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The Filipino Chicken Adobo: A Dish from the Philippines

Updated on November 16, 2019
davrowpot profile image

Darius is a 5th year college student that has been taught by his mom and dad to cook delicious meals for the family.

The Filipino Adobo: A Dish Beloved by Everyone

When I was starting my first year of college I asked my mom if she could teach me to cook at least one Filipino dish that doesn't involve frying or just leaving to boil and the Filipino adobo was one of those dishes.

If you're a Filipino and ever wondered "that's not how you cook adobo", well to tell you the truth, there aren't any exact ways of cooking the dish. Every family, chef, or cook has their own way to prepare and cook the dish I believe that it will always come out with the same tastes and same delicious results. I do think that the only difference would be the ingredients used and how it's prepared.

If you're not from the Philippines but are interested in how to cook this dish, you're in luck! With a little research on other people's recipes and my basic knowledge of preparing the dish, I'm sure you'll ace this even in your first try.

Now I'll be reminding you of the tips, do's and don'ts, alternatives, and the processes in cooking this dish based on how I cook it. You can also check out a bunch of recipes online in you're hesitant, but I'll do my best to elaborate on each piece of this puzzle to teach how to cook such a delicious dish.

The Filipino Chicken Adobo cooked in a pot.
The Filipino Chicken Adobo cooked in a pot. | Source

Table of Contents

  1. Brief History
  2. Filipino vs Spanish/Latin American Adobo
  3. Ingredients
  4. Cooking Time
  5. General Cooking Instructions
  6. Nutrition
  7. Things to Remember
  8. Alternatives and Variants

1. A Brief History of Adobo

The word "adobo" comes from the Spanish word "adobar" which means marinade, sauce, or seasoning. During the Philippines' Pre-colonial period, the people's main ingredients for cooking are vinegar and salt. This is to keep them fresh longer because of the tropical climate of the country. When the Spanish Empire colonized the country in the late 16th century and early 17th century, they encountered the adobo cooking process. The Spanish also applied the term adobo to any native dish that was marinated before consumption. Dishes prepared with vinegar, garlic, salt (later soy sauce), and other spices eventually came to be known solely as adobo, with the original term for the dish now lost to history.

2. The Differences Between Other Culture's Adobos

Main Ingredients
Similar Ingredients
Does not have or isn't cooked with
Soy Sauce
Black Peppers
Bay Leaves
Filipino Adobo vs Spanish/Latin American Adobo

At home, whenever Chicken Adobo is the main course of the meal, I am in charge of cooking it. This recipe is based on how I cook and prepare it. It's always better to have this paired with white, soft, cooked rice during meals. Since there are four people in our home, I'm going to make this for four people.

3. Ingredients for Chicken Adobo

  • 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs) chicken, cut or sliced to serving pieces
  • 100 to 120 mL (3.5 to 4.2 ounces) soy sauce, around 8 to 9 tablespoons
  • 30 to 50 mL (1 to 1.8 ounces) vinegar, around 3 to 5 tablespoons
  • 4 to 5 cloves of garlic, crushed and sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 piece ginger, sliced
  • 1 to 1 and 1/2 teaspoons sugar, white or brown
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups water
  • 3 to 4 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon cooking oil, vegetable or olive
Chicken Adobo Ingredients
Chicken Adobo Ingredients | Source

4. Estimated Cooking Time of Chicken Adobo

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 40 min
Ready in: 50 min
Yields: Serves four people 1kg/2.2lbs of cooked chicken ad

