made a large batch of adobo over the weekend, inspired to try some new variations based on this thread. The onions are an okay addition to the sauce, though they don't really set off any fireworks for me. While I know I recommend frying the meat in its rendered fat, my desire to make it to middle age without a triple bypass means that I usually skim the fat off the adobo and rely on the broiler to crisp the meat. Not so this time. Frying in the adobo fat adds so much more flavor and fills the kitchen with the heavy aroma of rustic cooking. I loved it so much I also used it to sauté spinach and oyster sauce for a perfect side. Rilettes will be the next step, to be tested on homemade pandesal.

                                                                                                        1. re: JungMann

                                                                                                          Sometimes, I reheat just part of the batch, sometimes all. It depends on how much I think I need--and then I add 50% more. It will all work out: never had to throw away any adobo!

                                                                                                2. re: pilinut

                                                                                                  thats my preferred way of making adobo. i love the crispiness of the chicken, and the browned flavor (especially since i dont brown it beforehand). I dont find the saucey version as appealing. And a wet side dish(es) such as pinakbet takes care of the problem of it being too dry with rice.

                                                                                                  1. re: kirinraj

                                                                                                    Are you Ilocano? It seems that Ilocanos prefer to cook their stews until dry whereas Tagalogs leave behind plenty of sabaw.

                                                                                                    1. re: JungMann

                                                                                                      yep, my grandma's parents were from ilocos norte. i think it had to do with food preservation, because dryer, more vinegary foods keep longer

                                                                                                  2. re: pilinut

                                                                                                    And it makes a killer chicken salad; just cut up pieces and add chopped onion, mayo, and a splash of the sauce.

                                                                                                3. i just saw "daisy cooks!" doing her recipe for butterflied "barbecued" chicken cooked under a brick. it looked delicious. her adobo -- serving as a marinade -- used apple cider vinegar (i think, but she *said* red cider vinegar), and didn't have honey. she didn't chop the garlic, just somewhat crushed the cloves, about five to a marinade baggie, along with two big fresh bay leaves, big onion slices... and i can't recall other ingredients -- maybe some lime or orange juice?

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                    You are correct the marinade is an Adobo... but I think we are talking quite a different technique. In the... Vinha D'Alohs, Vindaloo, Escabeche, Agrodulce, F Adobo dishes... the technique is wet cooking, with the vinager helping to break down tissues & yield tenderness & the natural gelatines in the chicken.... which is why the dish is traditionally made with dark meat & tough cuts of pork.

                                                                                                    Incidentally... this type of dish has traditionally been made with gamey, slightly tough, free range beasts... in fact the whole technique is designed around that... so you will serve yourself well by steering clear of mediocre, tasteless, greasy CAFO chicken.

                                                                                                  2. Our version is also more like equal parts vinegar (cane!!) and soy, with a little more soy added during the final "frying" phase with a sprinkle of sugar. My mother-in-law also swears by the not-stirring thing-- she claims that if you stir, the vinegar doesn't get "cooked". (I assume this means that the idea is to concentrate the vinegar by letting it evaporate more? I've never really understood it, myself, but she claims it's crucial, so I just go with it!)

                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: another_adam

                                                                                                      Interesting. I just read the following on a blog:
                                                                                                      "When the meat has been browned, add the vinegar, don’t stir until it has released its acidic odor. " This makes some sense. When I read "don't stir" I think "what? forever? that seems odd...."

                                                                                                      1. re: another_adam

                                                                                                        Just one more: "My dad always told me not to touch the meat while it’s simmering until the vinegar is “cooked.” Vinegar? Cooked? I didn’t get it either. But if you smell the adobo just as it begins to simmer, you’ll notice this acrid, sharp, sensation in the nose and a vinegary aroma. As the adobo continues to simmer, this aroma begins to mellow. Then – and only then – can you even begin to touch it."

