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recipe: chicken adobo

January 19, 2011

I love to cook, no doubt about that. Most of the things I make in the kitchen, I really like and enjoy. Some dishes are okay so I won’t put those in my menu rotation again. But there are some meals now and then that make me say out loud “THAT is so good!” (I promise, I’m not a fantastic cook – I’m just a normal, run-of-the-mill kind of cook. I just happen to enjoy the things I make!)

Last night for dinner, I made chicken adobo and I have to admit, I was so happy with the results. I took several bites of the chicken and couldn’t help but say “THIS is so good!”. My husband definitely agreed. Yep, I’ll be cooking this again!

Anyway, some of you may be confused, as you’ve seen “adobo” used in Spanish dishes. According to Wikipedia, “adobo” is:

“Spanish for sauce, seasoning, or marinade used in Latin American and Southwest U.S.-style cooking. The noun form describes a marinade or seasoning mix. Recipes vary widely by region: Puerto Rican adobo, a rub used principally on meats, differs greatly from the Mexican variety. Meat marinated or seasoned with an adobo is referred to having been adobada or adobado.

Adobo relates to marinated dishes such as chipotles en adobo or chipotles in adobo sauce is a condiment in which chipotles (smoked ripe jalapeño peppers) are stewed in a sauce with tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, salt, and spices. The spices vary, but generally include several types of peppers (in addition to the chipotle and most likely those on hand), ground cumin and dried oregano. Some recipes include orange juice and lemon or lime juices. They often include a pinch of brown sugar just to offset any bitter taste.

Adobo is prepared in regions of Latin America and Spain. Pork, spices, and especially red pepper are used. Dishes with the borrowed name, but with different cultural roots, are prepared in the Philippines.”

And there we have it folks. “Adobo” is also found in Filipino cooking. And since I’m Filipino, I figured I ought to expand my repertoire (currently, I know how to cook 5 Filipino dishes). If you’ve got a hankering for exotic foods, give this dish a try! I promise, you won’t regret it.

Filipino-style Chicken Adobo (slightly adapted from LA Times)


  • approximately 3 lbs of chicken (I used a mix of boneless, skinless chicken thighs & chicken tenderloins), cut up into 2-inch pieces, rinsed and patted dry
  • canola oil
  • 6 large cloves of garlic, skinned
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp coarsely ground black pepper (I just eyeballed this and to me, the more spice the better!)
  • 1 tsp whole peppercorns
  • 4 dried bay leaves
  • steamed brown rice (optional)

1. Using a deep & large saute pan (with lid), put enough canola oil in the pan to cover the surface (maybe 3 tbsp?). Heat oil to medium-high heat and cook & brown the chicken pieces. This may take 5-10 minutes , if you cook the chicken in batches.

(note A – I was running out of time and was not able to cook the chicken in batches, LIKE YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO (eek!), but of course, I made do. Also, I didn’t have time to completely dry the chicken, so when I cooked all the chicken pieces in the pan, I ended up creating a “steaming” effect. It took a while to cook & brown the chicken but I had the nice bits of fat (sucs) at the bottom of the pan, which gave this dish, in my opinion, an extra oooomph.)

(note B – You don’t have to brown the chicken in oil. You can just begin the recipe by putting all the chicken pieces in the pan and adding the rest of the ingredients, beginning with STEP #2. I only did it this way because that’s how my mom and dad make this dish.)

2. Add garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, ground pepper, peppercorns and bay leaves to the pan and mix it carefully.

3. Bring the chicken mixture to a boil (letting it boil for a minute), then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover the pan and let it simmer for 25 minutes. Stir the chicken halfway through the simmer. You can also use this time to scrape up and mix the bits that are at the bottom of the pan.

4. Remove all the chicken pieces and put in a bowl. Cook the sauce for 3-4 minutes, then add the sauce to the chicken.

5. Remove the bay leaves. Serve chicken with brown rice.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Melinda umas permalink
    January 19, 2011 8:50 pm

    I look forward to making it one day. My sister is living with me now and likes to try new stuff. We also love Filipino Adobo.

  2. January 19, 2011 8:54 pm

    Hi Melinda! It’s actually Filipino Adobo (I clarified it in the recipe above).

  3. Ash permalink
    January 20, 2011 7:16 pm

    This is such an easy recipe, I made it without browning the chicken (wanted to keep it low fat) and it turned out just fine. I make another recipe similar to this with equal portions of beef and pork, other ingredients are similar to ones to used except for the apple cider (lemon instead of that) and loads of whole red chillies, green chillies, pepper and extra garlic. It’s spicy, but yum 🙂

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