Adobo melting hearts and warms palates around the world

April 4, 2018 - 7:04 PM
New York Times made a chicken adobo recipe for the winter. (

Chicken adobo, a popular Filipino food, had been abuzz in social media recently as major media entities made their own versions of the national favorite.

Last March 31, The New York Times shared an article on Twitter of a simple chicken adobo recipe as comfort food to cook in the middle of winter.

“Whether consumed in Manila’s heat or on the edge of a New York winter, adobo holds the power to change moods and alter dining habits,” the Twitter post said.

Sam Sifton, the author of the New York Times report, further described chicken adobo as “a difficult dish to cook just once.”

“Its excellence derives from the balance of its flavors, in the alchemy of the process. Cooking softens the acidity of the vinegar, which then combines with the flavor of the meat to enhance it,” Sifton said in his report.

Many readers of the article commented other ways to cook adobo, aside from the method presented.

One reader named Lu said, “The adobo I grew up with would not have coconut milk or chilies, but whole peppercorns instead. Also I think this has too much vinegar.”

Another reader named Molly said that the recipe is just “ok,” except that there’s too much vinegar in the ingredients.

“This dish was ok for us — I love vinegar and this was just too much vinegar for me. The dish smelled heavenly and I think it’s easy to adjust and make some small changes to make it perfect for you and your family. Next time, I’ll reduce the vinegar by 1/3,” said Molly in her comment.

Food Network, an American food channel, also made its own chicken adobo recipe called, “Instant Pot Chicken Adobo.” In their version, the recipe was designed to be cooked in a kitchen appliance called the Instant Pot.

These chicken adobo recipes are just two of the many forms of the Filipino fare other countries have adapted and posted online.

Why is adobo popular?

Being a cultural melting pot, Filipino cuisine has been highly influenced by other countries, which include Spain, the United States, Japan, China, and South Korea.

In this case, many historians say that the iconic adobo has Spanish origins. The word “adobo” is derived from the Spanish term “adobar” that means “marinade or seasoning” in English.

Adobo, which can be made of pork, chicken, or fish, is popular among Filipinos for its mixture of sweet and salty flavors. Because of its popularity, many Filipinos considered it as the national dish of the Philippines.

While the cooking method is simple, the kind of adobo varies from the different regions in the country. For example, Bicolanos make their adobo with chicken and coconut milk, whereas Filipinos from the Visayas region replace the standard soy sauce with a lot of garlic.

Filipino food in the global scene

Another Filipino favorite, pork sisig, had won the favor of celebrity chef and TV host Anthony Bourdain during his visit in the Philippines. Similar to adobo, sisig is a common Filipino fare made from chopped meat of pig, chicken, or fish and normally seasoned with chili pepper, calamansi, and soy sauce.

In an online article from the Independent, Bourdain said that Filipino cuisine would be the next big food trend.

“I think it’s the most likely to convince people abroad who have had no exposure to Filipino food to maybe look further and investigate further beyond sisig. I think that’s the one that’s gonna hook them,” Bourdain said in the report.

Other Filipino foods that have gained global attention include the champorado (chocolate rice porridge), balut (hard-boiled fertilized duck), the kare-kare (oxtail stewed in peanut sauce), and lechon kawali (pork belly).