When i was a young girl, one of the dishes i'd always ask my ma to cook was chicken adobo. it would inevitably be on the menu for my birthdays, usually followed up by a german chocolate cake for birthday cake.
when i'd come home from school i'd know instantly that we'd be having it for dinner, and i'd look forward to it with anticipation. the smell when it is cooking is kind of vinegary, but with a definite cooking chicken aroma.
i remember the first time i tried making it myself. i was at uni in texas. i phoned my mother up and she rattled off the recipe quickly while i tried my best to write everything down. i wasn't very good at gauging temperature and had the heat on way too high. before i knew it, all the marinade cooked away to a sticky mess with still underdone chicken starting to char on the outside. i think the next time i cooked it i made sure my mother was there to coach me and the results were much better.
like any adobo the meat is cooked in its marinade. you can find mexican adobo recipes using this same technique, but this is a definite filipino combination of flavours -- the marinade ingredients being grated white onion, garlic, lots of soy sauce, bay leaf and vinegar. it's that sour-salty combination that makes adobo adobo to me. most online recipes you find for chicken adobo usually specify white vinegar for the sour, but my mother uses lemon juice instead, and i of course follow her lead on that. she adds an extra step at the end, by moving the chicken and it's marinade to a hot oven so that the chicken skin browns and crisps up. my variation on that is to just broil the chicken under the grill. on the phone with her today i mentioned that i had also added grated ginger which she said is definitely not what she does in her adobo!
adobo should always be served with steamed white rice. my mother prefers Jasmine rice while i usually just stock up on basmati. jasmine rice is much more aromatic and more sticky than basmati, and when you drizzle the marinade over it becomes the perfect counterpart to the chicken. to keep things on the healthy side i usually steam up some broccoli to accompany it, or, when it's warmer out just have a crisp green salad.
the recipe below should be taken as a guide. i don't really measure out quantities for this one.
My Ma's Chicken Adobo (serves 4)
4 chicken legs. (you can joint them between drumstick and thigh or keep it all in one piece)
grated white onion
smashed garlic (i use about 6 cloves)
salt and pepper
- Make the marinade. Combine the onion, garlic, soy sauce, lemon juice and olive oil in a large casserole. Note on quantities below.
- Season the chicken pieces and add to the marinade. You should have enough marinade for the chicken pieces to be partly covered. If not enough, add more soy sauce and lemon juice.
- Add the bay leaf, cover and put on medium heat for about 35 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. From time to time, turn the chicken in the marinade so that all the sides are coated.
- Heat the grill. Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and place under the grill until well browned on all sides.
- Meanwhile, keep cooking the marinade, if it's too thick you can thin it down with some chicken stock, but it shouldn't be too thin.
- Serve the chicken with some steamed white rice and the adobo marinade (gravy) drizzled over everything.