Adobo is one of the Philippines’ best-loved dishes of all time. The experience of eating this is so captivating that it will most likely win a country-wide nomination for a national dish.
Moreover, aside from its irresistible aroma and taste, this dish has gained prominence and prestige among Filipinos due to its colorful history. Notably, it has begun simply as a cooking style, which has evolved into a legitimate recipe.
In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about the classic recipe. You will be amazed by its profound history, ways of cooking, delightful variants, and even its mysterious sauce. Hence, you will gain confidence and a sense of pride to be able to cook an internationally known Filipino dish.
Our First Adobo Experience
As we recalled, it was the summer of 2012, when we attempted to cook Adobo for the first time. Despite following all the instructions in a recipe, the finished product was not acceptable. Heart-breaking indeed, it tasted too sour because we have poured an excessive amount of vinegar on the meat!
However, instead of continuously nursing our broken hearts over our failed cooking stint, we took it as a lesson learned. We promised ourselves that the next time we would be cooking this meal, we will be much more careful and will look further into details.
But, perfecting the dish was not easy at all. The next time we run this recipe, the meat is overcooked. We let it stand for one hour without checking it from time to time. Thus, the meat was shredded, and we thought our meal was completely doomed.
On the contrary, to our surprise, the shredded meat has turned out to be flakes. We fixed it by frying the shreds and mixed it with chilies and marinade. As a result, the strike-out number 2 of classic pork Adobo has become home-run flakes.
Origin and History
With various historical accounts, adobo origin and history seem to be uncertain. But it is hilarious that many culinary experts argue on how to cook this dish the right and original way. Nevertheless, this fact confirms how delicate the details of cooking this have been, so let’s look back and discover how it has evolved.
Originally, the known Filipino recipe is a technique on how to prepare marinated meat. Caribbean Latinos, it is a kind of seasoning used for soup stock. While for Mexicans, it is a kind of sauce made of chilies, vinegar, and other spices. But, locally, Filipino Adobo is a combination of meat, either chicken or pork, or both or seafood, marinated in vinegar, and salt. Our very own Adobo was called “adobong puti,” but when the Chinese introduced Soy Sauce to the Filipino, it became black.
In the Philippines, during the inhabitation of the Malay voyagers, pasteurization and refrigeration have just emerged. Salt and vinegar were highly regarded as food preservatives. In the process, the Filipinos adopted the condiments in preserving their food, particularly chicken, fish, and pork. Later on, black pepper, garlic, and onion were included in the mixture to be able to extend further the shelf-life of the food.
Consequently, when the Chinese Peddlers arrived, various wares were introduced and sold across the land. One of the best-selling products of the merchants was soy sauce. Many Filipinos have found soy sauce as a salting agent other than salt itself. So, different spices and ingredients have been traded in exchange for soy sauce.
Fast-forward to the Spanish occupation, Filipinos still observe the traditional food preservation method. However, this method has found similarities with the Spanish pickling sauce or marinade, which was called “adobar.” Hence, it is from this term where the food preservation technique was derived from and gave birth to its present name adobo. In fact, based on the accounts of Pedro de San Buenaventura, he named the local Adobo as “adobo de Los naturales” which means Adobo of the natives.
Furthermore, it was also noted that Filipinos employ clay pots in cooking this dish. But, as we modernized, metal pots or pressure cookers have been utilized in cooking this dish. In addition, aside from chicken and pork, vegetables and other seafood have been included.
Amidst this long history, this recipe remains about chicken and pork being marinated in a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, and spices. Proper marination and gradual cooking time are the essential parts of the cooking.
The popularity of the Unofficial National Dish of The Philippines
As a matter of fact, Adobo has been so popular in the Philippine islands to the extent that there are a variety of versions across the archipelago.
Some regions mix gata or coconut milk, while others make it spicier. There are also some who prefer it sweeter by either putting some sugar or fruit like pineapple. Meanwhile, some want to intensify the flavor by adding liver, laurel, and other more ingredients.
So much so, the Philippine version has even made a global impression by being featured in different international cooking shows such as Top Chef. With this kind of regard, the Philippine version has put itself on the world map of classic dishes.
Well-Loved Chicken and Pork Adobo
Of course, who could resist the lovely chicken and pork? It is an all-time and all-occasion type of meat used in Adobo, which is frequently served in picnics, birthdays, beach or pool parties, and other holidays and occasions.
