Sunday, August 26, 2007


Well, crack the champagne, I think I have finally solved a near 3 year quest that has caused me great pain and discomfort. Yep, I finally figured out how to make “Adobo”…. This seemingly simple dish requires a steady hand, and attention to detail that I have found out through a number of poor examples can easily put this dish on an “Expert only” basis….

So, I will demystify the experience for all here on how I did it.

First, and most obviously, the 1 kilogram of adobo cut chicken. Yes, there is a cut named after the national dish of the Philippines, (though this probably only exists in the Philippines, anyway)

You take this chicken, and first rinse it well. And then start to notice something. This poor wretch of a bird has not undergone hormone therapy and been pumped full of “broth” to increase it’s bulk. Translation? The meat is almost “dry” for better lack of terminology. What this means to you and I is that a good quality Philippine chicken is delightfully susceptible to marination, because all the little porous tissues are empty, rather than full of “filler”… See more info on this here. That is why all the marinating in the world does little good to birds from the US or Canada (my experience with both, not knowing what goes on with Euro-Poultry)... However, I digress.....

SO, you take this wonderful "dry sponge" of a chicken, cut into approximately 20 pieces or so for the average 2lb bird, "adobo cut" (essentially, the whole chicken is cut up, leaving the bones in) and after the wash, put in 1/2 cup of cane vinegar and 1/4 cup of soy sauce, then about a dozen calamansi (or key limes) and put in the "ref" (refrigerator) for at least and hour. Then you take your caldereta (big pot) and add about 2-3 TBSP of oil, and go back to your chicken, and look at how it has absorbed most of the marinade. That is a good thing. Dump the excess out, and then put it into the pot, and get things going, hot and loud. Add 4-5 medium sized potatoes (patatas), two onions (sibuyas) and about 6 cloves of garlic (bawang). Get all that frying up nicely, stirring every couple of minutes. Some "juice" from the vegetables, marinade and cooking process should be starting to come out. After 15 minutes or so, it is time for the serious part, and seemingly benign. Add about an ounce more of soy, and an ounce of vinegar, a TBSP of brown sugar, and a half TSP of coarse ground/cracked black pepper, bay leaf and cup and a half of water. Bring this to a rapid boil, then turn it down to simmer for 45 minutes. When you come back to it, it should be darker in color than when you left. This is good. The sugar, and onions and process made it dark, and the taste should be a little tart, a little sweet, and kinda gravy-ish from the breakdown of the potatoes. You can add a bit more of whatever to balance, and it should be balanced. Serve with rice (duh), and fresh cut bananas, (as learned by "Aunty Lisa") ...

The dish, as far as I know, is known to be rich, if not a bit oily. A good accompanying dish would be the other bane, and as yet unconquered, sinagang. A tamarind based soup that would cut away any excess "grease" from the adobo. Enjoy!

1 comment:

Jason said...

I was amazed at how much better the meat was in the Philippines. I actually felt significantly better when I was there. By comparison, I constantly feel like I'm on speed when consuming a North America diet and I go out of my way to avoid meat here.