Filipino Chicken Adobo

I've always had a love-hate relationship with Filipino food. Growing up, my most vivid memories of eating Filipino food include being tricked into eating chocolate meat (also known as pork blood stew), being forced to eat bittermelon until tears poured down my cheeks, and of course, who could forget hearing the squealing sounds of an animal (baby goat, pig, what have you) being slaughtered in my uncle's backyard before a big family gathering/celebration. Yeah, you heard me. I didn't make that last part up. The adults would always tell us kids to play in the front of the house so that we wouldn't "hear" anything--either the house was too small or the animal was very loud, but us kids could hear everything!

On the other hand, I also remember eating deep fried mochi balls dipped in a sugary syrup known as cascaron, sharing halo-halo, a snack that consists of shaved ice, evaporated milk, and fruit, with my mom on those hot summer days, and indulging in kare-kare, a peanut based oxtail stew, which happens to be my favorite Filipino dish of all time.

It wasn't until recently that I started to appreciate this misunderstood cuisine. I think it has to do with the fact that as you get older, your palate changes and you aren't as picky as you were when you were younger. Sure, there are a few Filipino dishes I will still not touch, like the 'chocolate' meat or balut, a boiled fertilized duck embryo, but I will say that my appreciation and 'gusto' for the cuisine has greatly improved since I was a little girl, and continues to do so.

Chicken Adobo is perhaps one of the best known Filipino dishes out there. (It is the Philippines' "national" dish, after all!) As of now, it is the only Filipino dish I know how to make. (I know, shame on me, but my Filipino mother cooked American food most of the time, and when she attempted to cook Filipino food, well, we won't even go there.)

Here is my take on how to make "national" food of the Philippines. It's quick, easy, and a one pot wonder meal!

Here's what you'll need: chicken thighs, white vinegar, soy sauce, bay leaves, garlic, and black pepper. (Sriracha and brown sugar are optional!)

Step 1: Mix all of the ingredients (except the chicken thighs) in a medium saucepan.

Step 2: Add the chicken to the saucepan and marinate for 1-3 hours.

Step 3: Bring the chicken up to a boil, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Step 4: Uncover and simmer for another 15 minutes.

Boom! You're finished! Serve the chicken adobo with rice (spoon a little bit of that yummy broth on top) and some veggies!

Filipino Chicken Adobo

Serves 2-4


4 chicken thighs
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 bay leaves

Sriracha, to taste (optional)
Brown sugar, to taste (optional)


Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Marinate the chicken for 1-3 hours. Bring to boil, then cover, lower the heat, and let simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and simmer until the sauce is reduced and thickened, and the chicken is tender, about 15 more minutes. Serve with steamed rice. Enjoy!

Cook's Note: 

Many Filipino dishes have a sour/tart component in them, with Chicken Adobo being no exception. I added brown sugar (or regular white granulated sugar, whichever you have on hand) as an optional ingredient for those of you who find this dish to be a little too sour/tart. The sugar will help balance the flavors a little bit. I think my adobo tastes just fine without the sugar, but that's just my personal preference.

Sriracha is typically not added to Chicken Adobo. However, Ruben and I like things extra spicy so we always add a bit of Sriracha to our marinade. If you don't like spicy, don't use it!