Chicken and Pork Adobo

Another iconic Filipino dish is the Chicken and Pork Adobo. When the word has its Spanish origins, it is very different from what it means in Spain than what it means to a Filipino. In Spain, the word comes from “Adobar” which means “soaking raw meat in a marinade to enhance the flavour”. Ask any Filipino and they would give you an entirely different explanation which would be mostly that it is a dish that is cooked in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaf and peppercorns. While there are different spins to this dish from my country’s oh-so-many regions, what is common is that every Filipino embraces it as the unofficial national dish, finding comfort at its flavours and taste.

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Even if I am here in Toronto for a while now, it is still a dish that I have regularly. I normally cook it in a big batch and save the rest for later. The dish could hold itself for a long time and the flavour actually gets better and better over time. Even with my own recipe, I tend to like it two ways. There are days that I like it to be saucy, smothering fresh steamed rice with its salty gravy to whet my appetite. And then there are days that I reduce the sauce to completely dry it up, concentrating that salty, garlicky flavour to bits and eating it kamayan style.

I find that it is the most memorable dish that non-Filipinos remember trying in a Filipino household. I am often asked where they can find a Filipino restaurant so they can have the dish once again. So if you want to try it, here is my own personal recipe of Chicken and Pork Adobo.

Chicken and Pork Adobo Recipe
1 1/2 lbs (6 – 8 pcs) chicken thighs or chicken legs, bone-in and skin-on
1 1/2 lbs (approximately 650 grams) pork belly, chopped in cubes
1 medium onion, diced
1 head garlic, minced
2 cups water
3/4 cup vinegar, white or sugar cane
1/2 cup soy sauce (preferably Marca Pina or Silver Swan brand)
3 pieces dried bay leaves
2 teaspoons whole peppercorn
3 tablespoons cooking oil

In a deep sauce pan or wok, heat 3 tablespoons of oil and sear the meat enough to give a crust and texture to the chicken and pork cubes. Put the seared chicken and pork aside. Sauté the diced onions and minced garlic.
Add the seared pork and chicken back to the pan. Add 2 cups of water, 3/4 cup of vinegar, 1/2 cup of soy sauce, bay leaves and peppercorns. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes or until meat is tender. Serve Chicken and Pork adobo with freshly steamed rice.

Adobo flakes option:
Set aside cooked chicken and pork adobo pieces and mince to smaller pieces. Cook further in about 1/3 cup adobo sauce until sauce runs dry. This would really concentrate the flavours of the dish. As you reduce the sauce, it is also a good idea to add more minced garlic according to your preference. This would then be what we Pinoys call as adobo flakes. 🙂

Pinoy Tip:
Filipino Soy Sauce brands Marca Pina and Silver Swan is saltier than the more popular Japanese brand Kikkoman. Kikkoman has a degree of sweetness that can alter the taste of adobo.

Of course you can use just chicken or just pork, depending on what your favourite is. The combination of the other ingredients remain the same if you use the same amount of meat. I hope you can find comfort with this dish like we do. It is a piece of home that I would not part no matter where I go.

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