                                                                                                        1. re: suse

                                                                                                          Yeah, it's a mystery to me to! The description is right on, though-- it must just be getting the vinegar to evaporate. I just go along with it, since the results are great and I can't think of any reason why I'd want or need to stir it when adding the vinegar, either! (Just force of habit...)

                                                                                                      2. I've also become obssessed with chicken adobo, having never heard of it until arriving in Cebu a couple of weeks ago. I was so impressed by the version served by the pension I'm staying at that I decided to search the web for recipes. Of the ca 100,000 sites, this has to be the best (well, of the dozen or so I checked). Thank you all for the wonderful education on Philippines/Spanish/Mexican cooking. Fuente Pension's version uses bay leaves, small onions, garlic, star anise and black peppercorns; I can't tell what kind of vinegar (must ask), and moderate amount of soy (it doesn't overpower). Other great discoveries have been ube piaya and masareal.

                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: Cossomby

                                                                                                          Since you didn't include Cebuano lechon and chicharon (particularly the one from Carcar) among your great discoveries, you still have a lot to look forward to! If you're not familiar with them yet, check out the Chowhound Greater Asia Board (though there's not much on Cebu) and look through these blogs and you'll find your way to other things at least as good as adobo:


                                                                                                          Enjoy your trip!

                                                                                                          1. re: pilinut

                                                                                                            I have tasted lechon dishes- great. But alas I have a real problem in truly appreciating Filipino cuisine. I have Meniere's Disease, which has to be managed by a low salt diet. This is difficult to handle anywhere, especially when you're in hotels and can't cook for yourself, but salt is in almost all Filipino food. For instance, dried mango, a local specialty., has a salt level way above my limit. When I was invited to dinner here, I asked if some of the food could be low salt or salt free; the host told me that when he passed this onto his cook, the reply was 'It is impossible to cook without salt!!'. So I've been enjoying the fresh fruit - mangos, wow; and masareal and ube pyala are salt free; grilled fish is fine. But the chicken adobo is so good that I've broken all the rules - though it's like playing Russian Roulette. (Another find: calamansi and honey cordial/syrup; currently enjoying Palawan honey).

                                                                                                            1. re: Cossomby

                                                                                                              That is tough: Filipino food does often have high levels of sodium (fish sauce, salt, soy sauce are all important seasonings) which supposedly accounts for the high incidence of kidney disease.

                                                                                                              If it's any consolation, some people say that a REAL adobo should contain no soy sauce, and that the browning should come from frying or simply cooking down the adobo until it "carmelizes" on its own.

                                                                                                              Good luck with your trip, keep well, and mabuhay!

                                                                                                              1. re: pilinut

                                                                                                                Your Adobo without the Soy sauce is no longer a Filipino dish but the Spanish version... imho, less interesting.

                                                                                                                Although an interesting experiment could be to blend a dark chile like Pasilla which has woodsy, tobacco, burnt rubber notes somewhat similar to good soy sauce.... and blend up with soy sauce as a way to stretch the sodium...

                                                                                                                1. re: pilinut

                                                                                                                  The high salt amounts are probably due to the fact that the average temperature in the Philippines is 98 degrees with a humidity level of 102. (I left there almost 35 years ago and to this day, if the temp drops below 72, I grab a sweater and put on socks). Anyway, the point is that you do nothing but sweat, so you need a high intake of sodium. Oh, yes, and since lots of folk do not have easy access to refrigeration, the salt is useful in preservation of the foods.
                                                                                                                  Condolences on your trouble with the dishes, but do enjoy all the WONDERFUL fruits and veggies!

                                                                                                                  1. re: Michelly

                                                                                                                    Para sa akin hindi totoo ganyan. When I lived in the Philippines and worked in rice (and in rice fields, the hottest most humid place in the world) all over south and SE Asia, I always maintained a low salt diet, drank LOTS of water, and sweated more than anyone else in the field. But more than normal cooking salt is not needed.