Nowadays, it is often cooked in cauldrons. The spicy version of it is also a perfect “pulutan” in the Philippines. It is best paired with a cold beer and a night filled with music.
How Many Calories Does Adobo Have?
One serving of chicken thigh is equivalent to 107 calories consisting of 44% fat, 10% carbohydrates, and 47% protein.
For Pork :
One serving (100 g) is equivalent to 165 calories comprised of 58% fat, 9% carbohydrates, and 38% protein.
This is based on a 2000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs, your daily values in percent change.
The Best Filipino Chicken and Pork Adobo Recipe Variants
Being famous, this recipe has given birth to many variations across numerous locations and regions. So, we listed below and described the awesomeness of each
This version uses different chicken parts such as boneless skinless chicken thighs, chicken wings, and drumsticks as its primary ingredient. Aside from pork and fish, most Filipinos include this ingredient in their cuisines. Chicken thighs have a tasty relish that can provide a delightful flavor that can activate your appetite instantly.
The most essential is to prepare your chicken thighs as tender until it falls off from the bones in making this recipe. The more it cooks, the more delicious relish you can bring out. The sauce from this ingredient is a bit more delightful than the fish. It can complement most vegetables and other components.
That is why many individuals are using it for their menus. Some people also include this compound in their diet because it contains fewer fats than pork and beef. It can keep you from eating more and more. Besides, it is easy to cook and softens.
This version uses pork as its primary ingredient. Aside from chicken, many Filipinos love to use this ingredient in this recipe. However, Filipino pork adobo needs more time to prepare because it requires tenderness before serving it on your dining table.
In making Filipino pork adobo, the soft consistency of the meat is essential. Ensure that you tenderize it before you serve this meal. You can also put some other ingredients like potatoes, carrots, Saba banana, and egg.
Sitaw or String Beans Version
It is another vegetable version of our star menu and uses string beans as the primary ingredient of this variety. Most Filipinos typically serve this String beans recipe at their dining table. If you are a vegetarian, you can again try this menu. However, just eliminate the pork that we are going to add.
String beans are one of the most abundant in tropical countries like the Philippines. The production of these vegetables requires more warm weather than cold ones. So, it is not surprising that many Filipinos include this kind of veggies in making different courses like our star menu.
String beans are also a type of vegetable that can absorb flavors. Yet, it can also give a relish that can provide a savory effect to your mixture. As a result, you can create an outstanding output to enjoy.
Delicious Adobo Flakes
Remember, this version has made our moment of redemption during the second try of cooking this meal. But aside from failed cooking experiments, what else can be the opportunity to do a remake?
So, after savoring your pork or chicken adobo, for sure, there will be leftovers. Get the leftovers and cut them into shreds. Then, fry it again with the original marinade, and presto, you have newly cooked flakes. Hence, you can make a sandwich out of it.
Creamy Adobo sa Gata
Do you want to gratify further orally? Then, creamy “adobo sa gata” is the ultimate pleasure. It is a version where the marinade and sauce are mixed with coconut milk. Fortunately, the Philippine archipelago is gifted with abundant coconut trees from the northern part of Luzon down to the farthest corners of Mindanao.
Interestingly, a lot of classic Filipino dishes has turned up the notch when gata is infused. Moreover, the creamy texture of this version blends more when it is spiced up. Thus, it will be more difficult to restrict your rice when eating this.
Enticing Adobo sa Dilaw
Sometimes deviating from tradition finds new tastes. This unique taste can be found in the enticing “adobo sa dilaw.” In this version, instead of soy sauce, luyang dilaw or ginger is used as the main ingredient.
Provided that the meat is tenderly cooked, you just need to add more salt to enhance the flavor. However, patience is highly required when cooking this because you got a lot of stirring and mixing to do in order for the sauce not to spill.
Nevertheless, the use of ginger may bring good health rewards. Did you know that turmeric extracts are derived from gingers? These enzymes possess anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe our body when in pain, such as sore throats, cough and colds, and other viral illnesses.
Savory Adobo with Oyster Sauce and Tofu
Sometimes putting extra flavorings can provide an additional savory effect. For example, this version of our star recipe. Given that the soya sauce can give a salty taste to adobo.
