Chicken Adobo is a classic Filipino dish that is typically served with steamed rice at least once a week in most homes. Everyone loves it everywhere you go. It is comfort food for Filipinos. And each town has their own slight variation on how they prepare the dish.
When I was growing up in the Philippines, my mother and grandmother would drop all chicken and flavorings in a pot and let it simmer away for one hour. I loved their chicken adobo! They use local coconut vinegar because that is what’s available to them. Here in the US, I use rice vinegar because that’s the closest thing and for its mild flavor.
As an adult, I found myself making a slightly different version of chicken adobo. It’s my love for cooking that makes me experiment on how I can make food even better.
The method I use is the same way I cook a stew which involves browning the meat first. (I wonder what my mother or sisters would say if they learn I’m doing it this way). This step gives the dish a rich, deeper flavor. The flavorings are mostly the same, except that I add a little bit of Worchestershire sauce. For me, this step balances out the tangy vinegar and the salty soy sauce.
Then I also sauté the onion and garlic in oil first as a flavor base rather than dropping these ingredients at the same time in the pot. (My mother did not use onion, just garlic)
One of the variations of chicken adobo that I remember from my childhood is when dried banana blossoms are added to the flavorings. It has a distinct sweet aroma that takes the flavor to another level. And some people add a lot more garlic and whole peppercorns to the dish.
These days I still cook chicken adobo with steamed rice for my family. It has become one of our comfort foods that we crave for. Even my foreign friends love it. It’s an ode to my childhood in every bite.
Filipino Chicken Adobo
- 5 chicken thighs
- 5 chicken drumsticks
- 8 garlic cloves chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- ½ onion chopped
- 3 Tbsp plain rice vinegar
- 4 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp worchestershire sauce
- 2 Tbsp olive oil or canola oil
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- salt to taste
- Rinse chicken pieces with water and dry it with paper towels. Season chicken lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a skillet or Dutch oven on medium/high. When oil is hot, brown chicken for 5 minutes on both sides. Do this process in batches. When all of the chicken are browned, transfer them onto a platter. Then lower heat to medium.
- Saute onion in skillet for 4 minutes until translucent. Stir in garlic and saute for another 1 minute. Add in the soy sauce, rice vinegar, Worchestershire sauce, bay leaves and the chicken. Make sure the chicken is laid in 1 layer. Season with more freshly ground pepper. Cover and let simmer for 25 minutes on medium/low heat. Remove cover and flip over the chicken pieces. Cover again and continue simmering for another 20 minutes. Serve with steamed rice.