                                                                                                                  2. re: pilinut

                                                                                                                    Bear in mind that in the Philippines, the average temp is 98 degrees with a humidity of 104. This basically means that you sweat like a pig (none of us had ANY clothing with long sleeves), and constantly needed to replenish your body salt.

                                                                                                            2. Chicken and/or pork adobo, in my opinion, is like beef stew in that every family has their version, some with tweaks on the "basic" recipe (like the use of anise, which in all my childhood there, I'd never heard of).
                                                                                                              But the combination of garlic and vinegar is indicative of Filipino cuisine, as is the heavy use of sodium- salt and soy sauce. Both salt and vinegar are preservatives, and remember, we're talking about a country with an average temperature of 98 degrees, with 102 humidity. As a kid there, I used to put an ice cube on the table, pull up a chair, and watch the ice melt in minutes.
                                                                                                              My family's recipe is basically that of Pilinut's, using pork and chicken (although for my Jewish friends, I've done all chicken)

                                                                                                              1 lb stewing pork, cubed
                                                                                                              1 1/2 lb chicken pieces
                                                                                                              1 c soy sauce
                                                                                                              2 bay leaves
                                                                                                              1 T peppercorns or 2 t cracked black pepper
                                                                                                              3 - 4 HEADS garlic, crushed
                                                                                                              1/2 c white vinegar
                                                                                                              4 c warm water

                                                                                                              Brown the meat in a little cooking oil. Transfer to a large pot with the remaining ingredients and let stand, covered, for 30 minutes.
                                                                                                              Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour or until meat is all cooked.

                                                                                                              This is best made the day before serving (just reheat) and makes KILLER chicken salad.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: Michelly

                                                                                                                Ooops, sorry, I replied to my own reply with practically the same info. Djahe ko!

                                                                                                              2. just a question relating to the high sodium content of filipino food:
                                                                                                                isn't the high level of salt good not only for food preservation, but for replenishing the body's chemical balance after profuse sweating? (like taking salt tablets in the tropics)

                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                  Absolutely. I've seen race car drivers with dark suits have salt rings on their clothing after they sweated for an hour in a car after having consumed salt tablets.
                                                                                                                  I can't fix a dish like this for SO without doing something to reduce the sodium to a sensible level. We don't sweat that much!

                                                                                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                                    i've had salt rings on my back, typically after mowing the yard. maybe i'm just a sweater! (does "sweatin' like a hog" even make sense? ;-) from wiki: "Sweating like a Pig" to denote sweating profusely. This sounds illogical, as pigs have ineffective sweat glands but the term is derived from the iron smelting process. After pouring into runners in sand it is allowed to cool and is seen as resembling a sow and piglets - Hence 'Pig Iron'. As the pigs cool the surrounding air reaches its' DEW POINT and beads of moisture form on the surface of the pigs. Sweating like a pig indicates that the pig has cooled enough to be moved in safety." ah, that's a better mental image, now isn't it?

                                                                                                                    salt tablets -- do they make you retain water?

                                                                                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                      Good question. I've never had to take them. I suppose if you were in a climate where you didn't sweat constantly, they would. But in the Philippines, I remember reading Archie comics and upon seeing the characters in long-sleeved shirts, thought they were nuts. You simply don't wear long sleeves in a country that has only two seasons: Hot and Typhoon.

                                                                                                                2. A couple of weeks ago I did an adobo pulled pork that came out very nicely. I haven't had anything like this before or seen it in a book, but I thought it would be a good combination.

                                                                                                                  I took a whole pork shoulder and scored the fat, and braised it on the stovetop as for adobo with coconut vinegar, soy sauce, patis, garlic, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and a couple of chiles, an hour on one side, then an hour on the other side, and then I took the top off the pot and transferred it to the oven to cook at about 200 deg. f for another three or four hours, basting periodically with the sabaw and turning it once or twice. About an hour before it was done, I sliced off the skin, chopped it roughly, and put it on a separate pan to crisp up. When it was done, I pulled the meat off the bone with two forks and let it sit in the sabaw, then back in the oven at 350 deg F to form a crust on top. This was really good served with the cracklings as a garnish.

