Adobo, dubbed the “national dish of the Philippines" (though unofficially), is cooked by braising the meat in a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce and herbs until it is tender.
The saltiness of the soy sauce mixes nicely with the vinegar (or lemon), while the herbs give a nice aroma that spreads throughout your kitchen and into the dining room. It’s usually served with rice, which is also a staple Filipino food.
Due to adobo's popularity in the Philippines, you'll probably eat it as your first meal when you visit the country. It's like being served fish and chips on your first visit to England — it's a dish you just have to try.
But you don’t need to travel all the way to the Philippines to enjoy this hearty dish. Try this hearty Filipino Chicken Adobo recipe from my reader, Edith Attreed, who inherited it from her grandmother.
Mouthwatering Filipino Chicken Adobo Recipe
- 4 to 5 pounds organic free-range chicken thighs
- 1/2 cup white vinegar or 2 organic lemons, juiced
- 1/2 cup organic Kikkoman soy sauce
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tsp. black peppercorns
- 3 bay leaves
- 4 Tbsp. olive oil
- Combine the chicken thighs, vinegar or lemon juice, Kikkoman soy sauce, garlic, peppercorns, olive oil, and bay leaves in a large pot. Cover to marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for 1 to 3 hours.
- Bring the chicken to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the lid and simmer until the sauce is reduced and thickened and the chicken is tender — about 20 more minutes.
The Benefits of High-Quality Pastured Chicken
Chicken is a good source of protein, which is essential for bodily functions such as muscle growth and slowing down aging. The good thing about using chicken is it takes a shorter time for the meat to become tender. Once properly cooked, you don't need a knife to cut the meat — your fork will do just fine.
One thing I need to emphasize is to purchase organic, free-range chicken. This type of meat is safer and healthier for your body because it does not contain toxic chemicals injected into the chickens, which can be harmful when eaten. Free-range chickens roam outdoors freely, where they hunt for worms, seeds, insects and plants. By letting chickens eat their natural diet at their own leisure, they grow healthy without the problems from injected antibiotics.
However, when consuming protein-rich meats such as chicken, it's important to watch out for the amount you eat. Excessive intake can unlock your mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) pathway, which can lead to cancer. To be safe, I advise moderate consumption of around 40 to 70 grams of protein a day.
Vinegar and Soy Sauce: The Mix That Makes Adobo Unique
Vinegar is made by fermenting the ethanol of a variety of sources such as apple cider, sugarcane, coconut, and grapes. The consistency of the fermentation process always gives vinegar its well-known sour taste, but the different sources can provide different variations of sourness.
Vinegar is known for its strong antimicrobial properties. By using vinegar as a marinade in adobo, you're effectively killing any bacteria inside the meat, making it very safe for consumption.1 One study even found that vinegar can effectively kill E. Coli O157:H7 — this is a testament to vinegar's strength.2
White vinegar is commonly used in adobo, but you're free to give other vinegars a try if the end product doesn't suit your taste. If you don't like the taste of vinegar, lemons can be used in its place. What's great about lemons is that they provide a good source of vitamin C, at 187 percent of the daily recommended intake.
It also contains assorted nutrients such as thiamin, riboflavin, iron, magnesium and fiber. Make sure you're obtaining organic lemons, though, so you don't get pesticides in your system.
As for soy sauce, its manufacturing process is similar to vinegar. Soybeans are fermented along with water and salt to create its signature salty flavor. When choosing soy sauce for adobo, it's important to choose traditionally fermented, preservative-free products, such as Kikkoman's Organic Soy Sauce.
I've written about the dangers of unfermented soy before, and how it can potentially harm your health. If you want to get the authentic taste of Filipino Adobo, I recommend purchasing organic soy sauce only.
Garlic and Bay Leaves Add Flavor to This Dish
Garlic is one of the most commonly used ingredients in cooking, and there's plenty of evidence to support its health benefits. It provides an excellent supply of manganese that is essential for proper thyroid gland function, healthy bones, and calcium absorption. Similar to lemons, garlic is also a good source of vitamin C.
Four cloves of garlic are enough for the measurements listed in this recipe. Add too much and the garlic's flavor will overpower the rest of the ingredients. Like other ingredients, you should purchase fresh organic garlic to maximize the benefits.
The role of bay leaves in adobo is to enhance the aroma. It actually plays a big part in adobo's popularity — the resulting smell of bay leaves combined with the other ingredients creates a very inviting smell.
Bay leaves are known to provide several health benefits as well, such as improving your digestive system, cardiovascular health, and managing stress levels. They are also known for their ability to battle free radicals in your body, reducing the risk of cancer.3 Feel free to add bay leaves to your other dishes as well, such as soups, to maximize its benefit.
A Little Pepper Goes a Long Way
Black peppercorn, commonly known as "pepper," is an essential ingredient not only in adobo, but in countless other dishes. It is used to add spice, bringing life to an otherwise bland dish. Be careful when adding pepper to adobo, as you can end up with a spicy flavor that overpowers other ingredients.
Pepper is known to be a good source of manganese, vitamin K, iron and fiber, which are all essential for a healthy body. Aside from these benefits, pepper is also a carminative, meaning it prevents intestinal gas from forming.
Adobo is a deceptively simple dish due to its ease of preparation and small number of ingredients required, but don't let that fool you. This dish has been around for a long time and once you take a bite, you'll know why. The health benefits are amazing as well. You can add this recipe to your list, as it’s perfect when you're home from a tiring day from work and you want to cook something easy and nutritious at the same time.
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