adobo dish chicken / poultry

Filipino Classic Adobong Manok (Chicken Braised in Vinegar and Soysauce)

Thursday, March 20, 2014Enz F


Certainly, Adobo is one of the first dishes I had learned to cook when I was a child; that is apart from sinaing na kanin sa rice cooker (rice cooked in an electric rice cooker) and pan-fried scrambled egg (I came to master the sunny side up version eventually). I can still recall that we always have adobo packed as baon for lunch or as snack during picnics and outings. It is a perfect suggestion whenever we wish to prepare a meal that has easy ingredients and is not easily perished. Filipino adobo dish has a relatively long shelf-life due to the acidity from the vinegar and the sodium content of the other flavoring ingredients (e.g. salt and soy sauce), which create a nonconducive environment for the growth of the spoilage-causing bacteria.

Adobo dish has been an emblem of one's dignity as a Filipino wherever he or she may go.

Adobo’s versatility and preserving characteristics has gained a status that is not only omnipresent within the islands of the Philippines but that also goes all through the ends of the world. It has been an emblem of one’s dignity and Filipinism wherever he or she may go. In fact, there is a pending bill in the Philippine Congress that seeks to make an official declaration of the country’s national symbols, adobo being the national food. To say the least, as long as there is a Filipino, definitely, there is adobo. It serves as a comfort dish that uplifts the spirits of every diligent Filipino workers abroad, the same way as it serves as a welcome treat to the balikbayan (homecomers) returning to their country. The distinct taste of adobo is truly the taste of home.

If one would take a closer look at Filipino adobo, it could be considered more of a cooking method rather than a specific dish. Adobo is actually a process that utilizes meat, fish, seafood or vegetable cutlets marinated for some time and stewed into desired doneness in the mixture of vinegar, salt, soy sauce and spices such as garlic, onion, bay leaves and peppercorn. It can be kept, reheated and consumed for a number of days.

Adobo might have derived its name from the old Spanish word adobar, which means “marinade” or “to marinate”.

Adobo might have derived its name from the old Spanish word adobar, which means “marinade” or “to marinate”. Other reference also says that adobo is related, although distantly, to adobado, a tasty Spanish concoction of pork loin infused in seasonings and spices, cured for weeks and simmered for several hours. In Spanish cuisine, in fact, it refers to a pickling sauce made with the mixture of olive oil, vinegar, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, cinnamon, oregano, paprika and salt. When Spanish settlers came to the Philippines, they witnessed an indigenous method of stewing meat in vinegar and later on baptized the dish as adobo. The word adobo was also a kind of dish or food processing method in some of the known Spanish colonies like Mexico and the Carribeans. The Mexican refers it to a piquant red sauce made from ground chilies, herbs and vinegar preserved in can or jar whereas the Caribbean usually pertains to a dry rub of garlic, onion, oregano, salt and pepper.

It is true that many of the Filipino dishes were influenced and brought to us by Spain which invaded and ruled the country for more than three hundred years. But long before the Spanish marinades came to approach our shores, the ingredients of the adobo that is known to us today were already existent. Filipino natives, similar to many cultures based in warm climate, had already developed various methods of preserving food. Early Filipinos were known to cook their food minimally through moist-and-heat techniques like steaming, roasting or boiling. To retain the freshness and keep consumable for a longer time, they used plenty of salt and vinegar in their cooking. Later then, came the Chinese traders who introduced the soy sauce that found its way to our once nameless vinegar-braised dish, ultimately taking the salt out of the scene. However, some conservatives still stick to salt as the main ingredient for adobo.

What sets adobo apart from the other and makes it truly Filipino are its numerous and almost infinite regional variations in which the basic compositions are retained, and as time goes by, constantly reinvented and enhanced by whatever prolific and available ingredients and spices, which assortments are not limited from wild red chilies to locally grown sugar cane and coconuts. Filipinos never run out of ideas and continue to come up with a number of innovations rooted from this centuries-old classic ubiquitous dish. To give you a quick glance, here is a list to name a few:

