Filipino Chicken Adobo is a chicken stew slowly braised in white vinegar, garlic, peppercorn or freshly ground pepper, soy sauce and bay leaf.
Adobo is easy and a favorite Filipino stew made with either pork, chicken, beef, seafood or vegetables.
Filipino Chicken Adobo can be prepared with just chicken or a combination of chicken and pork.
Some people add liver and gizzard to adobo while others add potato, hard boiled eggs or vegetables.
Vinegar measurement will vary from one recipe to another. Some like it really sour while others lke it with subtle sweetness.
To counter the sour flavor, some people add a little sugar. Cooking adobo is really a matter of preference when it comes to the taste. Our adobo is not sour nor sweet.
In a typical Filipino household, adobo is paired with white rice. Adobo is described as sour and salty but once added to rice, it is delicious, savory and a perfect match with steam white rice.
It is also a perfect addition to my crunchy salad when I limit my carb intake.
What is Filipino adobo
Adobo is a Filipino cooking method that involves stewing in vinegar. In the old days, vinegar, garlic and salt were used to braised the meat. It has evolved over the years and salt was replaced with soy sauce.
There are many variants of abodo depending on the region and the cooking process within the same region or sometimes within the same household might slightly differ. I cook my chicken adobo slightly different from pork adobo.
Some like to sear and brown the meat before stewing while others braise the meat first, then pan-fried to get crispier edges and added back to the sauce.
Others prefer it saucy especially if they have kids while some like it on the dry side. I prefer the latter wherein sauce is reduced and added back to the pan-fried meat.
Adobo taste much better after a day or so after cooking. Due to vinegar, it keeps well in the hot Philippine climate even without refrigeration. It is common among Filipinos to take it to work or even at picnics.
I don’t think there is a right or wrong way of cooking adobo. LOL, I once received a comment for my pork adobo cooked in an instant pot from a non-Filipino that said “that is not so adobo”.
If she read the blog, it would tell her there’s no one way of cooking adobo. Some people are too quick to judge even without facts on hand. Too bad!
Tips to make adobo
(1) Marinate or not to marinate? Obviously, marinating for at least 30 minutes to an hour makes a delicious adobo dish.
It is one of the Filipino dish I have made many times WITHOUT marinating and has always turned out delicious. When I was working, I don’t have much time that I skip marinating the meat before cooking.
The meat is slowly braised in the ingredients and it picks up all the flavors even without marinating. The meat is slightly fried and added to the reduced, thickened braising liquid.
See for yourself. Again it is a matter of preference.
(2) The 1st thing I learned from my mom when cooking adobo is NOT to cover and stir the mixture before it starts to boil. I let it simmer for at least 3 minutes before I cover with lid.
(3) Any chicken parts will work. In fact, if you are trying to eat healthy, you can remove the skin. But as we all know, adobo is good with some fat. So what I normally do, since I like adobo the following day, the fat will harden when refrigerated. Remove the fat with a spoon before reheating the dish.
(4) Some people like their meat lean. Yes, you can use chicken breast but chicken thighs, legs and wings are much tender and tastier especially when making adobo. I would suggest to add some thighs with chicken breast. Also, Filiipinos use bone-in chicken which adds so much tasty flavor to the sauce.
To make authentic Filipino adobo – Ingredients and Substitutions to Use
(1) White Vinegar – I always use Datu Puti white vinegar but other Filipino brands will do. It is made from cane and labeled “sukang maasim” meaning sour vinegar. This vinegar is sour with no residual sugar.
There are many types of vinegar made in the Philippines from cane, coconut and other palms. In the past, I have used coconut vinegar and cider vinegar and it works perfect.
Some people use rice vinegar or white wine but I have not tried it, so I cannot guarantee if it will taste the same.
Vinegar made in the Philippines are usually found in Filipino or Asian stores.
(2) Soy Sauce – Again, in the old days adobo was made with salt instead of soy sauce. Salt can be a substitute for soy sauce but I prefer the latter.
