I first learned to make Chicken Adobo from Hilda, a close friend of my mom's, who told amazing stories of her WWII years hiding out in the mountains of the Philippines with her physician father and family, always keeping one step ahead of the invading army. It is the fastest chicken preparation I know of and I always have on hand the 5 ingredients it requires. I love the play between the deep complex soy sauce flavors and the tart vinegar, with the underlying notes of garlic, bay leaf and black pepper spice. Because it is the Phillipine National Dish, there are endless variations. Sub coconut milk; add mangoes or okra; experiment!
I have adapted this recipe from Hilda's and one by E. Zamula of Potomac, Md. in an old Gourmet. —LeBec Fin
- Serves 2
chicken thighs, skin on and bone-in; extra fat pockets or skin flaps removed
Japanese soy sauce
whole bay leaves
whole black peppercorns
- Beginning with skin side down, sear chicken in hot oil til lightly browned on both sides. Add vinegar through peppercorns, bring to a simmer, cover and cook 15 minutes. Uncover, turn thighs over, simmer about 15 minutes til chicken is done. Serve with plenty of sauce over rice.
- If you want a thicker sauce, remove chicken from pot.Add cornstarch to water and stir with your fingers til smooth. Add to pot, stir to combine and bring to boil so sauce thickens.Turn down heat, return chicken to pot , spooning sauce over, and serve.
- Serve with lots of rice!
- Note: Because this is the national dish of the Philippines, there are hundreds of variations. You can use cider or cane vinegar instead of white vinegar (but some vinegars, like sherry or balsamic, are too strong to substitute 1 for 1.) Most recipes use 2:1 vinegar to soy sauce. Some add more water. Some use coconut milk.
- Note: I usually have some leftover sauce, rich in chicken juices/collagen. It can be frozen and re-used in a new batch, adding ingredients as needed or water to thin.
- Note:Filipinos also make this same recipe with pork chops.