Monday, June 13, 2011

Adobo With a Twist


When my younger sister was due to give birth to her second child a few years back, like a dutiful sister, I flew to Los Angeles to help her out. She was staying in West Covina then. It is comprised of a rich melting pot of Asian communities from Filipinos, Koreans, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese and Malaysians and there was quite a number of native Hawaiians, Samoans and Mexicans.

The apartment my sister lived in was just across a Hawaiian supermarket called Marukai. It was where we would get our groceries because it was convenient, we just had to cross the street. I met a lot of people who became my friends. We shared a lot of our own traditional and local dishes. One such dish I prepared for them was Adobo.

Adobo is derived from the Spanish word meaning ‘seasoning’ or ‘marinade’. Vinegar is a common marinade and dipping sauce that Filipinos use in everyday cooking, that also goes for soy sauce. But the Filipinos have come to distinguish adobo as a specific way of cooking chicken and pork.

For anyone who is Filipino, and for anyone who knows Filipinos, I’m sure adobo is one of the most popular dishes we always let our foreign friends taste. I however find the adobo a tad too salty and plain for my foreign friends. So I added my own twist to it. Traditional Filipino adobo is cooked with chicken and pork. I make mine with just chicken to avoid the fats from the pork. I made it simple and less salty and would please even the most discriminating palate.


1 whole chicken cut into pieces

1 small red onion diced

4 cloves garlic minced

1/2 cup soy sauce

¼ cup vinegar

¼ cup brown sugar

1 tsp cracked black pepper

1 tsp grated ginger

3 dried laurel leaves

Whole hardboiled eggs

Mix all the ingredients with the chicken. Marinate it overnight if possible. If not, an hour should do. After marinating, add about 1 cup of water and boil everything in a pot for about 30 minutes in medium heat, stirring occasionally.

I usually know the dish is ready based on the consistency of the sauce. I make sure the water has evaporated and just leave the sauce to thicken because of the brown sugar. Add hardboiled eggs (allow 1 for every person) and leave it in low heat for another 15minutes. If the sauce looks dried out before the chicken is cooked, just add a bit more water. Serve with steamed white rice.

There are other variations of adobo from other provinces in the Philippines. Some add coconut milk to it, others cook vegetables or fish adobo style. In fact, there is a whole cookbook dedicated to cooking just adobo. But always remember, however way you like it, there’s no other best way to enjoy a perfect meal but to enjoy it your way.

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