Chicken Adobo is one of those staple dishes you’ll find at any Filipino gathering, and one of my favorites growing up. It’s a versatile dish in that it is perfect to feed to a crowd, but also perfect for an easy weeknight meal. Chicken Adobo is a simple dish with really strong flavor, using just garlic, soy sauce and vinegar.
When I was a kid my mom would take me to Filipino potlucks, and it was common to find four or five adobo dishes on the table, but they all tasted different (mom would always comment that hers was the best). That’s the tricky thing about adobo…the soy sauce to vinegar ratio. Some people like it salty with less vinegar, and others—like me—prefer it on the spicy, vinegary side. After years of practice and experimenting with making adobo, I think I have finally mastered it to where even my mom’s Filipino friends say it’s the best they’ve ever tasted!
I use a Filipino spicy vinegar with chili peppers to add an extra kick, which can be found at Asian grocery stores.
I also add in dried lily flowers (sounds weird, I know, but really delicious!) in the last 10 minutes of cooking because that’s how my mom taught me to make it, but it will still taste great without it.
You can really “adobo” anything, including vegetables, but it’s traditionally made with pork or chicken. Adobo is a very forgiving dish, so if you find you don’t like the soy sauce to vinegar ratio in this recipe, you can add one or the other to adjust it to your taste. You can also add water to dilute the sauce to your taste if it’s too strong.
Try it, and let me know what you think!
2 tsp. canola oil
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup spiced vinegar
6 pieces chicken legs or thighs (bone in)
1 cup water
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion, chopped
fresh cracked pepper
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup dried lily flowers (optional, and can be found only at an Asian grocery)
In a large pot, add canola oil and brown chicken pieces over medium-high heat. Turn heat down to medium and add onion; saute a few minutes. Add soy sauce and vinegar, water, garlic and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low so the sauce just simmers, cover and cook until meat is tender and falling off the bone. This can take up to an hour so if you’re short on time, you can throw all the ingredients into a slow cooker in the morning and cook on low until you get home from work! If using lily flowers, add in the last 10 minutes of cooking. Add fresh cracked pepper, and serve chicken over rice with lots of adobo sauce! (To make the dish healthier, I served over red rice with steamed snow peas and baby bok choy). Serves 2-3.