If there is anything more synonymous with Filipino food, it’s unequivocally Adobo. Many of us grew up with this savory dish at the comfort of our homes through heirloom recipes cooked by our mothers, fathers, or even grandmothers. While made with different methods, each style maintains a similar flavor profile of salty, sour, and tangy.
In an effort to pass House Bill 3926, which formally declares Adobo as our national dish, NutriAsia’s Datu Puti held the Adobo Challenge at Mercato Centrale. Fourteen veterans of the successful weekend food market showcased their best Adobofied creations.
THE ADOBO CHALLENGE
Each entry in the Adobo Challenge was judged based on the following criteria: creativity of concept, history, banding, cooking techniques, innovation, how it adopts Filipino culinary styles, and its effective use of Datu Puti products.
Among the 14, a Top 3 were chosen and a People’s Choice Awardee. Here are the winners…
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!
FIRST PLACE: The Oinkery | “Pugon-Smoked Pork Adobo”
This delightful Adobofied dish gets inspiration from Cebu’s long history of Lechon. The pork is cooked inside a pugon oven, which allows the smoky flavors to seep.
The meat is amazingly tender and flavorful. A side of green mangoes helps add another dimension of taste, making this dish quite memorable.
SECOND PLACE: Dayrit’s | “Adobong Laing Pinangat”
Dayrit’s Bicolandia-esque Adobo is “a little bit of everything”: sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and delicious of course!
The dish combines two classic Pinoy favorites of Laing and Adobo!
THIRD PLACE: Bakmi Nyonya | “Babi Kekap”
Lucy of Bakmi Nyonya adds an Indonesian touch to our Adobo with Galangal, Kecap Manis, White Wine, and Mushrooms.
As a judge, this was my personal favorite for its well-balanced, savory flavors. Nothing was overpowering, and the meat was cooked just right.
PEOPLE’S CHOICE: Lariza | “Seafood Adobo”
Lariza is another well-established food vendor at Mercato famous for their seafood dishes like seafood Kaldera and Kare-Kare.
This Adobo had more sour notes, but was balanced well with the natural flavors of the shellfish and coconut milk. I can honestly say this was “ma-searap”!
OTHER TASTY ADOBO ENTRIES:
Dadding’s Kitchenette | “Adobong Ensalada”
Quite a name in Laguna, this Adobo-infused dish made of Adobo flakes is served as a side or appetizer.
The refreshing flavor added by the ripe mango makes this dish a great addition to a picnic.
Fat Ninja Gyoza | Adobo Gyoza
Served with a thick Adobo sauce, the Gyoza is made with shredded “leftover” Adobo with Japanese spices.
The Adobo flavor is quite subtle, however.
Good Meal Hunting | Halal Adobo & Korean Fried Chicken Adobo
With their Halal Adobo, Good Meal Hunting also shares the comfort of classic Adobo with our Muslim friends.
Tasty and fragrant, this is the Adobo that hits closest to home.
The vendor’s Korean Adobo Chicken combines classic Pinoy ingredients with spicy Gochujang.
Hunger Buster | “Adoburger”
Hunger Buster makes an ode to Filipino Flavors and American Fast Food with their “Adoburger”.
The Adobo-infused patty is topped with onions, honey-mustard, onion, egg, and a slice of Kiwi to give a subtle sour kick.
Timplador Lechon House | Pork Humba
The Adobo-like Pork Humba is a tangy dish made with pork simmered in pineapple juice.
As a local favorite in Cebu, this dish is typically served on special occasions like Fiestas.
Cuisiniers | Crispy Beef Adobo
The Crispy Beef Adobo hails from Makinabang, Bulacan.
What gives the meat this intensely dark color is the long marination and two-step cooking process of braising and frying.
The Hairstylist’s Menu | “Four-way Cooked Chicken Adobo in a Pouch”
This heirloom recipe involves a tedious cooking process: boiling, braising, simmering, and frying!
The Lumpia wrapper adds a nice Pinoy-Chinese touch to the dish.
Chef Bab’s | Adobo a la Cabiao
Chef Bab’s Adobo is prepared in the traditional Nueva Ecija way—wrapped in egg!
While more on the sour side, the potency of flavor is much appreciated.
House of Crispy | Adobong Puti
Instead of patis or soy sauce, salt is what completes the triumvirate of sour, tangy, and salty.
This style of cooking hails from the Visayan region.
Along with live performances from the likes of Up Dharma Down and Ebe Dancel, food lovers welcomed the 14 Adoboriffic contenders with hungry stomachs and happy ears!
Congratulations to Datu Puti, Mercato Centrale, The Oinkery, Dayrit’s, Bakmi Nonya, Lariza’s, and all the participating concessionaires for such a momentous night in Adobo history!
Judges included: Jam Melchor of Philippine Culinary Heritage Movement, Veronica Dado of National Historical Commission of the Philippines, Chef Nancy Lumen Reyes, Gretchen King of NutriAsia, and Sheila Gomez of Our Awesome Planet.
Live an Awesome Life,
Sheila of Team Our Awesome Planet
Disclosure: Our Awesome Planet is a co-presenter of the Adobo Movement. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.
P.S. The 3 Winners and People's Choice Awardee will be adding their Adobo dishes to their regular roster at Mercato.
You can be part of the Adobo Movement by signing the petition at www.change.org/o/adobomovement.