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!