A savory smell with a hint of acidity fills the air, followed by a gentle waft of garlic and aromatic bay leaf. You uncover the simmering pot and taste the sauce to make sure it’s sour enough. When the meat is tender and the sauce is just right, you allow it to cool and wait the next day to eat it just like your mother did—that’s if you can!
Nothing brings us the comfort of home quite like Adobo. The simplicity of this ubiquitous dish has lent to delicious variations across the nation; and most importantly, across our households. Ask any Filipino, and he or she will tell you about an heirloom Adobo recipe or two.
In an effort to make Adobo the national dish, Celebrity Cook, Masflex Ambassador, and Adobo Queen, Nancy Reyes-Lumen, celebrates the #AdoboMovement by making the classic Adobong Puti.
Adobo Movement Series:
- ADOBO MOVEMENT: Making Adobo the National Dish of the Philippines!
- Chicken Pork Adobong Puti by the Adobo Queen, Nancy Reyes-Lumen! (Recipe)
- ADOBO CHALLENGE: Best Adobo in Manila! @Mercatocentrale
- RODRIGO'S ROAST: Adobo Dish Recipe Fit for a President!
Despite the variations in cooking style, there are unifying ingredients that give the Adobo its characteristic sour-salty-tangy flavor: Garlic, Bay Leaf, Salt, and Pepper are staple ingredients.
Did you know that the earliest versions of Adobo did not have soy sauce? Because the pre-colonial Filipinos did not have refrigeration, they would preserve their meat in vinegar and salt. The garlic, bay leaf, and pepper are Spanish additions, while the Chinese contributed the soy sauce.
ADOBONG PUTI RECIPE:
1 KG of combined Chicken and Pork Belly
1 tablespoon of Vinegar
1-2 tablespoon of Fish Sauce
Peppercorns (as many as you like)
1-2 heads of smashed garlic
1 cup water
1-2 bay leaves
Before cooking, marinade the meat for at least 2 hours—overnight is best.
Combine all ingredients in a large pot and boil uncovered, then simmer on low heat covered until the meats are tender.
In a separate pan, brown the meats to seal the flavor and return to the pot.
(Note: browning is optional and can be done before simmering.)
Correct the seasoning with salt, then simmer for 5 more minutes. Serve with steamed rice!
The Adobong Puti omits the soy sauce and highlights the sour and garlicky components of the dish. Traditionally, this version is cooked in households across central Luzon like in Pampanga.
Adobo is a memory dish unique to Filipinos all over the world.
Adobo's long keeping time characterizes our resilience. Its boldness of flavor, simplicity, and flexibility captures our spirit.
No matter where the Filipino is, Adobo will always bring him home.
Adobo Movement Series:
Live an Awesome Life,
Disclosure: Our experience is courtesy of Nancy Reyes-Lumen. We wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.
P.S. Contrary to popular belief, Adobo originates from the French word "Dobar", which means to dress a knight in armor.
10+ Commandments in Cooking Adobo by Nancy Reyes-Lumen
1) Pork liempo is best, tastiest and is better with skin-on. When cooked, becomes sticky and gelatin-y and helps thicken the sauce gloriously.
2) Simmer! Cook meats in low fire from start to finish (until meats are tender) and sauce is reduced. [Cook uncovered in last 10 minutes.]
3) The usual rations are:
-1kg meat (chicken or pork): 1/2 cup native vinegar (reduce according to acidity of vinegar)
-1kg meat (chicken or pork): 1/2 cup vinegar; 1/4 cup water
-Soy sauce can range from 2tbs to 4tbs per 1/2 cup vinegar
-1kg meat: 1/2 cup vinegar or acide: 1/2 tbs coarse salt
-2-4tbs soy sauce: 5-10 peppercorns: 1 laurel leaf
4) Cook chicken separately from pork. Flavors come out better. Then combine later when serving.
5) Always have salt in Adobo.
6) Crush peppercorns at the last minute to retain their aroma.
7) 1 medium0sized laurel leaf can add flavor and aroma to 1/2kg meat. If you have the chance, use fresh laurel leaves.
8) Garlic. Crush only when about to be used. If left in the marinade overnight, it will lose its strong flavor. Be generous with garlic.
9) Braise meats first in, first out till brown. Then simmer till tender. For a better finish, bake at the last 15 minutes.
10) Mix with liver spread or mashed liver. Broiling or roasting liver over coal adds a nutty flavor.
11) Adobo with Gata. Gata can be combined wth coco milk and coco cream.
12) Do not stir vinegar till it has cooked. That is, when all the acid has evaporated. Your nose will tell.
13) Cook covered and on low heat (also called simmering).
14) The flow chart of cooking Adobo:
Marinade--> braise --> simmer --> tenderize --> fry --> reduce --> keep for a day --> served