Chicken Adobo Recipe

Chicken Adobo – The Unofficial National Dish of The Philippines

Chicken Adobo is a very popular dish in the Philippines. In fact, adobo is so popular in the Philippines that it has unofficially been called the national dish of the Islands.

chicken adobo

The Philippines market. Photo credit Flickr by Daniel Go

Chicken adobo is basically a dish made up of vinegar mixed with soy sauce and garlic. Chicken is then marinated and slow cooked in the sauce. Sometimes other meats are used as well. Chicken adobo is served over rice and eaten on all occasions whether it be at a normal meal or at special feasts.


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Chicken Adobo Recipe
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Philippines
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
Chicken Adobo – The Unofficial National Dish of The Philippines
  • 40 ml vinegar
  • 80 ml soy sauce
  • 6 cloves garlic crushed
  • 30 g sugar
  • 10 g salt
Other ingredients
  • 100 g onion cut to small pieces
  • 10 g ginger cut to thin slices
  • 2 red chili cut to thin strips
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorn
  • 1.2 kg chicken cut to large pieces
  • 50 ml vegetable oil
For garnishing
  • spring onion
  • red chili
  1. Marinate the chicken with the Marinade as shown in the ingredient list above. Marinate for two hours or longer.
  2. chicken adobo recipe
  3. Heat up the oil in the wok. Saute the onion and ginger until fragrant.
  4. chicken adobo recipe
  5. Put in marinated chicken and brown both sides, about five minutes.
  6. Pour in the remaining marinate int the wok and add some extra water.
  7. chicken adobo recipe
  8. Add the red chili, bay leaves and black peppercorns.
  9. Simmer the chicken slowly for about 20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degree Celsius. Once it is done, remove the chicken from the wok and place it on a serving plate.
  10. chicken adobo recipe
  11. Heat up the remaining marinade in the wok until it becomes slightly thickened.
  12. chicken adobo recipe
  13. Pour the sauce over the chicken.
  14. Garnish with spring onions and thin slices of red chili.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1580g Calories: 2540 Fat: 85g Saturated fat: 20g Carbohydrates: 68g Sugar: 37g Sodium: 9.6g Fiber: 8g Protein: 359g Cholesterol: 929mg


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The Origin Of Adobo

The name “adobo” is obviously of Spanish origin. However, the dish goes back to far before the Spaniards took control of the islands. The indigenous population had been making adobo sauce for quite some time before Spanish colonization.

The method to cook chicken adobo dates all the way back to the “classic” period of the Philippines (between 900 and 1500). The original name of the dish, however, has unfortunately been lost over time and even the native population of the Philippines refers to the dish as adobo.

It seems that the recipe resulted from the practice of preserving meat with vinegar and salt in order for it to keep longer. In fact, it keeps for a long time even without refrigeration. With time soy sauce was introduced by the Chinese and it found its way into the adobo sauce.

In the sixteenth century when the Spanish colonized the Philippines they discovered this delicious process of cooking and obviously liked it enough to name it and write about it. The name they chose, adobo, basically means marinade. However, this form of marinating is quite different from traditional Spanish “adobo”.

Chicken Adobo Is Easy To Prepare

chicken adobo

Crisologo Street,Philippines – Spaniards built these huge houses. This street is now on the world heritage list.
photo credit Flickr by Storm Crypt

The traditional way of preparing chicken adobo was to cook the chicken very slowly in a clay pot using just the right mixture of vinegar, crushed garlic, soy-sauce, bay leaves, and peppercorns. It is more common in our days to use metal woks, however, some still use clay pots over coals.

Even though the basic idea seems simple there are numerous recipes and variants of the sauce. Many Filipino women pride themselves in their “superior’ way of preparing the dish. Many times different members of the very same household will have their own “tricks” on cooking a “better” adobo.

The main ingredient is always vinegar. However, the type of vinegar may often change. This results in a slight change in flavor. In the Philippines Coconut vinegar, cane vinegar, and rice vinegar can all be readily found and one of the three are usually used.

There is a version of chicken adobo that does not use soy sauce and therefore does not take on a black flavor. This is often referred to as adobong puti, or white adobe. This version is considered the closest to the original recipe, before the Chinese introduced soy sauce.

Some choose to use other ingredients, such as hot peppers, red peppers, onions, olive oil, potatoes, or even pineapple for chicken adobo. Some prefer to brown it in the oven before serving it, others deep fry it or grill it. The browning that results really does improve the dish.

There are also differences that can be found in different regional areas. For example, in the Zamboanga, Luzon, and Muslim areas it is common to cook it with coconut milk. In Cavite they even add mashed pork liver! In the Laguna region turmeric is used, this gives the plate a yellow color.

If you have the chance to try out these variation you surely will agree that most of these Asian recipes are delicious! You really should try this wonderful recipe!

Chicken Adobo Recipe was last modified: September 11th, 2017 by KP Kwan

1 Comment

  • KP Kwan

    Reply Reply June 3, 2016

    Hi, this is KP Kwan. I am happy to see you at this comment area, as you have read through my recipe. I am happy to reply any questions and comments as soon as possible.

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