Chicken Adobo is a classic and a national dish of the Philippines, its popularity reached other countries rapidly. If you have chicken thighs, vinegar, soy sauce, and black peppercorns, you can make this Filipino dish in no time! Make it for dinner and enjoy juicy chicken smothered in a savory and sweet glaze that goes really well with white rice or noodles.
I have included a video to show you just how simple it is to make this dish.
What is Filipino Chicken Adobo?
If you never had Filipino Chicken Adobo, then you will be glad that you have discovered its recipe. It is a classic dish from the cuisine of the Philippines. The ingredients are basic and straightforward, but chicken adobo has a few different ways of cooking it. Some marinate the chicken with soy sauce and peppercorns, others cook the chicken with skin, and in some recipes, brown sugar is omitted. Oh, and you’ll be surprised when you read more on how to store chicken adobo!
The Origin of Filipino Chicken Adobo Recipe
Filipinos cook some of their food using vinegar to keep the food fresh as long as possible despite the tropical climate the Philippines is known for. Vinegar is mainly added in seafood dishes and chicken to maintain the flavor; the vinegar not only preserves the freshness of the dish, but for some dishes, it actually enhances the flavor with time; hence the leftover doesn’t taste like a leftover!
Brown or marinate the chicken?
Some recipes call for marinating the chicken in soy sauce, garlic, and black peppercorns for an hour or two. I understand that marination brings out more flavor from the chicken. However, I also noticed that the method I use in this recipe, which is browning, not only enhances the taste, but the chicken absorbs all the flavors from the sauce while cooking. Instead of waiting for two hours or three for the chicken to marinate, you can have your dinner ready on the table within 35 minutes.
What chicken adobo tastes like
I’m sure you are worried about the number of peppercorns in the recipe, but soy sauce and vinegar reduce the heat and bring out more flavor from the peppercorns. Since we are not crushing them, you can remove them from your plate after serving if you wish. The chicken adobo’s flavor will remind you a little of Chicken Teriyaki once that soy sauce and a hint of sweetness hit you.
You can try my Chicken Teriyaki Skewers; you will cook it on the stovetop with a grilled chicken flavor. I have a video guide too!
Chicken Adobo Ingredients
Chicken thighs – I have used skinless, boneless chicken thighs since it cooks relatively quickly. You will notice that the chicken thighs in the video look small is because I have used farm-raised organic chicken! It’s much flavorful than the store-bought chicken. You can go for chicken drumsticks and chicken breast; for how to cook chicken adobo using chicken breast, please read the notes in the recipe card below.
Soy sauce – No need for dark soy sauce. Go for regular all-purpose soy sauce, and it’s best to use the one with low sodium.
White vinegar – The authentic recipe calls for cane vinegar made from sugar cane and is popular in the Philippines. However, I have used white vinegar, and it was perfect. You can also use rice vinegar. Do not worry; the pungent smell will tone down while cooking.
Black peppercorns – You can’t skip this spice; in fact, it helps eliminate any odor from the chicken and make the sauce flavorful. I have used freshly ground and whole peppercorns.
Cooking oil – I wouldn’t use olive oil; although you can, you want to use a flavorless oil to enjoy the different flavors from the ingredients.
Garlic – Use fresh garlic, preferably freshly crushed garlic.
Onion – I always go for red onions because it has a lot of flavors and I cook many Indian dishes, and it calls for red onions, so it is
Sugar – Brown sugar is what’s recommended for this recipe, but you can use white sugar. We add sugar to balance the intense flavors coming from the soy sauce and vinegar.
Bay leaves – I sometimes add it and other times forget to. Honestly, I didn’t find much difference so, you can add or skip it.
How to make Filipino Chicken Adobo
Prepare the sauce: In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, white vinegar, water, and brown sugar. Set this mixture aside.
Sear the chicken: We want the chicken to stay tender throughout the cooking process; we can do this by searing the chicken in hot oil from both sides until golden in color. If you are using chicken thighs with skin, sear the skin side first. If you are keeping the bones, then cook the chicken three minutes longer. In my case, I have used skinless, boneless chicken, and the size was small, so it took less time to cook.
Add a flavor: Remove the chicken from the pan, and add the chopped onion, cook until translucent, and then add the minced garlic.
Return the chicken to the pan, cook for a minute to absorb the onion-garlic flavors. Now, add the black pepper powder and the lack peppercorns, mix for a few seconds.
Pour the sauce: It’s time to pour the sauce mixture and cook on medium heat for three minutes.
Reduce the sauce: Since we do not want to overcook the chicken, remove the chicken and keep it aside, keep the sauce cooking on medium heat until it reduces and looks more like a glaze with a shine.
Return the chicken and turn off the heat, mix well and cover for 10 minutes before serving.
Serve with rice or noodles.
How to store leftover chicken adobo safely
Chicken adobo is one of those dishes that tastes better with time. The white vinegar’s flavor tones down and, with time, enhances the flavor of the chicken and the sauce. Therefore, I’m not sure if we can call the leftover from the chicken adobo a leftover! But to store it, place it in a plastic container, preferably an airtight container, and refrigerate for up to one week.
Amazing tips for making Filipino chicken adobo
If you don’t mind the extra calories, it’s best to use chicken thigh with skin. Searing the chicken will bring out a lot of flavors.
To have more sauce to pour on the rice, don’t reduce the sauce much but make a slurry by mixing 1 teaspoon cornstarch with three tablespoons of water and pouring it into the sauce while stirring. Cook the sauce until thick, and then serve. This step also works well when using regular soy sauce because it is salty and reducing the sauce will give you a very salty sauce.
When using chicken breast, sear both sides and not crowd the pan with the chicken; otherwise, the chicken will lose moisture and dry.
If you are in Japan, you’ll have more than 6 different types of soy sauce. Go for the all-purpose soy sauce.
Originally, chicken adobo has cane vinegar. If you want to go all authentic and can’t find cane vinegar in the stores, then order it online; however, the white vinegar, rice vinegar, and apple cider vinegar work just fine.
When serving rice, do not pour a lot of the sauce; a little will go a long way. The sauce’s taste is strong so keep that in mind.
Chicken Adobo Recipe
- 900 gm chicken thighs skinless and boneless. Pat it dry
FOR THE SAUCE
- ⅓ cup soy sauce low sodium
- ½ cup white vinegar
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar
FOR COOKING THE CHICKEN
- 2 tablespoon oil
- 5 minced garlic cloves 1 tablespoon
- 1 onion thinly sliced
- 1 cup hot water
- ¾ tablespoon black peppercorns
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper powder
- In a small bowl, mix all the sauce ingredients well and keep them aside.
- Heat a large pan and add oil. Add the chicken and sear from both sides. If your pan is not large, then sear the chicken in batches. When both sides of the chicken are golden, remove from the pan.
- To the remaining oil in the pan, add onion slices and fry until translucent, then add the garlic and cook on medium-low heat to prevent the garlic from burning for a few seconds.
- Return the chicken to the pan and cook for two minutes; this will allow the chicken to absorb flavors from onion and chicken. Add the black pepper powder and black peppercorns and mix for a few seconds.
- Pour the previously prepared sauce into the chicken and add one cup of hot water. Cover the pan and let it come to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat and let it simmer until the chicken is cooked.
- Remove the chicken and let the sauce reduce until it looks like glaze and a little darker.
- Return the chicken to sauce and mix for 30 seconds. Turn off heat and serve the chicken adobo with rice.