My Lola (Filipino Grandmother) makes adobo for most of our family events. It has been a feature for most Christmastimes, Easters, and summer vacation barbecues. My family is mixed raced; my dad, aunt and uncle all having married Canadian partners. So along side dishes like adobo, lumpia, and pancit would be hams, turkey, dips and other “Canadian food” as my Lola calls them. The Filipino food was always a very nice treat for me as I lived far away from Lola and the ingredients for most Filipino dishes were hard to come by in rural Ontario. One summer my Lola gave my mom a adobo recipe sans the fish sauce, and on occasion my mom would whip it up. It wasn’t as good as Lola’s but still very close. When I was older I watched Lola add the fish sauce and saw she cooked the adobo longer than my mom. Plus she added a bit more vinegar. When it came to making my own I kept those items and in mind and it hit the spot. So this is my Lola’s recipe. I’m sure it isn’t exactly as she makes it, as I think a lot of Filipino cooking is by eye and flavour just as much as by measurements.
Lola's Chicken AdoboPrint This
- 2 lbs of chicken
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 cups of water
- 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
- 4 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 4 cloves of fresh garlic crushed
- 1 tablespoon of white sugar
- cooking or stir fry oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- a few dashes of fish sauce
- 3 teaspoon of crushed peppercorns
Combine soy sauce and crushed garlic with chicken in a bowl and cover to marinate for 3 hours to overnight in the fridge. The flesh of the chicken will become darker but this is normal.
Bring chicken to room temperature before sautéing in a large pot in stir fry oil on medium-high heat. Cook chicken until it is browned all over. Remove chicken and set aside.
Add marinade and water to the pot to deglaze the cooked bits of chicken off the pot bottom. Stir until the bottom of the pot is deglazed. Add the chicken back into the pot and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Ensure that the water is covering the chicken halfway up the pieces. If you need more water, add a bit more.
Crush black peppercorns in a pestle and mortar and add to the pot along with whole bay leaves and vinegar. Then simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally to ensure the chicken doesn’t stick.
Around the 30 minute mark add sugar and a dash or two of fish sauce and let cook for another 10 minutes until sauce thickens. Add salt to taste.
The chicken will be very tender and the sauce with be thicker with a sweet and sour type flavour.
Fish sauce is optional but adds a lovely flavour. You can use other types of vinegar. Lola typically used white vinegar. I add apple cider vinegar as it adds a sweet rounded flavour. If you want this dish spicier add a whole scotch bonnet pepper. Remove before serving.