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. —LE BEC FIN
chicken thighs, skin on and bone-in; extra fat pockets or skin flaps removed
Japanese soy sauce
whole bay leaves
whole black peppercorns
In This Recipe
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.
I am always on the lookout for innovative recipes, which is why I am just ga-ga over my recently- discovered Food52 with its amazingly innovative and talented contributors. My particular eating passions are Japanese, Indian, Mexican; with Italian and French following close behind. Turkish/Arabic/Mediterranean cuisines are my latest culinary fascination. My desert island ABCs are actually 4 Cs: citrus, cumin, cilantro, and cardamom.
I am also finally indulging in learning about food history; it gives me no end of delight to learn how and when globe artichokes came to the U.S., and how and when Jerusalem artichokes went from North America to Europe. And that the Americas enabled other cuisines to become glorious. I mean where would those countries be without: Corn, Tomatoes, Chiles,Peanuts, Dried Beans, Pecans, Jerusalem Artichokes??!
While I am an omnivore, I am, perhaps more than anything, fascinated by the the world of carbohydrates, particularly the innovative diversity of uses for beans, lentils and grains in South Indian and other cuisines.
Baking gives me much pleasure, and of all the things I wish would change in American food, it is that we would develop an appreciation for sweet foods that are not cloyingly sweet, and that contain more multigrains. (Wouldn't it be fantastic to have a country of great bakeries instead of the drek that we have in the U.S.?!)
I am so excited by the level of sophistication that I see on Food52 and hope to contribute recipes that will inspire you like yours do me.
I would like to ask a favor of all who do try a recipe of mine > Would you plse write me and tell me truthfully how it worked for you and/or how you think it would be better? I know many times we feel that we don't want to hurt someone's feelings, but. i really do want your honest feedback because it can only help me improve the recipe.Thanks so much.