Much Adobo About Nothing

Chicken adobo and rice

It’s true what they say when they say that the stomach has a direct connection to the heart because when I start to feel homesick, I cook something familiar.

I don’t usually post Filipino dishes because most of them are so easy. In addition, families have their own recipes that veer slightly off. A pinch of something here. A little of something there. There are a few variables that make each version different and unique. For chicken adobo, the national dish of the Philippines, my version is fairly simple and straight forward. It’s comprised of vinegar, soy sauce, peppercorns, garlic, ginger and chicken thighs.

Pouring in the soy sauce/vinegar mixture

I take some extra effort and brown the chicken skin until slightly brown. I then add the rest of the ingredients into my dutch oven and cook until the chicken is done. The remaining sauce is a key component and is poured over rice. I place the liquid in a separate container until the fat floats to the top (it’s then easily disposed). The rest of the liquid is placed back with the chicken which has been shredded — mostly for Paul’s sake. He doesn’t usually doesn’t eat chicken off the bone.

Fat separated

Other variations include using pork instead of chicken, adding dried bay leaves or using Silver Swan coconut vinegar. Despite all the differences, one thing in common among all the recipes is that once cooked, the adobo should be served over hot, white rice. The rice makes a nice, blank palette against the slightly acidic dish.

Chicken Adobo

8 chicken thighs or 1 chicken cut-up
1/2 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup white vinegar
1 whole garlic, cloves peeled and crushed
8 peppercorns
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, cut into thin slivers
2 tablespoons cooking oil

Rinse and dry chicken pieces and set aside.

Heat oil in large, heavy bottom pot on medium high. When hot, place the chicken pieces skin side down to brown for few minutes. When chicken skin has browned, add soy sauce, vinegar, garlic cloves, peppercorns, ginger to pot. Heat until boiling. Reduce to medium-low and cover with lid for 45 minutes to an hour until tender.

Remove chicken and skim fat. Continue to heat liquid until thick for about 10 minutes.

Serve over rice.

9 thoughts on “Much Adobo About Nothing

Add yours

  1. hi darlene! welcome back! : )

    nice to see that you also use ginger in your recipe. my mom also does that and adds annatto powder (to make it reddish). i also use a few bay leaves as well as a tiny pinch of whole black or mixed peppercorns; I also add crushed black pepper towards the end. i normally use wings for mine but thighs are also good!

    chicken adobo is one of those no fail Filipino recipes. there’s no way to screw up this dish unless that person can’t read or is a total dumb@$$ in the kitchen. just throw everything in the pot and leave it alone. how hard is that, eh!

    1. The ginger is actually my addition that’s different than my mom’s. I don’t recall us ever adding dried bay leaves to ours growing up. But I like your mom’s idea of adding annatto powder.

      I agree that it’s a no fail recipe!

  2. Hi Darlene, awesome I’m going to have to try your version soon! I remember my sister teaching me how to do her version (no idea where she learned it from). Ours had a whole onion (sliced 1/4″ thick) in it and everything was reduced to a rich thick goopy consistency. SO GOOD Over Rice.. Is it more authentic for adobo to be on the lighter side? I’ll have to try it with ginger and garlic cloves..

    1. Heh. Onions would not fly in our house! I waver between a thicker sauce or the lighter version. But to thicken it up, I would skim the fat off first and reduce the remaining liquid until thick for about 10 minutes or so. I edited the recipe to include a thicker sauce.

      Garlic is so important! Ginger is just an option I do. Another is using bay leaves as Canine Cologne does.

  3. hi dennis and darlene
    ginger is a variation, same with the annatto powder. i’ve always made mine with bay leaves. as for garlic, i’m with you darlene! A WHOLE HEAD OF IT!!!!! not 4 or 5 wimpy cloves like i’ve seen in some recipes. it’s so important to have garlic in this dish.

    about onions – i’ve recently started making my adobo with sliced onions. my mom doesn’t do it but a friend did and it made it somehow “sweeter”. also, sliced potato. absorbs the salt. tastes good too.

    there are also diff’t schools of thought with “dry” vs. “wet” adobo. i like mine inbetween. I don’t like soupy adobo for sure tho’.

    if you want to go old school, the original way to make adobo is without soy sauce. it’s just vinegar, black peppercorns, salt, and garlic.

  4. OMGoodness! Do I love Chicken Adobo. Haven’t had a good version of it since I was in high school and one of my best friend’s mom made it one night when we had a sleep over. I must try. Or better yet, mmmm… try yours sometime. LOL!

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