Tuesday, August 22, 2006

My First Adobo


Yes! Yes! Yes! What for millions of Filipinos is something they can do in their sleep with one hand tied behind their back, is a major rite of passage and coming of age for me. Adobo is something I have never even thought of cooking myself...and with the number of people that do cook it, you never really have to. You can go your whole life just eating other people's adobo. Truth be told though, I was scared to try. Why be scared of what is basically a simple dish touted to be the calling card of Filipino cuisine and loved by almost all? Well, precisely because of that. Practically every Filipino out there has their own favorite Adobo...recipes they swear by, with a flavor they have loved their whole lives. Could I start from scratch and hazard an amateur attempt this late in the game? Find my way to Adobo nirvana when everyone else seemed to have left the starting gate generations ago? Hmmm...did I not learn to drive at the ripe old age of 29? Better late then never, and there is no time like the present to start my own Adobo tradition in my fledgling family.

So, as with most new dishes I try, I looked through cookbooks, asked my sources, and scanned through the internet. I found a recipe that I liked in Mae's fabulous Rice and Noodles. It was a recipe that looked delicious and at the same time sounded simple and undaunting. And, as with all her entries, was accompanied by a very appetizing picture! You can find her Chicken Adobo recipe here. One of the things I like about it is how she makes you mix all the ingredients for the sauce beforehand in jug, and, as she puts it:

"Stir well. Smell it. Taste it. Remember the smell and more importantly, the taste as this will be the basis of your next adobo adventure."
Enticing words and I was duly enticed! I set about getting all the ingredients together, and as you can see from the photo above, made sure to document the event! Including the "hidden Chichajo" in the pictures as I dorkily love doing.

Now, a fork in the road, chicken or pork adobo? C (who is a bigger adobo eater than me) likes chicken, I (surprise, surprise) like pork. And everyone, including my mother, advises against cooking chicken and pork together in one adobo. Logically because the cooking times differ. But I stubbornly use both and just fish the chicken out earlier, once it is done, and leave the pork to get tender.


So if you and your significant other, like C and I, are like Jack Sprat and his wife, then this may be the adobo for you.

The only things I changed from the original recipe were: adding the pork, nixing the potatoes (I didn't have any at the time), using regular soy sauce instead of light and dark, and cane vinegar (sukang puti) instead of malt vinegar (again, because of availability). I wanted to try reducing the sauce after the pork was done, but I ran out of gas. Thank goodness it was already done! Oh boy...adventures in adobo-making!

As I sat down to my first ever self-made adobo meal I was in heaven! It was definitely not bad for a first attempt, added to the disbelief that "yes, I finally managed it!", made for a very heart and tummy warming meal. And yes, C liked it too! :)

To try next time:
  1. Reducing sauce and re-frying the chicken and/or pork
  2. Shredding chicken and/or pork to make homemade "adobo flakes"
  3. Frying with rice to make adobo fried rice

33 comments:

anonymous paul said...

i have never tried cooking adobo. i mean, technically i could but i dont know why i've never tried doing it. most of the time i find leftover adobo in the fridge, shred the meat and do adobo flakes. i dont use too much oil, maybe 2 tbsp max for a cup and a half of shredded meat (lean pork works better i think, but chicken's fine). i stir-fry till crisp ....then i deglaze with a little sinamak (spiced vinegar, find the good stuff or make yourself) and throw in an inch or two worth of fresh rosemary (dried will work ok, but not as aromatic). a little sea salt. try it with your leftovers and let me know how you find it

Ipshi said...

I can imagine the pressure of cooking something that ppl in ur family already make really well .. so i try and branch out on my own and make a lot of food in the microwave (which is a domain neither my mom nor my sis hav mastered)

congratulations for ur success!

Lani said...

Job well done, Joey. Congrats!!!

angelika said...

How I have loved reading this particular story, Joey. And what else can you ask for (again) ? Believe, me, I know this scenario. I have cooked most adventurous dishes but have never (ever !) made a Wiener Schnitzel. Now, in our generation with young Moms and Grandmas, at least young in heart, we can rely on their skills for a long time, thanks to God. But one day we want to face the challenge... Have a great day and keep on cooking ! Hugs, angelika

Mae said...

Congratulations Joey!

Ow, i feel so honoured that you tried my recipe for your very first adobo adventure, and enjoyed it! Thanks for the mention :)

That photo is sooooo drool-worthy!

Yes indeed, the 'sukang puti' is a better option for the recipe and the choice is excellent! [i can't get that here, unfortunately, and i have come to get accustomed to the UK sarson's malt vinegar now :)]

You know, i've never tried mixing pork and chicken together - you've just inspired me... see? I might just cook some pork/chicken adobo tonight! :)

By the way, i passed my driving test just after my 28th birthday so you're not alone there.

Kalyn said...

Mae is a great source of cooking inspiration isn't she. Your version looks great.

ChichaJo said...

Hi anon Paul! Your way with leftover adobo sounds delicious! This is is defnitely something I would like to try...thanks for sharing it :)

Hi Ipshi! Thanks! I know what you mean...the same goes for paella in my family...sigh, one thing at a time :) Maybe I'll try to be a master of pork dishes...hmmm ;)

Hi Lani! Thank you :)

Hi Angelika! I so know exactly what you mean! My Adobo is your Wiener Schnitzel...haha! That put a smile on my face today :) Thank you and have a great day as well!

