Saturday, July 20, 2013

Mad Gourmet's Chicken Adobo Recipe

Being Filipino, I recently had a craving for chicken adobo. I thought that instead of buying it from our nearby Filipino eateries, I would be adventurous and cook it myself.

Chicken Thigh Adobo
First Attempt was not bad: Love the seared chicken skin
I’ve never cooked adobo at all. When my mom used to cook it all the time and we have a good number of Filipino eateries around us. Why mess with a good thing if it is available. However, most of these eateries probably do not use the best ingredients (I doubt that they use EVOO – I can just hear “my husband say what is that?”)

So for a change, I did not consult Google first. I have a wealth of sources for adobo, so I asked to my friends on how to make it. All of them gave me great tips: use peppercorns, use sugar instead of honey, some vinegars are stronger than others so more sugar may be added. So now I have an idea on how to do this.

The one thing that my sources did not give me was proportion: they just said soy, vinegar, sugar but not how much. I found this chicken adobo recipe in, so I used it as a base for measurements.

Skinless, Boneless Chicken adobo thighs with Seasonal Vegetables
Second attempt: Trying to elevate the plating a bit
On the choice of vinegar, I remember that we only had one or two choices for vinegar in the Philippines. My mom mostly used coconut vinegar. I had a lot of vinegar at home, but not this. I opted to use my mildest vinegar – Japanese rice vinegar. Perhaps, my next trip to the Filipino grocery store, I will pick up a bottle.

For my first batch, I used boned skinned chicken thighs. This worked really well, but it took a lot longer to cook. After the thighs were simmered, I put the thighs back in oil to get a good sear.

For my second batch, I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs. This was a healthier option and much easier to cook. We were both hungry, so we did not opt for a sear this time.


Mad Gourmet’s Chicken Adobo
Recipe makes about 3 servings

  • 6 Chicken Thighs
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, unsweetened (see note below)*
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar (see note below)*
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • Garlic Powder, to taste
  • Black Peppercorns (start with about 1 tsp and see if you want more)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves

* If you can only find sweetened rice wine vinegar, you can omit the sugar.

  1. Place chicken pieces in a large bowl. Pour vinegar and soy sauce over chicken, and season with ground black pepper and garlic powder to taste. Toss to coat. (If you can, marinate for at least 3 hours)
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and sweat the garlic.
  3. Place marinated chicken pieces in hot oil. Add bay leaves and peppercorns. Cook chicken pieces until they are no longer pink and juices run clear. Some of the marinade will come from the chicken, and I found that this was enough for our dish.
  4. (Optional step) Heat oil in a separate skillet and put the chicken thighs a few minutes. Cook just enough to add a good sear to the chicken.
  5. Serve with rice and veggies.


Overall, this was a pretty good chicken adobo. Even my hubby gave it a thumbs up. I wanted to elevate the plating and make it a bit healthier, so I served it with brown rice (I would serve it with brown rice-quinoa blend, but I ran out of quinoa). I added a side of seasonal veggies to make it a more balanced meal. I only put pepper on the veggies, because I figured that the soy sauce would be salty enough.

I also was hoping that when the marinade reduces, I could get a good sear on the chicken pieces. Unfortunately, this did not happen. So, I had to cheat and put them in a separate pan. I may also half the marinade next time.

I found this recipe after I made my second batch from (translate “Filipino taste”). This site provides great information on what adobo is to Filipinos. I may incorporate components of this recipe in my next batch.

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