The standard adobong manok has a distinct dark brown color as it is usually marinated in the mixture of soy sauce and vinegar.
  • Adobong manok at baboy (Chicken and pork braised in vinegar and soy sauce) – This is considered the “standard” version commonly prepared as regular viand in our households today. Usually, chicken, pork or a combination of two is used as the main meat ingredients. It has a distinct dark brown color and salty flavor as it is marinated in the mixture of vinegar and soy sauce. It becomes tastier and more flavorful the longer it is kept as the meat reabsorbs and becomes intensified by the seasonings and marinade sauce.
Adobong baka Photo credit: Cooking with Peachy
  • Adobong baka (Braised beef in vinegar and soy sauce) – This is also known as Adobong Batangas as it originated in the province of Batangas. It is a more decadent variation of the classic adobo. The beef briskets take a longer time to cook as its meat is tougher compared to chicken and pork. This is best cooked almost dry to let the seasonings absorb and blend well with the richness of the beef.
Piniritong adobong isda

  • Piniritong adobong isda (Crispy fish adobo) – This is the fish version of the standard adobo. This is made crispy by frying the fish after stewing. Galunggong (mackerel scad), matambaka (bigeye scad), dalag (mudfish), hito (catfish) and dinaing na bangus (milkfish fillet) usually suit for this dish.
Adobong dilaw Photo credit: Overseas Pinoy Cooking

  • Adobong dilaw (Yellow Adobo) – This is another version from Batangas. What sets it apart is the use of luyang dilaw (turmeric) as a seasoning ingredient in place of soy sauce. Its bright yellowish appearance (quite similar to yellow curry dishes) from turmeric is where it derived its name.
Adobong pula
Adobo sa gata Photo Credit: Ang Sarap

  • Adobo sa gata (Adobo with coconut milk) – This is the variation popular in the Bicol Region. This Bicolano take on the quintessential adobo is first stewed in the usual vinegar and soy sauce marinade and then completed with kakang gata (pure coconut milk) to soften the acidity and saltiness of the dish. It is further spiced up by either siling haba (long green chilies) or siling labuyo (wild red chili peppers or bird’s eye chilies).
Adobong puti Photo Credit: Reel and Grill

  • Adobong puti (White adobo) – This has derived its name from the white cane vinegar used as the marinade, eliminating the use of soy sauce. The meat ingredient, though, is actually brown in color due to the frying prior to stewing. It is more preferred by the conservatives and believed to be closest to the earliest way of cooking adobo since it only emphasizes the use of the most basic and essential ingredients of adobo: vinegar, salt, garlic and peppercorns.
  • Adobong puso ng saging (Banana blossom stewed in vinegar) – This twist is originated in the province of Cavite. It is a vegetable-based adobo which uses shreds of banana blossom as the star ingredient. The vegetable is first sautéed in white vinegar and then seasoned with bagoong alamang (shrimp paste) and suahe (small shrimps). It is a popular toppings on the region’s adaptation of pancit guisado.
  • Adobong Malutong (Crispy Adobo) – This adobo version is a product of Pinoy ingenuity and resourcefulness. Left over chicken and pork adobo are usually recycled by shredding the meat into pieces and refrying them until brown and crunchy. Its flavor becomes more intense with its longevity, especially when refrigerated and kept in a sealed container. Crispy adobo flakes are perfect to pair with other Filipino dish such as kare-kare (oxtail stewed in peanuts and annatto extract), dinengdeng (mixed exotic vegetables)  and lugaw (rice porridge).
Adobong pusit Photo Credit: Luto ni Lola

  • Adobong pusit (Squid adobo) – This variation uses squids as the main ingredient which are abounding in the provinces situated along the coastline areas. The squid is stewed in traditional soy sauce and vinegar but the ink is not removed giving it a distinct black and rich sauce. It is usually garnished with peppercorns and long green chilies.
Adobong kangkong or Apan-apan adobabo
  • Adobong kangkong or Apan-apan adobabo (Stewed water spinach) – This Ilonggo (native of Iloilo Province) twist uses kangkong (water spinach) as the main component. It is occasionally sprinkled with tulapo or bits of oily pork fat for added flavor.
  • Adobong okra (Lady finger adobo) – This is another healthy variation of adobo which uses okra or lady finger as the star ingredient.
Adobong sitaw

  • Adobong sitaw (String beans adobo) – This version uses sitaw or string beans as the main ingredient. It is usually braised along ground meat pieces and whole boiled eggs but can be transformed into pure vegetarian dish through the addition of tokwa (tofu) instead of meat.
Adobong Palaka Photo Credit: Juan dela Cruz Best Farm Foods

  • Adobong bayawak/ sawa/ daga/ palaka (Stewed monitor lizard, python snake, rice mouse or frog) – These exotic versions are not for the faint of heart as the main ingredients used are anything from monitor lizard, snake or frog which are commonly found in the remote forests and abundant rice fields of the Philippines. These are believed to contain aphrodisiac properties that are known to boost and improve sex drive.
Adobong Uok Photo Credit: Exotic Foods in Pinas