5. General Instructions for Cooking Chicken Adobo

  1. Clean the cut chicken pieces with water twice or thrice and drain all the water after. Put it in a large bowl and let it rest.
  2. Heat a cooking pot or a deep frying pan on low to medium flame. Put the cooking oil and wait until it is hot enough.
  3. Put the crushed and sliced garlic first and have it sautéed. Do not toast them. After that, put the sliced onions and stir fry them again. Wait until the garlic is almost golden brown or until you can smell their fragrance. After that, put the sliced ginger and stir fry them all until the garlic and onions are brown or cooked.
  4. From the large bowl, gently put all of the sliced chicken and stir fry them for a short while. Leave them for at least five to eight minutes until the chicken pieces ooze their juices or stock. After that, stir them again for a little bit, flip some of the pieces, and make sure that the sides are being cooked and leave them again for at least five minutes. Do this at least three times until you can see or smell the chicken boil in its own broth. Have them simmer for a few more minutes.
  5. Gently add all the water, along with the soy sauce, salt, black pepper, and sugar. Leave them to simmer for at least 25 to 30 minutes or until the chicken is tender. Add the bay leaves and have it simmer to boil for another three to five minutes.
  6. Gently add the vinegar all over the dish and have it simmer for at least three to six more minutes.
  7. Turn off heat and have it cool off for at least five minutes. Bring a plate, preferably with white rice, serve and enjoy.
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Chicken Adobo is best paired with cooked ricePork Adobo, sometimes cooked with pineapplesString Beans with Pork Belly Adobo for those who love beansSquid Adobo with a tangy long green chilliWater Spinach Adobo for those who love their greens
Chicken Adobo is best paired with cooked rice
Chicken Adobo is best paired with cooked rice | Source
Pork Adobo, sometimes cooked with pineapples
Pork Adobo, sometimes cooked with pineapples | Source
String Beans with Pork Belly Adobo for those who love beans
String Beans with Pork Belly Adobo for those who love beans | Source
Squid Adobo with a tangy long green chilli
Squid Adobo with a tangy long green chilli | Source
Water Spinach Adobo for those who love their greens
Water Spinach Adobo for those who love their greens | Source

6. Filipino Adobo Alternatives and Variations

This chicken adobo is always best paired with cooked rice. You can also add hard boiled eggs to it. Chicken may be the most famous main ingredient, but the Filipino adobo can be cooked with pork, beef, shrimp, eggplants, bamboo shoots, and squid. In other regions of the country, mostly in the rural areas and provinces, adobo is cooked with frogs mole crickets (cleaned and fried) and the taste and deliciousness is almost the same as with chicken. For vegetarians, adobo can be cooked with eggplants, boiled potatoes, and legumes.

8. Important Notes for Cooking Chicken Adobo

Above is another recipe from a how chef on how to cook Chicken Adobo the "easy" way. Many Filipinos are often "competitive" when it comes to adobo, saying that their recipe is better than the others, but all in all — after you have finished cooking and serving it and savor its perfect balance of saltiness, sweetness, and sourness — it will make you feel as if you're visiting the, or you're in, Philippines yourself. (Make sure to turn the subtitles on).

  1. Remember that I am not a professional chef, but my mom and dad are the "professionals" when it comes to cooking in the house and I just learned how to cook from them. I still have a long way to go when it comes to cooking.
  2. Always check the taste of the sauce. If it's too salty, add just a bit more water. If it's too bland, add a little more soy sauce and sugar. Always have that balance of the taste.
  3. Always check if there's still sauce in the adobo. There are variations of adobo where you reduce the volume of the sauce but for me, the sauce is what makes Filipino adobo an adobo.
  4. If the sauce has been completely reduced, just add at least 1/4 cup of water and one to two tablespoon of soy sauce and sugar. If you think you added too much water or if you think that it has too much sauce, place the excess in a small bowl. It's a just-in-case if you're sauce is completely reduced.
  5. You can stir it while it's simmering or boiling. But, as for my father's words, do not stir it after you add the vinegar because "it may ruin the taste of the adobo."
  6. Bay leaves are quite optional to put when I cook my adobo. Salt is optional, too, because all the salty taste will be coming from the soy sauce.
  7. There are variations of Chicken adobo where you marinate the chicken first before actually cooking it. You can marinate it for at least one hour (or longer) in soy sauce, sugar, black pepper, salt, and garlic and you have to use that marinate as the dish's sauce as well.
  8. If you guys have any questions, do comment down and I'll try my best to answer them. If you're a Filipino and have your own way, tips, or tricks of cooking adobo, let me know it so I can try it myself (smile).

© 2019 Darius Razzle Paciente


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    • davrowpot profile imageAUTHOR

      Darius Razzle Paciente 

      6 weeks ago from Taguig City, NCR, Philippines

      Thanks @Peggy! There are Filipino restaurants and cuisines that offer Filipino adobo. Or, if by chance you visit the Philippines, this is an always must have.

    • davrowpot profile imageAUTHOR

      Darius Razzle Paciente 

      6 weeks ago from Taguig City, NCR, Philippines

      Thank you @Tashaney! It smells even appetising and better if someone is cooking this in your home. In our neighborhood, sometimes I could smell that they're cooking adobo and would just want to cook one myself, hahahah!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      6 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      This looks and sounds delicious. I wish I had some to eat right now. Thanks for your recipe.

    • Tashaney profile image

      Tashaney Hibbert-Jones 

      6 weeks ago from London

      I can legitimately smell this through the screen. It looks tantalizing...


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