                                                                                                                  We had plenty of leftover, so I heated it a few more times, removing the chilled fat first, at 350 F to reduce the sabaw some more and form a new crust on top, and by the third reheating, it was really incredible. I don't know if this is exactly authentic, but it's across between adobo and lechon, and it's really tasty.

                                                                                                                  20 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                                                                                                                    That sounds brilliant! I'm salivating, despite having just had lunch, plus a bag of chicharrones, and a large chunk of chocolate. Now I'm wondering if I can prepare the pork shoulder like you did, then get DH to cook it, partially covered, in his smoker. The trick may be getting the right combination of adobo and smoke flavor.

                                                                                                                    1. re: pilinut

                                                                                                                      Now that would be awesome. Alas, NYC apartment living makes smoking a bit impractical.

                                                                                                                    2. re: David A. Goldfarb

                                                                                                                      Oh my goodness...I think I just drooled on my keyboard.

                                                                                                                      1. re: IndigoOnTheGo

                                                                                                                        Okay, if that's two thumbs up and no one is completely offended, I think I'll try it on Filipino guests this Sunday.

                                                                                                                        1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                                                                                                                          We had Romy Dorotan, Amy Besa and another friend who grew up in Manila over last night, and they went back for seconds, so I'd call it a success. Before tasting it, Romy asked if it was ropa vieja, which I hadn't thought about, but that's a dish that I like, and it does resemble it.

                                                                                                                          I also made achara using the recipe in their book, _Memories of Philippine Kitchens_, but substituting cane vinegar for rice vinegar and making it a bit spicier than they served it at Cendrillon, and Amy approved.

                                                                                                                          They said that delays with construction and permits have been holding up the opening of their new restaurant in Brooklyn, which will be called Purple Yam, but they hope to be up and running by July, or at the latest, August 8, which was when Cendrillon opened. Amy posted an update recently at www.cendrillon.com

                                                                                                                          1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                                                                                                                            Now THAT is a gold stamp of approval - were you nervous?

                                                                                                                            1. re: fresnohotspot

                                                                                                                              Well, the other night when Tony and Gordon dropped by for a bite ...

                                                                                                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                I met Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan at an event at NYU a couple years ago. Amy was an especially warm and friendly person to talk to and got me connected with the Filipino student group to stay in touch. I've since lost contact, but I'm sure she would be a very easy person to enjoy a dinner with.

                                                                                                                                1. re: JungMann

                                                                                                                                  I was a little nervous, since this was the first time we've had them over to our apartment, but they're both completely easygoing, and we've known them for years now. After we'd been to the restaurant a few times, we asked Romy to make his chocolate macadamia nut sansrival for our wedding in 1999, and since then we've been regulars. Amy said they don't get many invitations to home cooked meals, perhaps because people are intimidated or maybe just because the schedule of running a restaurant hasn't really allowed it, but while they're waiting for the new restaurant to open, they're a little more flexible.

                                                                                                                                  I've cooked for them a couple of times before with our other friend who was over last night. Our friend suggested having them over for dinner, but it was difficult to arrange while they were running the restaurant, so Romy suggested that we just all make a private dinner at Cendrillon on a night they would normally be closed, and we did that twice during the last two years they were open in SoHo. That was a little more pressured, since it wasn't my kitchen, and there were other guests, but Romy always helped us find what we needed and sort out issues with things like their really high powered commercial stove.

                                                                                                                            2. re: David A. Goldfarb

                                                                                                                              The "six degrees of separation" theory is more accurately one or two when it comes to Filipinos. I had met Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan when they came to the Bay Area a couple of years ago and then found out that they are close friends of several people I know. They are terrific: gifted, literate, warm people who happen to cook brilliantly. Romy's food is not always traditional--something for which his cooking ha been criticized by some Filipinos--but I thought it had great integrity and was true to its Filipino roots, not to mention delicious, I would love to try an "evolved" version of adobo by Romy, and wonder what it would be like.