However, the oyster sauce can level up your mixture entirely. Oyster sauce has a unique savory content that you can use in making numerous dishes like our star recipe. That is why we include this in this list.
The oyster sauce can complement the taste of your meat courses. Plus, there are also some vegetables that you can cook, and putting oyster sauce on it can provide an extra exceptional taste. An excellent example of that is the Adobong Kangkong or water spinach.
Adding tofu is also a great choice to consider. Tofu can absorb the flavorings that you are pouting in your menu. That is why combining it with your cuisine is an outstanding option.
Mouthwatering Adobo with Pineapple
Combining sweet flavor with something salty has a neutralizing effect. In line with this, Adobo with pineapple suits this feat. In fact, most Filipinos loved this version.
To pull this off, you need to infuse freshly cut chunks of pineapple into the marinade mixture cooked together with the meat. The burst of fruit sweetness blends well with the savory taste of the marinade soaking deep into the flesh of the meat. The finished product stars every special occasion such as holidays, family bonding, and social gatherings.
Adobo with Potatoes
Sometimes there are cases in which some individuals put in additional ingredients to make their meals more exciting. The extra volume of your food can have a remarkable effect on your entire menu. Plus, it can also provide an additional savory taste to your recipe. That is why considering potatoes in our adobo is also an excellent option.
Moreover, potatoes are one of the most typical ingredients you can see in numerous Filipino courses. Aside from adobo, many famous cuisines include potatoes on their menu. Potatoes can absorb the flavor of any cuisine that you have.
For that reason, many people use this compound to make their dishes more delightful. Besides, carrots are a great partner of this compound. You can include it also if you desire to.
Adobo with Egg
The egg is an essential ingredient in numerous courses you have. But for some reason, even if you don't need it for your dishes, you desire to add a particular extra structure. You can consider it anywhen you ought to, Adobo is one of the courses where you can add the egg.
The saltiness of adobo can provide a savory effect on your eggs. Eggs can absorb any flavor that you put in your mixture. That is why it can also contain a fantastic taste while eating it.
Serving adobo with an excellent compound like eggs can give you outstanding output plus, you can also attract your kids to try this delightful menu. Kids love eggs, that is why it might build their interest if you put it in our star cuisine. Plus, it also has a nutritional value that can help you to improve your health.
Adobong Kangkong or Water Spinach
Vegetables are beneficial when it comes to adding a savory effect to your recipes. Each of them can complement a specific menu that can provide your extraordinary taste. An excellent example of that is this Kangkong recipe.
Its unique taste of it surprisingly works well as one of the varieties of adobo. You can also add some pork to its mixture because these veggies can complement this ingredient’s taste. You can also add cooking wine and add sweetness to your mix.
Kangkong is one of the vegetables that can tolerate the saltiness of this recipe. It contains a lot of water content that can counter the high salinity of this recipe. Other than that, it is easy to find and use. For that reason, it can be a convenient meal for everybody.
Adobo sa Puti
This section includes information about another version of our star recipe. The color is much different than the original recipe that we grew up on. However, it also fits in the variety of our star menu.
Practically, the used color of our star menu that we perceive is always dark brown. But, the reality hits when this version appears. It’s most likely the counterpart of our typical star cuisine that we see growing up.
In the Philippines, some people have creative and resourceful minds, creating unique products. And one of those is this version. As we mention in our star menu’s history, a province in the Philippines has the same recipe as this kind.
In Taytay, Rizal, there is a recipe known as Adobong Matanda that is somehow similar and named White Adobo. Moreover, this mixture eliminates the soya sauce and other ingredients. As for the people there, instead of using soy, they use vinegar, garlic, and whole pepper only.
It is quite simple, but it is also a perfect menu that can boost your appetite to keep you from eating more. It might be different in its appearance, but it also contains our star dish’s tasty flavor.
Muslims are one of the people who don't consume pork. They forbid themselves to consume this course because of their tradition and culture. Instead of pork, they use chicken in their numerous recipes, like this menu.
The Maranao Special is one of their versions of our star recipe Filipino chicken adobo. Given that they don’t eat pork, they also try cooking and substituting chicken for pork and making Filipino chicken adobo. They also involve themselves to participate in this kind of festival celebration.
Muslims make this Maranao Special as their entry. However, there is a secret about their recipe. They are using a different type of onion that they can only get from Mindanao.
