If you’re craving something garlicky and zesty tonight, look no further than the famous dish from the Philippines, chicken adobo. Chicken adobo is the unofficial national food of the Philippines due its versatility, its ease of preparation and the fact that it can easily fit in to any household regardless of their income.
This versatile, easy-to-make chicken adobo recipe is inexpensive to serve, plus the poultry can be swapped out for another meat—like pork, veggies or shrimp—depending on the type of eaters you have at your house. This Filipino chicken adobo is a pared down recipe (meaning you won’t overpower the natural taste of the meat), making it quick and simple for any busy weeknight. And keep in mind that if white meat chicken breasts aren’t your favorite, this recipe could also work with dark meat legs and thighs, though these might take a bit longer to cook.
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What is adobo chicken?
A chicken adobo recipe is basically a stew that’s made by simmering poultry parts, along with potatoes, in a savory mixture of garlic, black pepper, soy sauce and vinegar. Some versions call for marinating the protein overnight for extra flavor. This national dish of the Philippines also has roots in spice mixes from Mexico and around the Caribbean and can be prepared with fish, vegetables or other meat. Filipino chicken adobo is considered a classic national dish and there are many regional varieties prepared all over this island nation in the Pacific.
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Tips to improve your chicken adobo
You can’t go wrong if you follow this easy recipe, but there are ways to amp up the flavor of this dish. For starters, if you can get your hands on humanely-raised organic chicken, your chicken adobo will taste that much better. Marinating the meat for a few hours takes more time, as does browning the bone-in breasts before you braise them in the liquid, but both of these steps deepen the taste profile here. And since vinegar and soy sauce are the two main components, it’s worth it to spend a little more on these ingredients. White vinegar is often the go-to, but you can substitute what you have, such as red wine or apple cider vinegar.
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Best accompaniments for Filipino chicken adobo
While this chicken adobo recipe is all about the tangy, slightly sweet stewed meat that results from the slow simmer, serving it with a side dish is a must. A type of rice is typical, whether yellow or white, in part to soak up all of the yummy sauce and juice from the chicken, but you could also offer mashed potatoes, farro or another grain. A bright, tart salad is a lovely accompaniment as is a tangy slaw, broccoli salad or asparagus with lemon butter. This recipe calls for a fried egg atop the rice on the side, as well as sliced scallions to garnish, though fresh herbs like chopped cilantro, parsley or chives are other worthy options.
How to make chicken adobo
Step 1: Gather Adobo sauce seasonings and ingredients
Step 2: Prepare the yellow rice
In a thick-bottomed pan, add the rice and rinse it thoroughly (at least three times).
Then, add 2 ½ cups of water along with sugar, salt, chicken granules, white & black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, scallions, yellow food dye and butter. Stir all of the ingredients into the rice, making sure everything is dissolved and well incorporated.
Bring the rice to a boil and quickly set the heat back to low heat and allow the rice to cook for 25 minutes. (No matter how tempting it is, do not remove the cover to peek inside or your rice will not cook properly!)
Step 3: Chop and season the chicken
Prepare the split chicken breast by chopping into serving size pieces.
Place chopped chicken pieces in cooking pot and season with black and white pepper, bay leaves, and garlic.
Pour in soy sauce, vinegar, and water with the chicken mix. Cover and bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to medium for 15 minutes.
Step 4: Add potatoes to the sautéing chicken
After 15 minutes, add the quartered potatoes and mix it well making sure the potatoes are submerged into the sauce mix of the adobo.
Allow the potatoes to cook for about 7 minutes, or until potatoes are ¾ of the way cooked, then remove them from the pan and set it aside.
Step 4: Stir constantly while adobo sauce thickens
Bring the heat back to high and let the adobo boil to reduce its sauce. When it starts to thicken, make sure to mix it constantly to avoid scorching the bottom of the pan.
Once most of the sauce is reduced, add the potatoes back and lower the heat to finish cooking the potatoes while carefully stirring the pan during this last part of the cooking process.
Step 5: Serve, garnish and enjoy!
Plate your piping hot chicken adobo recipe with a scoop of yellow rice, or you can use white rice if you prefer. Top with a fried egg over easy for an extra bit of flavor.
Interested in other dishes from the Philippines? Check out these nine different Filipino dessert recipes for the sweetest ending ever.