Authentic Filipino Chicken Adobo is a dish near and dear to my heart. It's an easy week-night dish that packs a ton of flavor without needing a ton of ingredients or dishes. This is a dish I've eaten hundreds of times growing up. My mom is filipino. When I was little my filipino grandmother lived with us. I have memories of standing on the chair in the kitchen watching them make it.Jump to Recipe
Every filipino family has their own recipe. The Philippines is a chain of over 7,000 islands. Each one having their own variations of cuisine and dialect. My family is from the Visayas region, but many live in Cagayan De Oro, a large industrialized city. You'll find street vendors hawking banana-cue, and mangos and travel by Jeepneys, the U.S. Military vehicles that are repurposed into open-air independent taxi cabs.
What is Authentic Filipino Adobo?
As a disclaimer, it's all authentic Filipino Chicken Adobo! Everyone makes it their own way. Some use chicken and others use pork. Some people sear it first and braise it afterwards. Many just braise it without any dry searing. I actually reduce my liquid at the end a crisp the chicken skin under the broilers.
To do some research I went straight to the sources and polled my direct family for their own authentic filipino adobo.
Here my mother has great advice. When in doubt, go where home-sick Filipinos go and watch some YouTube videos.
But then everyone showed me their own version.
As you can see three different Filipino recipes, just in my immediate family. My mother used boneless pork, my little sister did a pull-a-part tender braise, and my older sister did Filipino chicken adobo with drum sticks. Even my former roommate Dan Castro, of EversoleDC, a Filipino Chef formerly of Uchiko, one of the best restaurants in Austin Texas has his own version.
How to make Adobo
I know what you're thinking. That was a painful amount of backstory for one recipe, but I think it illustrates my point that however you make your adobo it will be authentic filipino adobo.
Gather your ingredients. All we need is bone-in skin on chicken things, bay leave, peppercorns, garlic, soy sauce and vinegar. If you're gluten free use gluten-free soy sauce.
Choose a heavy bottom pan that is big enough for all of your chicken. A wide straight sided sauté pan or enameled cast iron are great for this.
Start by searing your chicken over medium heat. You want to cook it a little slower than a hot sear so that all of the fat renders out. This gets the skin super crispy and prevents it from getting soggy. You also develop more flavor from this step.
Next add the remaining ingredients. The soy sauce, vinegar, water and all aromatics. Make sure the water comes halfway up the chicken, if not then add more.
After that bring the liquid mixture to a boil. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes until the chicken is tender. At this stage you can use a lid cracked open to let some steam evaporate or loosely tent it with parchment paper.
If you're familiar with a cartouche you can make one. It's basically a vented parchment paper lid.
The final and last step that I do to make my adobo is that I reduce all of the liquid at the end. I reduce the soy sauce while basting it over the chicken until it coats the outsize like a thin glaze. At this point you can broil it under the broil for 1-2 minutes to get it extra crispy. Serve with rice and enjoy.
Authentic Filipino Chicken Adobo
- Saute pan or medium sized pot
- 8 ea Chicken Thighs
- 1 tbsp Oil
- 1/3 cup Soy Sauce
- 1/3 cup Cane Vinegar or Distilled White Vinegar
- 1/3 cup Water or more to cover the chicken half way
- 1 tbsp Whole peppercorns
- 6 ea Dried bay leaves
- Sear the chicken over medium heat. It should be golden brown with all of the fat rendered out. Around 6 minutes or longer depending on the strength of your stove.
- Flip the chicken so the skin side is up. Add all remaining ingredients soy sauce, vinegar, water, bay leaf, garlic, and peppercorns.
- Bring liquid to a boil and reduce the heat to a slow simmer. Cook with a slightly cracked lid or with a vented piece of parchment paper for 30 to 45 minutes or until the chicken thigh is very tender.
- Finally, remove the lid and reduce the sauce until it becomes thicker while spooning it over the chicken thighs to coat them. Finish them in the oven on the broil setting by broiling on high for 1-2 minutes until the skin is crisp.
- Enjoy and serve with rice.