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.
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 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.
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 soothes our body when in pain, such as sore throats, cough and colds, and other viral illnesses.
Savory Adobo with Oyster Sauce
This variant is a simple version where you just need to add an oyster sauce. This makes your dish extra flavorful. Therefore, you have to be mindful of the brand that you will be buying because there are some that are too much salty.
In addition, putting soy sauce can already make your food salty, so just gradually add the oyster sauce in your cooking until you reach the desired taste. Plus, an excessive amount of this sauce is dangerously too much for your kidney and liver.
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.
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 being 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 by 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 on how to make adobo marinade and sauce, depending on the available ingredients. But as we have explained previously, the vinegar sets the base flavor of the meat. Ideally, some use palm tree sap extracted vinegar, which is native in 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 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 it. 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 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 the 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 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
- 3/4 cup Vinegar
- 1/2 cup Soy Sauce
- 1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
- 1/2 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.