This recipe has nothing to do with being quick and easy and amazingly, I did not find it on Pinterest! It’s all about food of love, the meals that bring you joy and are reminiscent of home. When I moved out of my parents’ house, I seriously missed my dad’s cooking (and completely took for granted having dinner cooked for me every night), especially the Filipino food. I would come home on Sundays to eat and learn how to cook my favorite meals, which is not that easy when your dad doesn’t measure. I’m much more into baking by nature, the exact measurements are comforting, letting me know whatever I’m making is going to come out ‘right’. So while I watched my dad pinch and pour things into the pot, I’d frantically ask, “So how much?” And he’d say, “Uh, maybe a quarter cup?” I’d scribble it down and hope for the best. I think that’s truly the sign of a good cook, someone who is so instinctive about it and it just comes out amazing. I am nowhere near that level, but I’m understanding why it’s hard to be so exact when cooking, especially meals like this. The way my dad makes chicken adobo is different than how my aunt makes it. At our big family parties, I can tell who made this pancit or that kare kare because the way it tastes. It’s almost as if whoever made it has left their signature in the flavor of the dish, and despite the fact they go by the same name, there are subtle differences that make it their own.
So here is my recipe for chicken adobo that I learned from watching my dad, but also have revised a bit on my own. My dad doesn’t put sugar in his, I do because I still haven’t quite figured out the right soy sauce to vinegar ratio despite his measurement suggestions. I also started putting the chicken under the broiler for a few minutes at the end just to get a little more color into the skin. Otherwise, it has all the basic ingredients that are typical of the dish.
5-6 chicken thighs, trimmed (you can use a mix of white and dark or cut up a whole chicken like my dad does, but we like dark meat in our house)
1/4 cup apple cider or white vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
3-4 garlic cloves minced
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup water
2 bay leaves
1. Trim chicken of any excess fat and place in a pot.
2. Mix together soy sauce, vinegar, water, sugar, garlic and peppercorns. Pour over chicken and add in the bay leaves. Bring pot to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce to a summer.
3. After 20 minutes, turn chicken skin side down, recover pot and simmer for another 20 minutes.
At this point, I taste the sauce. Maybe it’s too salty and you need more vinegar. Or too sour, you need more sugar. Whatever it is, you can adjust it to your taste buds now.
The remaining steps are completely optional, I just do it because I like it. And so Ava doesn’t end up chewing on a rogue peppercorn.
4. Remove chicken from pot and place on a baking sheet lined with foil. Broil for 3-5 minutes, or until skin is lightly browned.
5. Strain sauce through a sieve then return to pot. Continue to let sauce simmer on low uncovered for 5-10 minutes to let it thicken a bit more.
6. Return chicken to pot or pour sauce into a dish with chicken. Serve with white rice.
This dish is actually really easy if you stick to the first 3 steps, it’s one of those one pot meals that doesn’t need a lot of coddling. I definitely fall back on it when I don’t have a lot of time to make dinner or I don’t want to make dinner at all and need something simple. Mostly, I make it when I’m getting that home-cooked food craving because I always have the ingredients I need on hand. Whatever the reason, I’m always satisfied by it.