Once in a while, I substitute 1 tablespoon of soy sauce with 1 tablespoon fish sauce. I love the combination of these condiments and I am a big fish sauce person.
No, fish sauce will not make your dish taste like fish.
Philippines soy sauce is much saltier than their counterpart so instead of using 3 tablespoons, I would reduce it to 2 ½ tablespoons. It is sold in Filipino and Asian stores.
Since living in the US, it is much easier for me to use the Japanese Kikkoman which I get from Costco or Sams. You can use regular soy sauce but I prefer using less sodium soy sauce.
(3) Peppercorn – Authentic Filipino adobo uses peppercorn to braise meat. The only suggestion is to ground the peppercorn before braising. Who likes to bite into a whole peppercorn especially when you have kids.
Also, I find it more tastier when freshly ground.
(3) Bay Leaves – if you don’t have it, it is ok not to have in the dish.
(4) Garlic – I love lots of crushed garlic in my adobo. I am using 1 head garlic to make this dish. You can reduce the garlic to 6 to 8 big garlic cloves.
(5) Chicken – you can use any cut aside from wings. It is common among Filipinos to use chicken thighs and legs but rarely do we use chicken breast. The thighs and legs are tastier and much tender than the breast.
If you don’t care for chicken like my Mom, you can make pork adobo.
3 ways to cook adobo
Depending on my mood, I use the first method or the 2nd method. I don’t use the 3rd cooking process at all.
(1) Braise meat with all the ingredients. After braising, pan fry meat and set aside. Garlic is sauteed until golden, then sauce is added and simmered until reduced and thickened.
(2) After I braise the meat, I shred it like pulled pork then I fry it until crispy. This method of cooking is called flake chicken adobo. The sauce is reduced and serve on the side or poured over the crispy meat.
This is one of my favorite way of making pork adobo. I love it with my salad and great for fried rice too.
(3) Meat is seared and browned, then all the ingredients are added with the meat. It is stewed until meat is cooked through. Meat is removed while reducing the sauce to thicken. Meat is added back to the sauce or sauce is poured over the meat. Again, people have different ways of cooking this dish.
I don’t use this method at all. I know people who does and it is delicious as well. We use the same ingredients just a different way of cooking, usually the way we learned it from our parents.
Filipino Chicken Adobo
- 2 pounds chicken wings
- 1 head garlic minced
- ½ cup white vinegar cane vinegar
- 1 cup water
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 to 3 tablespoons oil
- salt to taste I don't
- Marinate chicken wings in ¾ of minced garlic, freshly ground pepper and soy sauce for least 30 minutes to an hour in the fridge.
- In a skillet, transfer the chicken wings and pour all the ingredients. Add bay leaves, vinegar and water. DO NOT STIR OR COVER. Set the heat on high and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, lower heat to medium and simmer for another 3 minutes. Again, don’t stir or cover.
- After 3 minutes, lower heat to medium-low, cover skillet with lid until chicken is tender. Cook for 25 minutes or until tender.
- Turn off heat. Remove chicken and excess sauce and place in a platter. Segregate the sauce in a bowl.
- On the same skillet, heat oil.
- Add chicken wings in batches depending on how big your skillet is. Pan-fry each side for about 2 minutes or longer depending on your preference to slightly crispy the skin or until golden all around. Set aside in a platter and pan-fry the remaining wings.
- With the remaining oil in the skillet, saute the remaining garlic until golden over medium heat.
- Pour the braising liquid or sauce and cook until reduced to about half and thickened. Note: If you like a more saucy adobo simmer for 5 minutes otherwise it might take 10 to 12 minutes to reduce the sauce.
- Add chicken wings back to the skillet, coat with sauce and cook for a minute. Don’t cook any longer so wings retain its crispiness.
- Turn off heat and transfer to a serving platter. Serve hot with hot white rice.
- Leftover chicken adobo is even tastier and it keeps well. Refrigerate up to 4 days in an air tight container.
- Kept frozen up to a month in a food saver or air tight container.
- You can make adobo with a combination of chicken and pork. You need to adjust the cooking time accordingly. Pork will take longer to cook.