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Adobo

Peter Imbong from Denmark

Serves
4
Preparation
60 minutes
Cooks in
60 minutes
Country of origin
Philippines

A year ago I found myself stepping off a plane after a 15-hour flight greeted by the biting cold that is Denmark. Meanwhile, 6000 miles away, the family and friends I left behind were enjoying the warmth of Manila. There I was in a whole new country, with people who don’t look like me, or talk like me, with customs and traditions so different from my own. I was alone. I began to question my decision to pack up my whole life into two suitcases to study journalism in the middle of Scandinavia. Homesickness soon became real as I tried to calm the cravings for home and the intense hunger for the familiar flavors of the food I used to enjoy. Eventually, faced with the situation of surviving on instant noodles for the next two years, I sat myself down and, through the magic of the internet, forced myself to learn how to cook. And, it turns out, I was good at it. My mom, suffice, to say, was proud of her boy who once could only open a can of tuna. Soon she began forwarding her own recipes and I would attempt them with considerable success–except for one. Adobo, the national dish made of chicken or pork braised in a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic was one hill I was afraid to climb. There are as many versions of it as there are islands in the Philippine archipelago. However, confident that I could handle it, mom sent me an email with precise instructions of the dish which the New York Times professed “holds the power to change moods and alter dining habits.” One afternoon, with some trepidation, I finally decided to make it. Armed with soy sauce and vinegar from the Asian store downtown, I began to assemble the dish. And an hour later I found myself devouring the savory, pungent, and rich braised chicken over a mound of steamed rice doused in the same sauce, and, like magic, was transported to my mom’s dining room, with 30-degree weather and the neighbor’s dogs barking next door. And then, suddenly, 6000 miles away from Manila, in freezing Denmark, I found home.

Ingredients

  • 1 to 2 pounds chicken thighs
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup rice vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 7 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 whole chili or a pinch of dried chili flakes
  • 1½ teaspoons sugar

Method

  • In a large bowl or a resealable plastic bag, combine all the ingredients to form a marinade. Add the chicken and marinade in the fridge for 1-2 hours or, for best results, overnight.
  • Place the chicken and marinade in a large pot and bring it to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat and let it simmer for 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked thoroughly. Stir occasionally.
  • Once the chicken is cooked, place the pieces on a roasting pan and place under the broiler for 5 to 7 minutes until the skin is brown and caramelized. Meanwhile, reduce the marinade to a thick sauce by bringing the pot to a medium boil.
  • Return the chicken to the pot and coat it with the reduced sauce. Serve on steamed rice and drizzle with sauce. Enjoy.

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