  • Adobong kamaru/ uok/ salagubang (Mole crickets, beetle larvae or june bug adobo style) – Another downright bizarre versions are the use of various insects such as crickets (popular in Pampanga), beetle larvae (Rizal) and june bug (Nueva Ecija) that are commonly harvested in the rice fields or seen thriving in the trees. These are well-liked as pulutan or appetizers in their respective regions.
  • White adobo with foie gras and toasted garlic – This is a typical white adobo made even more decadent, rich and scrumptious with the addition of liver pâté or foie gras (fattened goose liver) and toasted garlic. This modern variation which seems to be a fusion of the Filipino purist version and well-loved French delicacy was popularized by the actress, Janice de Belen. This remarkable twist on the traditional recipe was featured in a Japanese cooking show, “Your Japanese Kitchen”, hosted by Japan’s top culinary expert. De Belen was the first Filipino celebrity chef to guest in the said cooking show.
Red wine pork adobo Photo Credit: Mga Luto ni Dennis at iba pa

  • Red wine pork adobo – This concoction is made distinct and unique with the addition of sweet red wine. More red wine adobo recipes could be found in this blog: Mga Luto ni Dennis at iba pa.

Adobo is, indeed, a hallmark of Philippine cuisine. It is the result of the diverse influences, both regional and historical, that come together in many Filipino dishes. ''Philippine cooking probably reflects history more than a national cuisine,'' says Cecilia Florencio, a nutrition professor at the University of the Philippines in Manila. As the popular local saying goes, Philippine food was prepared by Malay settlers, spiced by the Chinese, stewed by the Spanish and hamburgerized by the Americans. Filipino adobo just sums it all.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 lbs. chicken (any meaty part of your choice), cleaned and cut into adobo chops
  • 1/3 cup cane or white vinegar
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pieces tuyong dahon ng laurel (dried bay leaves)
  • 1 tsp. peppercorns
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. sugar
  • cooking oil (optional)
Chinese traders were the ones who introduced the soy sauce as seasonings to the Philippine cuisine.
Adobo usually require the meat cutlets to be marinated from 1 hr to overnight to let the flavors be absorbed by meat.
PROCEDURE:

Option 1
  1. Combine the vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, salt and sugar in a saucepan. Add in the chicken chops and toss until the marinade mixture is evenly distributed.
  2. Soak the chicken to marinate for 1 hour to overnight.
  3. After marinating, add water just enough to submerge the chicken pieces. Place the saucepan over stove and bring to boil on high heat. Do not stir when it is not yet boiling.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and let it simmer covered for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally and add more water if necessary.
  5. Uncover and simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the sauce is reduced depending on your preference and the chicken is fork tender. Adjust the salt, soy sauce or sugar according to your taste.
  6. Remove from heat and serve with hot steamed rice. Enjoy!

Option 2
  1. Combine the vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, salt and sugar in a large container. Add in the chicken chops and toss until the marinade mixture is evenly distributed.
  2. Soak the chicken to marinate for 1 hour to overnight.
  3. After marinating, heat enough cooking oil on a medium saucepan. Lightly fry in the chicken chops for 3 to 5 minutes until all sides turn light brown.
  4. Pour in the marinade mixture and add water just enough to submerge the chicken pieces. Bring to a boil over high heat. Do not stir when it is not yet boiling.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium and let it simmer covered for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally and add more water if necessary.
  6. Uncover and simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the sauce is reduced depending on your preference and the chicken is fork tender. Adjust the salt, soy sauce or sugar according to your taste.
  7. Remove from heat and serve with hot steamed rice. Enjoy!

**Number of Servings: 4 to 5

Filipino adobo is best served with hot steamed rice.

TIPS FROM ENZ:
  1. If you want a saucier adobo, you may add more vinegar, soy sauce or water as necessary and remove from heat when the chicken is tender.
  2. If you want a drier and more flavorful spin, just continue simmering to reduce the sauce until the chicken begins to fry on its own fat.
  3. You may use any chicken part of your choice. I prefer the meaty breast, thigh and leg part. You can also have native brown chicken if you want it more flavorful and tasty, but you have cook the meat longer as the meat of native chicken is tougher.
  4. You may also add quartered potatoes to your chicken or pork adobo if you desire.

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1 comments

  1. Tried it and it was a deliciously good adobo. Easy to follow recipes, thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete

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