It is a particular variety that you can find anywhere aside from Mindanao, they call it Skurab. For them, it's tastier and flavor than our typical onion. That is why they believe that cooking their specialty is more savory and aromatic with this compound.
This version is not familiar to other people because Filipinos use a particular ingredient that many of us are not aware of. This ingredient is the eel. You can use it for preparing our star menu.
It's an uncommon compound that surprisingly can be one of the delicious varieties of this recipe. It is a kind of fish that you can get in most of the fish ponds in Bulacan province. In the Municipal of Bulakan, Bulacan, there is a certain kind of eel that you can use to make this version of our star food.
It is slightly smaller than the other type of it and has fewer bones. It is easier to consume because it has tiny and irregular bones. The firmness of its flavor is unique.
However, the cleaning procedure of this fish is somehow different from the others. They use ashes that came from the woods that you use in making a fire. Putting it in the eel and scrubbing it in each of them is the proper way to clean it, they do it to remove the slime and fishy smell of your eel.
Cutting its head is the proper way to start its cleaning. Slicing its stomach and getting its organ out of it. Slice it into small pieces, and don’t wash the blood.
They believe that the key to having a tasty eel recipe is the blood that this ingredient has. And the best thing to eliminate the fishy taste and smell of it is to braise it with vinegar.
Roasted Pork Version
This version is a little bit different than the others. It is not a standard version of our star recipe that you usually notice at different dining tables. In preparing this recipe, they are using a big chunk of pork belly as its primary ingredient.
They roll it into one piece and cook it. Thus, the procedures of this style are somehow similar to cooking Hamunado. It is a Filipino cuisine that uses pork belly also.
They are both using a marinating meat method to make their pork tastier. So, without any hesitations, let us move forward in processing this delightful recipe.
Bituka ng Bangus version
This version is uncommon for some people because it uses the milkfish’s intestine (Bangus) as its primary ingredient. This mixture is unique and exciting to learn. In preparing this compound, removing all the dirt from the intestines’ entire edges is the first thing to do.
On the other side, they are boiling the vinegar, water, garlic, and pepper. After cleaning, they bring it to a boil to remove the fishy smell and taste. Furthermore, to avoid it separating and becoming mushy, you need to set your time in the range of 5 minutes to 8 minutes.
Strain and drain it. And start the cooking of the version of our star menu.
Adobong Isaw ng Baboy
You can include it as one of the exotic dishes that you can have in the Philippines, aside from Higado, Bopis, Papaitan, and many more. This version is famous as a Pulutan and a meal that you can serve at your dining table, its unique and distinctive taste can boost your appetite to keep you from eating more. It’s unusual for some individuals, but it is a delicious cuisine for Filipinos to prepare.
The pork intestine is one of the pig’s easy-to-find parts but easy to sell. That is why when you desire to cook this kind of recipe, ensure that you buy it early in the morning at your local markets. This ingredient can be a special recipe that you can serve on any occasion that you have.
However, it also contains a strong smell that you need to eliminate because it can also affect your meal’s taste if you did not clean it properly. The best way to remove that smell is to bring it to a boil with salt and some vinegar. Boil it first for about 20 minutes to 30 minutes. After that, you can slice it and prepare it to cook as one of our star dishes.
Pusit or Squid version
Let us dive into the seafood side of making our star menu. This version uses squid as its primary ingredient. It has a unique savory taste that you can enjoy endlessly.
You can elevate our star recipe by using it and serving it on any occasion that you have. Apart from that, it is easier to cook.
On the contrary, in using this ingredient, ensure that you clean it properly. This ingredient has a transparent backbone inside of it that you need to remove. Also, remove the mouth at the center part of its tentacles.
These two are both unedible. That is why you need to eliminate them properly.
Pinoy Adobo Ingredients and Seasoning
As mentioned, there are regional differences when it comes to preparing this dish. There are also differences in ingredients and spices. Nonetheless, below are the ingredients and seasoning of the classic version of this dish.
chicken thigh or drumsticks or pork belly
a. The vinegar is the base ingredient. Historically, it was the prime condiment to preserve the shelf-life of the meat together with salt and black pepper.
b. Soy Sauce is the one responsible for adding a savory flavor, acting like a seasoning for the meat.
c. Garlic is also included to supply spice.
d. Bay leaves, commonly known as laurel leaves, are also included to reduce the stench. Somehow it adds to the aesthetic identity of this cuisine when garnished with this leaf.
e. And of course, coconut or olive oil to speed up the cooking of the entire meal.