                                                                                                                              1. re: pilinut

                                                                                                                                Yes, regarding the two degrees of separation, after we got to know Amy and Romy, it transpired that my wife's family knew Amy's relatives in Hawai'i, and Amy's mother had been my wife's mother's professor in medical school, and then it turned out that a journalist that I know had rented an apartment from them some years ago.

                                                                                                                                They're very aware that their food doesn't always appeal to Filipinos. They use less salt and less garlic, more fresh vegetables, and they don't cook them as much. They also like using more natural ingredients like heirloom rices, heritage pork and beef, and avoid processed foods that have become Filipino staples like condensed milk and powdered milk (which my wife loves).

                                                                                                                                The chicken adobo that I've had in the restaurant. The chicken is tender but intact, and the flavor is nicely concentrated. I haven't asked him, and it's probably in the book, but my sense is that he probably removes the chicken when it's done, reduces the sabaw, and puts the chicken back in, and then finishes it under a broiler.

                                                                                                                                1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                                                                                                                                  Which rices is Romy working with?

                                                                                                                                  Just a tiny rant: "Heirloom" is a reasonable concept for Americans who have had to rely on very few varieties of grains, fruit, and vegetables. But they don't realize the wealth of bio-diversity still out there. There are more than 80,000 rice varietes and landraces in the genebank at the International Rice Research Institute located in the Philippines. Small farmers around the globe continue to grow thousands of traditional rice varieties. Filipinos largely do eat, however, IR 64 / IR72 type rices; while a few seek out the traditional varieties grown in Mountain Province and Banawe. I also cannot see how one rice is more "natural" than another.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                    Sorry I don't recall the names, but you could e-mail Amy to get the details (check www.cendrillon.com for contact info). They were importing traditional varieties grown in rice terraces in the Philippines. As I recall, some were quite expensive, and the plain rice they generally served was probably something more common, but they were trying to use the special rices in certain dishes when they could get them.

                                                                                                                                    They made a black rice paella, but I don't know offhand what their source was for the black rice. It was always on the menu, so that may have been from the US.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                                                                                                                                      Yes those rices from the Banawe and Mountain Province terraces are traditionals and better than the IRRI varieties. Farmers in Iloilo, however, have a trick. Consumers seeking traditional rices pay a premium for red rices. Farmers just selected seed from red off-types of IR72 and sold it as a traditional - although it was IR72 all the way.

                                                                                                                                      Next time you cook for them, how about sinigang ng kanduli, dinaguan, kare kare, and maybe bulalo?

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                        I'm sure Amy would be delighted to talk rice with you, particularly if it helps them source real traditional varieties. Seriously, send her a note.

                                                                                                                                        I've made sinigang with local fish and have had kare kare. Haven't had bulalo and will confess a certain squeamishness about dinuguan (which even my wife's grandmother doesn't make), but when Amy was doing research for the book, she said they were impressed that every region they visited had some version of dinuguan.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                          Forgive me for going off on this tangent, but when you mentioned the rice grown in the Mountain Province terraces, i was reminded of the rice wines my father's tribe used to ferment (dad was Igorot-American). Here is a link to an article about Igorot wine and food - you can't get more native than this.


                                                                                                                                          and a photo of one of the terraces


                                                                                                                                          1. re: fresnohotspot

                                                                                                                                            Cool. I have a friends - a Canadian couple - who have built a fantastic house built into the rocks over a huge gorge in Sagada. They, like all Igorots, scorn all things lowland, including the rices and languages.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                        Growing up in the Philippines, I recall something called "Miracle Rice" which was a product of the "Green Revolution." Sam, was that IR64/ IR72?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: pilinut

                                                                                                                                          The "Green Revolution" stated in the 60s with new rices from IRRI in the Philippines and with wheats from CIMMYT in Mexico. The first released varieties were IR8 followed by IR36 and IR 42, both of these latter two still grown. The press called IR8 "Miracle rice" although I think (but am not sure) Filipinos call IR36 "Milagrosa". IR 64 and IR 72 came along later.

