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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!