Filipino Chicken Adobo
As requested by Philip Galanaga and Neil Gerald Ruiz, here’s my version of Filipino chicken adobo! With few ingredients and steps, this is easily a weeknight dinner material, can be made days in advance, and it’ll also work in a slow cooker! It might look rich but the cane vinegar makes it bright and tart. I love Filipino food, and this is one of my favourites!
- 6 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
- ¼ cup soy sauce (see note)
- ⅓ cup Filipino cane vinegar (see note)
- 1 tsp black pepper, ground
- 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 medium onion, short juliennes
- 3 bay leaves
- Chopped cilantro or green onions for garnish
- Jasmine rice for serving
Note: I use Filipino soy sauce for this, but you can use Japanese or Chinese soy sauce as well. I would not, however, use Thai soy sauce for this because it’s so much lighter and it won’t have the same rich colour and flavour. Although you could try using Thai soy sauce and add some black/dark soy sauce to it!
Filipino cane vinegar is labeled “Sukang Maasim.” It is quite widely available at Asian grocery stores. It has smoother, milder flavour than white vinegar. You can also use any mild-flavoured vinegar that you think has a smooth, pleasant flavour. My rule of thumb is, if you can taste it straight up (just a tiny taste!) and it doesn’t make your mouth pucker, it should be fine.
Combine soy sauce, vinegar and black pepper in a casserole dish or a zip-top bag. Trim off excess fat from the chicken, then add the chicken to the marinade. Let marinate for at least 20 minutes.
In a medium sized pot or skillet just wide enough to fit all the chicken in one layer, add a little vegetable oil and onions. Cook the onions, stirring frequently, over medium low heat until the caramelized, soft and sweet. If you notice that the pan has a lot of browned bits stuck to the bottom, deglaze with a bit of water. When the onions are almost done, add garlic and bay leaves and cook for a few more minutes until the onions are done.
Push the onions to one side of the pan then add a little oil to the empty space. Turn the heat up to medium high and wait for the pan to get hot. Add the chicken pieces, skin side down and let sear for a minute or two to brown the skin. Once browned, flip the chicken and add the marinade. Add a little more water so that the sauce comes up right under the chicken skin (about 3/4 submerged). Cover and turn the heat to low so the liquid is gently bubbling. Braise for 30 minutes or until the chicken is fork tender. This is not necessary, but if you want you can flip the chicken at about halfway through.
When the chicken is done braising, open the lid and reduce the sauce over high heat for another few minutes just until the sauce is reduced to your liking. You don’t even have to reduce the sauce at all if you like a lighter, brothier sauce. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning as needed.
Garnish with chopped green onion and/or cilantro and serve with jasmine rice. Enjoy!