Every self respecting Filipino must have an adobo recipe in their repertoire. This dish, along with pansit (a savory noodle dish) and lumpia (fried rolls), is the signature that represents the Philippines outside of it. I find myself cooking this when I am on the homesick side. It delicately balances on the savory and tartness and sometimes, an indulgence simply means smothering steamed rice with the sabaw (sauce).
In the US, access to traditional ingredients is sometimes not that easy so here’s my improvised version with ingredients easily found in the stores. I also like making it with bone-in chicken since it has so much more flavor than skinless and boneless. Don’t shy away from chicken wings (I certainly didn’t!).
Half cup soy sauce or tamari
Half cup red wine vinegar (or the Filipino brand Datung Puti, if you can get it)
A pinch of ground black pepper or about ten pieces of whole black peppercorn
2-3 cloves of garlic, smashed with the side of knife, not chopped
1-2 pcs of bay leaves
Chicken. I used chicken wings.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl making sure you coat the chicken with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. The longer the better.
Heat up some olive oil in a pan and cook the chicken until browned. Add the garlic from the marinade and cook for about a minute.
Add about half a cup of the marinade and a quarter cup of water. Cover the pan and don’t open the lid for a bout ten minutes. My grandma used to say that this cooks the vinegar. I’m not sure what that means, but I do as she says anyway.
The sauce would have thickened after ten minutes. Taste. If you prefer more sauce add the remainder of the marinade, but keeping in mind to add an equal amount of water to make sure it doesn’t get too salty.
Taste and if it’s still too salty to your liking, add water a little at a time. For a thicker sauce, dilute a teaspoon of cornstarch in a quarter cup of water instead and add to your sauce. Stir and correct seasoning.
Serve hot with steamed rice and an over easy egg, if you desire. I like using pea shoots or kale for garnish to get some color in there.