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The Hungry Nomad: Chicken Adabo from the Philippines

December 16, 2011

Chicken Adabo from the Philippines


  • 1 (3 pound) whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce

  • 3/4 cup distilled white vinegar

  • 1 bulb garlic, peeled and crushed

  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh ginger root

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns

  • 1/2 onion (optional) 

  • Directions

The classic recipe is to use a whole chicken cut into parts, with the breasts split three or for ways for even cooking. However, you can use a bag of drumettes, a bunch of chicken legs, I personally use boneless/skinless thighs however, skin and bones do give it a better flavour

  1. Put your chicken parts in one layer in an oversized sauce pan. The big 16 inch cast-iron skillet will do nicely, or a wok for those of you who have a full kitchen. 
  2. Splash in some salty soy sauce, enough to dress the chicken pieces.  
  3. Pour in the vinegar.
  4. Drop in two bay leaves, and a tablespoon of tomato paste (optional). 
  5. Put some whole peppercorns in a mortar and pestle, and crack each one. 
  6. Break your garlic bulb into cloves; Slice off the end where it is attached to the base and then lightly crush each clove under the side of your knife. Remove the papery peel, but  leave the whole garlic cloves in tact. Toss them into your pan.
  7. Add three inches of fresh ginger to the mix. (I have made this dish both with and without ginger and personally prefer less ginger so the garlicy taste comes through). Grate more than three inches if you want, the more the better. 
  8. Let it simmer on medium for 40 minutes.
  9. I also use a lot of onions in this dish. If you like onions you can add it in the beginning process. Fry until a golden hew then add the chicken mix. 

If you want to make fancy adobo, simmer the chicken in the sauce until it’s fully cooked. Then take the chicken out of the pan, turn up the flame and reduce the liquids ALL THE WAY DOWN. If you used the skin, there should be plenty of chicken fat… the vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic will have reduced to a thick paste. When you’re down to mostly oil, return the chicken to the pan to toast it. Make sure the chicken browns on all sides and gets coated with the paste. 

Serve with rice. 

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