By Chlarine Gianan 2022-02-05

The Food for All Seasons—Adobo


Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Family outings or daily meals—a Filipino experience isn’t complete without this dish. At some point in the lives of Filipinos, we craved for adobo. Every household has its own version—chicken, pork, a combination of both, beef, squid, or even kangkong. Some people like their adobo sweet, while others prefer it to be leaning towards the sour taste. There are now also variations of this dish without soy sauce, or with gata or coconut milk. Whatever our version of adobo may be, it will always remind us of the warmth and heartiness of being or knowing a Filipino.


Adobo’s Age-old Tale

During the old ages and even until now, one way of preserving food was adding vinegar and salt to dishes. Because of these two ingredients, food lasts longer and can be consumed for more days or weeks. This was how adobo came to be in the Philippines—a method of preserving the prepared food given that there were no refrigerators back then.

When the Spanish came to the Philippines, they observed how “adobo” was cooked then. Adobo became the dish’s name because in Spanish, “adobo” is a literal translation for word marinade.

The meat is soaked in soy sauce and vinegar while it simmers so the flavors really stick to it. From the outside to the inside, you will be able to taste the mixture of sweetness, sourness, and saltiness, and sometimes a little bit of kick (courtesy of the whole black peppers or even greed or red chili peppers!)—it’s truly everything that you could look for in a dish.  

Adobo Anatomy

The key ingredient to any adobo dish is the vinegar. Because there are a lot of vinegars to choose from, a dish can be elevated to another version based on the vinegar that you choose. If you really want to experience the real goodness of adobo, then choosing the type of vinegar that works best for you is the key.

Next, the meat. Chicken and pork are the top two classics for an adobo dish. Some prefer to combine these two kinds of meat together for an easier option for chicken and pork lovers. When the adobo has been eaten with sauce for quite some time, you can actually shred the meat and turn it into crispy adobo flakes—this dish is perfect for breakfast or for anyone who prefers their adobo with no sauce! But let’s face it—nothing really beats the comfort of seeing your rice drenched in that adobo sarsa (sauce)!

There is also a seafood version of adobo called adobong pusit, which uses squid as its meat. Other nanays (mothers) would also put kamatis or tomatoes in their adobong pusit while preparing the sarsa. Adobong kangkong (water spinach) is also an option for vegetable lovers who would still like to enjoy the goodness of adobo without the guilt of eating meat! Adobong kangkong can be a main course dish or a side dish.

Finally, for additional flavoring, you can opt to add soy sauce, salt, whole black peppers, garlic, and bay leaves. All of these are optional depending on the version of adobo that you are trying to achieve. The classic adobo served in karinderya (food stalls) has vinegar, soy sauce, black peppers, and bay leaves. Adding or removing these ingredients makes your dish unique and done in your own style, so it is still a classic with just a twist adjusted to your own liking!

But wait…there’s more! There are other ingredients that can still add to your adobo. You can add gata or coconut milk for a creamier adobo style, or even potatoes for a rather complete meal of protein and carbohydrates in one dish. Others like their adobo with boiled eggs for a hearty meal that they will truly enjoy. Even carbonated drinks like Sprite and Coke are used in enhancing the flavors of this Filipino dish.

 Adobo’s Action Time

The best thing about making adobo is you can find the ingredients in your grocery store. If you want to try cooking the classic adobo, you can check a channel called  Panlasang Pinoy on YouTube. Vanjo Merano, the man behind Panlasang Pinoy, has made different versions of adobo that you can choose from: pork adobo, chicken adobo, pinatuyong adobo (dried adobo in oil), Sprite pork adobo, adobo with quail eggs, spicy adobo, and Coke adobo to name a few.

Erwan Heussaff, Another YouTuber and social media personality, has his own version of adobo in four ways. You can check it out here.

The best thing about adobo is its flexibility when it comes to cooking and eating it. No adobo can ever be deemed as the best one because everyone has their own preference for this classic Filipino dish. The only thing that’s common to all adobo’s is it will surely remind of you the warmth of having Filipinos in your life.

So what are you waiting for? Find your own version of adobo now!






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