Sunday, January 17, 2016

Filipino Chicken Adobo & Pork Adobo

Instead of having two separate entries for the chicken and pork versions of this dish, I decided to put them together. The recipe is identical just different proteins. I mentioned the three women in my life that influenced my cooking, my mother, my Grandma Mac, and my Aunt Gloria. My Aunt Gloria is Filipina. She taught my mother a few dishes from her culture. The two big ones were pancit and adobo. These two dishes were huge during my childhood. We would have one of them at least once a month.

The reason I call it Filipino adobo, in Spanish adobo means marinade usually with vinegar. It is found is various Latin and Hispanic dishes. The Mexican version of adobo is chiles that have been preserved in a sauce. The Filipino version includes vinegar, soy sauce, bay leaf, onion, garlic and sugar (I used honey instead). The kind of vinegar can be rice wine vinegar, white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. I have never seen white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar used.  
                                                           Chicken adobo

My mom used honey due to my issues with cane sugar. Growing up in a U.S. Navy Seabee family in the Pacific fleet, it was common to see Filipino adobo at potlucks. Not just adobo, but lumpia (Filipino taquito sized egg rolls) as well. The Filipina ladies would freak out about how my mom’s tasted like their mother’s or grandmother’s. They were surprised a Caucasian lady made it. They would ask my mom where she learned it, she told them from her sister-n-law. Then they would ask what she put in it. The honey was the key. It seems that their mothers and grandmothers used honey they gathered instead of sugar.

The Frugal Gourmet on Our Immigrant Ancestors cookbook has a chapter on Filipino cooking. There is an adobo recipe. The recipe has pork and chicken adobo together as one dish. This is not very traditional. People I know of Filipino descent agree it is either or, never both together.

                                                           Pork adobo

I believe this is my first signature dish. I used to use powders instead of fresh garlic, onions, or whole bay leaves. I have been making this since at least Junior High. I have baked this in the oven. I have used a slow cooker with this dish, but my preferred method is braising the meat.

My version is a little different. Traditionally the pieces of pork or chicken are kept intact. I cut mine in bite size pieces. I also add a thickener, usually corn starch. The last time I made this dish before 2015, I had trouble. I used old vinegar, which is a bit stronger. I had to offset the flavor with more soy sauce, than originally called for. Since then I started using rice wine vinegar due to its lighter flavor. I have talked to friends who also make this dish. They informed me vinegar does get stronger the longer it sits.

July 5, 2015, I finally made it again. I used chicken breast and thickened it. As always I cut it to bite sized chunks. I like my sauce similar to thin gravy. My fear was for naught. It was excellent. September 13, 2015, I made it using country style pork ribs. Since coming back to cooking, I use roasted garlic for just about everything, including my adobos. I made it at the end of November of 2015. I used intact chicken thigh. To cut through the deeper flavors, I need less corn starch or a stronger vinegar like white or apple cider vinegar. I did shred the thighs to make them bite sized.  I always serve adobo over jasmine rice.

Filipino Adobo

1-2 lbs of Chicken or Pork (breast and country style ribs are the usual choices)
3 tablespoons of vinegar (rice wine preferably, but white and apple cider work too)
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of honey
1 medium onion diced
1 clove of garlic minced
1 bay leaf
1 cup of water
¼ of corn starch

Cut up the meat in bite sized chunks. Mix soy sauce, vinegar, honey, and water (I have been known to double the amounts of the soy sauce, vinegar and honey). Brown the meat. Once browned add onions and garlic. Cook till onions are soft. Add sauce and bay leaf. Bring to boil the turn down to low. Simmer for 30-45 minutes. Mix cornstarch with 1/3 cup of water. Add to meat and sauce. Simmer for 10 minutes. Serve over rice. 

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