                                                                                                                                      3. re: David A. Goldfarb

                                                                                                                                        Thanks for describing Romy's version of adobo. I've often thought that adobo could be better presented, and his more sophisticated version sounds very sensible. And I do think that a cuisine, like a language, has to evolve. By all means, let us keep the cherished traditional versions of things, but let's try new ideas, too. Romy and Amy offer us new ways of understanding and appreciating our food.

                                                                                                                            3. Oh all this talk about adobo makes me wish that I paid more attention to my Nanay's cooking her adobo and her other delicious dishes. I've tried and my siblings say it's close but I can't replicate her cooking.
                                                                                                                              I escpecially miss her pork adobo and her special Leche Flan. Family parties are not the same without her Leche Flan.

                                                                                                                              1. I haven't read through this entire thread, so apologies if this had already been covered. I see some interesting mods to the classic recipes. Let me add my own mods that have worked -

                                                                                                                                -kaffir lime leaf instead of bay leaf
                                                                                                                                -different vinegars (rice, wine, sherry, regional coconut vinegars) or different souring agents (lime juice)
                                                                                                                                -addition of other dried herbs (oregano, etc)
                                                                                                                                -use anchovies instead of (or in conjuction with) patis
                                                                                                                                -coconut milk and turmeric (an actual regional variation and my favourite. Turmeric is "luya'ng dilaw" and not too commonly used now)
                                                                                                                                -addition of chile pepper for a bit of heat - or use vinegar with "labuyong"

                                                                                                                                ...of course, at some point, it stops being a Filipino adobo and becomes something else altogether. But hey...adobo evolves like everything else.

                                                                                                                                You can also BBQ the cooked chicken adobo prior to serving. Another thing I have done is to marinate fresh plain or garlic pork sausage in adobo marinade -- then onto the BBQ for a sort of BBQ's adobo pork sausage.

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                                                                                                                                1. re: fmed

                                                                                                                                  One of my family's favorite camping foods is adobo. Now that my parents are a little older, they come along camping as long as the rest of us provide everything. Our only stipulation is mom must come with adobo. Reheated over hot coals, served with fresh white rice (this style of rice made over a fire is now laughingly called "Survivor rice") this camping adobo infused with smoke and love is our traditional first night camp meal.

                                                                                                                                2. The lazier the Adobo is done the more fantastic the flavor is I reckon. Like a child, you have to let it run around to make you happy....

                                                                                                                                  Did I make sense there? lol. I actually wrote about it here:


                                                                                                                                  1. Suse! Thank you .... OMG, I made your recipe for the first time last night and it was ahh-mazing!.

                                                                                                                                    The only change I made was that instead of honey (which I was out of), I sprinkled a little brown sugar on top of the chicken quarters (which I used instead of just thighs) the last 15 minutes of cooking and that crisped up the skin so nicely.

                                                                                                                                    Wonderful dish - thank you so much!

                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: Tehama

                                                                                                                                      You're welcome! So happy you liked it. It's addictive, isn't it? I'll have to try your version - I like the crisping up the skin with sugar idea.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: suse

                                                                                                                                        This whole thread is amazing. I still remember the wonderful adobo from a filipino restaurant here that has been out of business for decades. This is inspiring me to try your recipe and also find some coconut and palm vinegars.