Fast and Slow Ways of Cooking
There are various ways of cooking Adobo, you can use a pressure cooker, slow cooker, or crockpot.
If you want to reduce the cooking time to 15-20 minutes for this dish, using a pressure cooker might be an excellent option for you. This makes it easier for households to serve this dish more rapidly. Nonetheless, you should still not take the marination process lightly. Marinate it for an hour or two or even overnight.
Of course, the better way of maintaining the quality of the finished product is by using the slow-cooker method.
All you have to do is just put all the ingredients inside the casserole and let the meat absorb all the flavor. Chicken meat is preferred for a slow cooker.
Similar to slow cooker, the crockpot method is also an excellent option. The meat is slowly cooked while the sauce and ingredients are absorbed. As a result, the meat turns out to be well-tendered.
What is Special With Adobo Sauce?
Indeed, the sauce of this majestic dish is exquisite that just pouring it into a bowl of hot steamed rice, without even tasting the meat, is already satisfying. More than that, the sauce is also compatible with other dishes such as stews, vegetables, and meat dishes. And above all, the sauce is very easy to prepare.
Is Adobo Sauce Spicy?
Traditionally, the sauce is not spicy. However, Filipinos in some regions across the country, and likewise around the world, prefer it extra hot. The hot and spicy sauce makes you eat more rice or increase your temperature. Hence, this effect suits well in places with a colder climate and season.
How to Make the Best Adobo Marinade and Sauce
There are different ways how to make adobo marinade and sauce, depending on the available ingredients. But as we have explained previously, vinegar sets the base flavor of the meat. Ideally, some use palm tree sap-extracted vinegar, which is native to countries along the Pacific regions. Nonetheless, white vinegar and apple cider can be good alternatives as well.
However, depending on what you like, you can make your sauce stronger and thicker, with an intense garlic aroma. Likewise, you can also make it spicier by adding green and red chilies.
As a reminder, make sure that your utensils are clean when preparing them. Use a container with a secured covering so that you can still keep the leftovers,
Best Served With
It’s always nice to have a dish that can be paired with different liquid and solid types of food. Below are the common partners of this dish.
a. Rice (brown or white)- indeed, as a staple food, any Filipino dish is incomplete without rice. The baseline for knowing if what you have cooked is good is when the sauce alone is enough to flavor the rice.
b. Spicy Dip (Preferably Fish sauce)- if you prefer the flavor to be overwhelming and you wanted to eat more rice, a spicy dip is the game-changer. It soothes well when the weather is cold.
b. A cup of coffee (in the morning)- when you want to begin your day with an amazing adobo, it matches well with a fresh brood coffee.
c. Soup (preferably sour)- eating plentily requires an appetizer, sour-based soup can do the job while enjoying your meal.
d. Soft Drinks – finally, a cold refreshing soft drink can quench your thirst or ease up when you choke yourself while eating quickly.
Absolutely, Adobo is at the pedestal among traditional Filipino dishes. It is a witness to our long history and a product of various innovations. With this article, we hope you have everything you need to know about this fine recipe. Try it and make yourself filled with awe by cooking this for you and your family.
For the more delicious recipe, visit Eat Like Pinoy!
Best Pork and Chicken Adobo Recipe
- 1 lb Pork cut into serving pieces
- 1 lb Chicken cut into serving pieces
- ¾ cup Vinegar
- ½ cup Soy Sauce
- ½ teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
- ½ cup Cooking Oil
- 6 cloves Garlic minced
- 2 cups Water
- 1 pc Bay Leaf
- In a casserole, combine pork and chicken with garlic, soy sauce, vinegar and water.
- Add pepper and bay leaf. Simmer for 45 minutes over medium to low heat.
- Remove chicken from the casserole and leave the pork. Boil for about 15 minutes over low heat.
- Then put-in the chicken again in the casserole and cook for another 5 minutes. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a pan.
- Fry the pork and chicken for 5 minutes or until the meat turns half brown.
- Then remove the oil from the pan and pour the cooked sauce. Boil for another 5 minutes.
- Serve while hot! Enjoy.