This week seems to be about Filipino food, eh? I swear it’s not intentional, although it can be explained by the fact that I need my comfort foods. I’m here in Vancouver and I’m not really liking the cold and rain and cold and rain.

Welcome to winter in Vancouver. It’s raining hard outside and the wind is howling as I type this. Brrr.


Adobo is a popular Philippine dish, and a lot of people (including me) consider it the national dish. It’s chicken and/or pork marinated and cooked in soy sauce, vinegar, garlic and spices. There are many variants of the dish, depending on the region of the Philippines, much like every province there has its own dialect. Others like it sour, others like it dry, others like it with chicken liver — it’s all about preference. I have tried numerous recipes over the Internet, but none of them satisfied my picky tastebuds. They tasted OKAY, but it doesn’t bring me back “home”. It makes me think of Chicagoans [ahem, Dan :-)] who think/say that pizza and hotdogs in Chicago are much better than in any other place. In other words: Not the same as home.

Anyway, finally…tonight! Mark it! I’ve cooked an Adobo that I think will make my foremothers proud. Hehe. I actually measured the ingredients just for you folks. If you try it, do let me know what you think!

~ I included healthy substitutes in the recipe for those with health concerns. We don’t want our dear readers to just collapse from all our super-healthy dishes. ;-)

This is one of those dishes that you can definitely make ahead of time because it tastes so much better a couple of days later. Don’t worry about food poisoning, the vinegar in it acts as a preservative. Just make sure to keep it in the fridge, or freezer for longer storage.

Chicken Adobo (Good for about 2 decently hungry people)
Serve with white rice, or wild rice blend, or quinoa, or other grains of choice. [I highly recommend you try cooking 1 part white rice and 1/2 part sticky rice, with 2 parts water…heaven!]

  • 1/2 kg chicken and/or pork (I used chicken legs, my favorite because they’re tasty.) [Healthier: Remove the skin.]
  • 3 tbsp. Kikkoman Soy Sauce [Healthier: Kikkoman Less Sodium Soy Sauce; Healthiest: Bragg Liquid Aminos]
  • 1/3 cup Lorins Sukang Paombong/Nipa-Sap Vinegar [Substitute: white vinegar, apple cider vinegar (use 2 tbsp or less because it is way more sour, Healthy: Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar]
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp and 1 tsp minced garlic (divided) [traditionally smashed whole cloves of garlic are used]
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups water (divided)

Get cookin’:

1. Stir together soy sauce, vinegar, ground pepper, salt, bay leaf, and minced garlic (1 tbsp) in a pot.

Step 1

2. Add the chicken. Turn it in the mixture, let it bathe in all those good flavors. Cover and marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge. Turn the chicken pieces halfway through the marinating time to give some soaking time for the other side.

Step 2

3. After marinating, add 2 cups of water and cook in medium heat for 20-30 minutes, or until chicken is tender and almost cooked. Cover it for the first 15 minutes only. Make sure to turn on your exhaust fan because this is one ‘aromatic’ dish.

4. Drain the sauce into a bowl and place the chicken on a separate dish. Throw out the bay leaf. On the newly-emptied pot, heat up the olive oil in medium heat. [This is when I tell you to start cooking your rice in the rice cooker. If you do it manually, cook it in step 3.]

Step 4

5. Add the remaining 1 tsp minced garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes.

Step 5

6. Add the chicken and fry until golden brown, and the skin is starting to turn brown from the soy sauce and frying. If you’re half-health conscious and you left the skin on at first and you changed your mind, remove it before frying.

Other people eat the chicken right after frying, skipping the abundant sauce. By the time you get to this point, you will have thoughts of doing that, too. It smells SO good.

Step 6

7. Make sure your chicken is fully cooked before adding back the sauce. Stir in the sauce carefully, add water if it’s too salty. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes.

Step 3

8. Take off the heat. Hopefully your rice is cooked and you can eat. Pour some of the sauce on top of the rice. Bon appetit!

Step 8

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  • January 12, 2008 4:11 am

    Nice photos! Really make me hungry. And nice that you put in the substitutes for the original ingredients :-) Thanks for sharing.

  • January 12, 2008 7:11 am

    Mmm, adobo… definitely one of my most comforting comfort foods. Your recipe looks good. I got a copy of The Adobo Cookbook recently, and have been making the “Aling Asiang” recipe. Sooo good, my family and friends have been requesting it over and over again!

  • joy
    January 12, 2008 9:05 am

    Kopi Dunia — Thanks for dropping by and you’re welcome!

    Lorraine — Tell me about it…it’s our classic go-to dish for Filipinos. :) There’s an Adobo Cookbook???? Where can I buy this?

  • January 12, 2008 9:11 am

    I did a quick search, and it’s called The Adobo Book by Reynaldo Gamboa Alejandro & Nancy Reyes-Lumen. I found: a listing on ebay, and also on the publisher’s site. Hope this helps!

  • January 14, 2008 2:58 am

    i love adobo! i cooked adobo once with fresh rosemary and a little balsamic. still amazing. :-)

  • joy
    January 14, 2008 6:49 pm

    Lorraine — Thanks, you rock!

    dyosa – Hmmm…I’ll have to try that next time!

  • February 18, 2008 6:27 pm

    i have yet to perfect this dish. it’s one of my all-time favorites, too! i’ve only made it once… and when i did, it didn’t come out dark enough because i didn’t use dark soy sauce. my mom came to my house a couple weekends ago and brought a HUGE batch of chicken adobo (and pork adobo is also good). the only 2 Filipino dishes i know how to make very well are pancit & pork sinigang. have you tried making those yet?

  • joy
    February 19, 2008 3:51 pm

    Each time I cook this dish, it comes out tasting different every time, that’s why I just wrote the recipe down this time because this turned out surprisingly well. I wish I can cook pansit and pork sinigang. I love them both!

  • Roz
    December 30, 2010 3:10 pm

    Can you use Rice wine vinegar instead of Nipa Sap? I’ve looked everywhere for Nipa sap and was thinking Rice Wine might be a good sub. Tell me what you think.

    • joy
      February 1, 2011 12:36 am

      Hi Roz, I haven’t tried it with adobo. Give it a try, but keep tasting the sauce to make sure it doesn’t get too sour.

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