                                                                                                                                    2. As a relative newcomer to chicken adobo, this thread has been so exciting to peruse. Before last night, I had tried only Bittman's adobo version (in his world book), which calls for poaching a whole chicken in soy/vinegar with a few additions - chipotle etc. Not so memorable. When I came upon this thread, though, I saw I had had a misleading introduction to this dish! it was hard to decide where to start - but I went with a star anise version, lots of garlic and feather cut onion - and I did add the honey, because we like that sweet/sour/salty thing. Used white wine vinegar, which was fine, but I'm eager to locate a few of those filipino vinegars (pineapple? coconut? yum!) to try. Served with nice sticky sushi rice, simply prepared (no vinegar in the rice!). It was incredibly delicious; my family is already asking when I will make it again. Will try it with shallots next time. Wow - thanks to all for the big inspiration!!!!

                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: lodgegirl

                                                                                                                                        Congrats on the adobo quest.

                                                                                                                                        Just a note: "Sushi rice" is just ordinary California Japanese/Japonica rice placed in smaller bags and sold at much higher prices. For sushi and for adobo, just get Japanese style rice like Kokuho, Koda Bros, or CalRose.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                          I've been buying the lundberg sushi rice by the case through my food coop, but I will search for those you suggest. Always up for saving $ - - I really appreciate your suggestions!

                                                                                                                                      2. I tried this recipe last night and think it will become a regular in our cooking rotation -- it's so simple and tasty. I've never had any kind of adobo before, though. We had lots of braising liquid left over and I saved it. What can I do with it? I see from this thread that some people cook it all the way down, and someone mentioned cooking rice in the liquid. I also thought about adding water and using it for my next batch of chicken adobo (would that work?) Any other ideas? Or should I not have any liquid left over in the first place?

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                                                                                                                                        1. re: Pia

                                                                                                                                          It is terrific to reduce the liquid until syrupy and use it to sauce your food. If you choose to re-use it, you should add more vinegar and soy sauce, otherwise you are simply diluting the braising liquid.

                                                                                                                                          I haven't tried using it as the cooking liquid for rice, but you can use it to flavor garlic fried rice. Another idea I've gotten from CH is to store your leftover adobo with the braising liquid and reheat it in the liquid as necessary. Over time the liquid will reduce and bits of meat will dissolve into the sauce creating something like rillettes over time. The solids and residual liquid can be fried into adobo chips.

                                                                                                                                        2. The 3 essential elements in adobo are vinegar, marination, and slow cooking. The slow cooking is more specifically, cooking gently and long enough so that the fat of the meat renders and the meat cooks in its own fat. Aside from the vinegar and marination, that is key. The meat must cook in its own fat to achieve tenderness, caramelization, and flavor. It's almost as if you're confiting the meat. So in essence, adobo is best made with fatty pieces of meat, like pork belly and shoulder, or chicken thighs and wings. It isn't uncommon for adobo to have a layer of fat sitting atop the liquid. This fat is so flavorful. Some like to discard it, but I like to leave a good amount in the sauce and save the rest for other uses, such as in making garlic fried rice, or in pan frying adobo pieces (ie. adobado).

                                                                                                                                          With respect to vinegar, I believe the best one to use is coconut vinegar, because it has milder, more fragrant, and cleaner taste. It also has a slight sweetness.

                                                                                                                                          Marination will help in flavor penetration, but also in tenderizing the meat by way of the vinegar. I have tasted adobo that were not marinated and those were noticeably less flavorful than adobo that was marinated.

                                                                                                                                          Any leftover adobo sauce can be used to make adobo fried rice, in vegetable stir fries, or as a basting liquid for roasted or barbecued meats. Swirl in some butter and you get a fantastic sauce for a steak.

                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. re: uberathlete

                                                                                                                                            adobo sounds like a perfect candidate for the slow cooker.

                                                                                                                                          2. Peppercorns are awesome in this dish and I also don't like to bite into them.

                                                                                                                                            Solution; cheesecloth

                                                                                                                                            Just pile the peppercorns in the cloth and tie off with string, remove at the end.

                                                                                                                                            1. I got this recipe from another thread (don't remember who posted it) and absolutely love this:

                                                                                                                                              I use chicken breasts for this since the recipe makes a lot of sauce. I might like to try with star anise (mentioned above) to try a different version.