If there is a dish that the Philippines is known for it’s got to be Adobo. While the word “Adobo” certainly has Spanish origins (the Philippines has been colonized by Spain for nearly 400 years), this particular cooking method and dish is indigenous to the Philippines.
The word “Adobo” means marinade, sauce or seasoning in Spanish. Since the Filipino Adobo requires stewing/braising the meat in Vinegar (like marinating), the term adobo eventually became the household name for the dish or this style of cooking.
Naturally, everyone has their own version of Adobo. I have mine, too. My husband loves this version of classic adobo. I prefer the sweeter Adobo, he prefers the more savory kind of adobo. Feel free to adjust the measurements to your taste. This is how I like it exactly (see measurements below) but you can add more vinegar or soy sauce to accommodate your taste preference. You can also choose to make the adobo with a lot of sauce or turn it into a drier adobo – either way it’s truly flavorful. And if you don’t know yet, Adobo tastes even better the next day or days (if you can prevent yourself from gobbling it up the first day.).
By the way, I have to mention that the technique of cooking the vinegar first was something I learned from my friend Monette. I have failed so many times in making adobo but thanks to her teaching me how to do it properly, I have become confident in making my adobo and many who have tasted it have loved the dish.
I have tried this with both Pork and Chicken so feel free to use whichever you prefer. The photos here are quite old but they still show yumminess of the Adobo dish which made the Philippines famous in the culinary world.
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1 kilo/2.2 lbs of either chicken or pork* cutlets or a combination
1/2 (up to 3/4) cup vinegar
1/3 cup water
1/3 (up to 1/2) cup soy sauce
1/2 Head of Garlic, peeled and crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons, Whole Black Peppercorns or to taste (sometimes I use ground)
2 Bay leaves
1-2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar, or to taste (optional)
*If using pork, either use Pork Belly or Pork shoulder.
If you cannot buy the pre-cut Adobo, then chop the pork into bite-sized pieces. If you are using chicken, you can use bigger pieces (like drumstick, thighs) without the need to chop them into smaller chunks.
Place the meat and the rest of the ingredients in a large pan. Using medium heat, bring to a rolling boil. Lower the heat slightly then cook uncovered for about 15 minutes. This is to allow the vinegar to cook properly so it won’t taste so vinegary. Watch carefully as it boils to ensure that the liquid does not dry up.
Cover and then continue to simmer until the meat is tender about 45-minutes to an hour. When the meat is already tender, sprinkle the brown sugar and mix thoroughly. It will just add a little bit of sweetness to the adobo and will also give that delicious caramelized look. You can eat the adobo at this point or wait one day for even better flavor.
If you want extra flavor and prefer the dry adobo, take out the meat and fry them quickly in a little oil. This would make it even yummier. Use the remaining sauce to pour on your rice, if you like. Enjoy!
G'day! That looks absolutely delish, true!
Now is on my list to do!
Thanks, Joanne! Sure hope that you enjoy eating it. 🙂
Adobo is one of my super love dishes. It's so easy and it never goes old. Like you, I also prefer sweeter adobo. I'll try your technique though about the vinegar. I also love adobo with some potatoes cut into medium cubes.
Yup, it's a great technique. This way your Adobo won't taste like paksiw. Thanks for stopping by Micole!
I have a Filipina girlfriend now, after many years of Chinese and thus cooking. Guess I should try this now, haha!
Yes, please do and enjoy it with your Pinay girlfriend Lau! Glad you stopped by.
Thank you so much for this recipe! I made it last night and it turned out fabulous!
Thank you so much, I am so glad you enjoyed my favorite Adobo. 🙂
Hi, I made this recipe yesterday and really enjoyed it. I only had boneless, skinless chicken breasts, so I know it will be even better with pork belly/shoulder next time. I also think I will lower the amount of brown sugar and increase the soy sauce to suit my taste – thanks for those options! Question: How deep should the liquid be compared to the meat in the cooking pot? Should I add more water? The liquid barely covered the meat when I started, and it lowered of course as it cooked. Thanks again!
I use only about 1/3 cup as suggested in the recipe as I feel it dilutes the taste when you add more but feel free to adjust it to your liking. If you use pork belly/ shoulder next time, since it will render its fat, perhaps there's no need for extra water.
Hi Abby. I will try your recipe for chicken and pork adobo. This will be a new version for me. I will let you know how it turns out. My American neighbor friend wants to taste it too.
Hey, So I made this recipe except I used chicken breasts. It turned out to be very yummy, even had left overs and still as great. The only thing is, it was really really spicy not to sure why or if that's how it was supposed to be. I added the 2 tablespoons of brown sugar as well.
I suspect you must have added a lot of peppercorns. The recipe calls for about 1 up to 1 1/2 teaspoons but that should be for whole peppercorns. If you wish to use ground black pepper instead of the whole ones, adjust it to taste and not the whole 1 1/2 teaspoons as that would be too peppery. Other than that, I see no reason why it should be spicy. So sorry for the confusion.
Hi Abby – Just found your site via Pinterest! This recipe looks easy and delicious. What kind of vinegar do you use for this recipe (white, apple cider)?
I usually use the Filipino brand but if you cannot find it, white vinegar would be the nearest one. Please enjoy!
The Pinoy brand is Datu Puti and can be found in Asian grocery stores.
Hi Abby – I've tried this recipe before, and loved it. I am doing a little research and combining some shiitake mushrooms from your Chinese adobe recipe. I also added a little star anise, and some onions, too. I let you know how it turns out. Thanks!
This sounds like a delicious version of adobo. I must say, though, please remove the bay leaves before serving, so you don't have an unfortunate accident (throat laceration).
how is the vinegar cooking first when you mix all ingredients all at the same time?
It just means you allow the vinegar to be cooked and so it won’t be so overwhelming.
Does the cooking liquid need to cover chicken? (using bone in thighs and legs) making now and it barely goes to half, I’m thinking it will reduce also. If this is not enough liquid, do I double amounts or just add water to increase? Thank you
In my experience, there’s no need to add water because the chicken as it cooks would also release some juices. Just cook it slowly in low heat and covered (after vinegar has been cooked for a few minutes) so it doesn’t dry up. However, some prefer a dryer adobo as opposed to a saucier version. Also, adding extra water may dilute the taste.