Hi Mae! Thanks! And thanks for the inspiration! Your recipe had a very "hand-holding" feel about it :) Sukang puti is everywhere here but hooboy if I have to look for malt vinegar...not as easy, hehe. Although I am on the look out because it's great with fish and chips! Since pork and chicken cook at different times you have to kinda have "phase 1-phase 2" cooking :) But worth it if you have a divided audience to feed. Glad I'm not alone in the "license over 18" set ;)

Hi Kalyn! Thank you :) And I agree 100%. I always find something great at Mae's...fantastic pictures and yummy (and easy to follow) recipes :)

Knittymommy said...

Hi Joey! We met a long time ago in HK (at the Tanjuatco's) when our Dads were still living there. Anyway, best wishes on your wedding to C. I heard about your wedding experience when some friends visited me here in the US. Anyway, my suggestion to you for adobo rice, is to use day old rice (for sinangag) and day-old adobo left overs. That always goes over well, specially for breakfast, after a night of partying. Take care, and thanks to the Gypsy Soul's blog, I am enjoying your experiments and gourmet creations. It's inspiring me to cook again, after getting so tied down with my life of being a working mom in the US.

SugarCocoon said...

I make chicken adobo, but since I'm a not so strict ovo-lacto-pesco vegetarian, I add tofu, mushrooms and hard boiled eggs, so that I have something to eat with white rice.

Pamela said...

Brilliant job done!!

Mila Tan said...

Congratulations Joey, and I'm glad you got your first adobo out of the way, now you can continue testing new recipes (darker soy, light soy, adding chicken livers, or pototoes or eggs even, braising the meat before stewing, or parboiling then frying the meat to caramelize it). So many options and recipes out there. I remember reading recently that Ruth Reichl just did an adobo in Gourmet magazine. Someone's blog wrote it up.

Mila Tan said...

addendum: I made my first (solo flight) adobo for a family dinner in the US. I used cornish hens and it was such a production, accidentally flambed the thing lol. Luckily the dish went down well and everyone ate it up.

ChichaJo said...

Hi there Knittymommy! I remember...boy, that was a long time ago no? :) Thanks for your best wishes from me & C! The adobo rice sounds champ! I will definitely try that one of these days...thanks for stopping by and for your nice comments :) You're knitting creations are great...especially that cute prayer shawl!

Hi Sugarcocoon! Interesting meatless versions...sounds good!

Hi Pamela! Thanks! :)

Hi Mila! Ya...whew! There are so many different variations to try! Hey, can you point me to the blog that wrote up Ruth Reichl's adobo? Sounds interesting! But not as interesting as Flambed Adobong Cornish Hen :)

christine said...

Wow Jo, for your first, that looks incredibly sarap! I like my adobo dark and the sauce thick, and of course with chicken instead of pork so my mom combines both also. Do you get that feeling sometimes with certain dishes, that no matter how many times you make it and how good you think it is, it always tastes better at someone else's house?

Very well done, Jo! :)

Elna Smith said...

Congratulations! You've made it! *-* Just like you, i did cook my first adobo after I got married. And I must admit, I haven't perfected it yet. I still had to measure the soy sauce, vinegar, etc. I do prefer the Visayan version (they call it "humba") with the addition of panutsa or brown sugar. My husband who is a Brit/Am boy loves adobo in all its variations and craves for them a lot more than I do.

alphafemme said...

your adobo looks yummy! congrats!

briliantdonkey said...

mmmmmm Adobo......it is one of my very very favorite dishes...... I have tried to make it 3 or 4 times all with disastrous results. I am not talking okay. I am not talking pretty bad. I am talking HORRIBLE!
I will have to try this recipe, thanks!

briliantdonkey said...

PS.....

anyone wanting to sell errrrr give away addresses of those making adobo email me

BD

Marketmanila said...

The first time I made adobo ever was in the communal kitchen of my dorm building in Boston, EGADS, the smell made me HIGHLY unpopular that day! Glad it turned out well...I am sure you will be an adobo expert before your first anniversary!

Bay_leaf said...

Well done! the end result looks really good. :)

Kakagutom tuloy.

ces said...

i also like the chicken and pork combi in adobo! congratulations for being brve enough to try it joey!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Nens! Thanks :) Yes, I know what you mean! Ang sarap ng "lutong bahay" ng iba :) Haha!

Hi Elna! I love humba! My husband is the real adobo lover...I will take humba any day :) In fact, my favorite version of adobo is an all pork one my mom's old cook used to make which was sweet!

Thanks Alphafemme and thanks for stopping by! :)

Hey there BD! Ah! An adobo lover! Where did you try it? What versions do you like? Do tell!

Hi Marketman! Thanks for the vote of confidence...I hope so! Sigh...I know what you mean about smells...am still getting up the nerve to make my favorite tuyo in my flat!

Hi Bay leaf! Thank you :)

Hi Ces! Thanks :) If it weren't for my husband this would have been all pork, heehee :)

iska said...

i understand when you said you can go your whole life without cooking it w/ all the other people around who can do it... that's how i was w/ pancit bihon.

congrats on your 1st adobo adventure, joey!

briliantdonkey said...

Joey:

I tried it when I was stationed in Germany with a Filipino friend of mine named Bonafacio Tee. His wife made it a few times when I was visiting and I was hooked. I am not sure what kind it was. I THOUGHT it was beef(like you would use for beef tips or stroganoff) but from what I gather it is usually pork or chicken so I must have been mistaken. All I know is it was too die for unlike mine which was to die from.

BD

ChichaJo said...

Hi Iska! Thanks :) Yes, it's easy to let these dishes "fix themselves" in other people's house...

Rob! Hahahahaha! You are too funny :) Yes, adobo is usually made with pork or chicken, but you can really use whatever you want (beef, etc), so it could very well have been beef. Mae, whose recipe I used, has made it with oysters!

Ria said...

Hi Joey,

Your site does not have your email? I'd like to ask you for information which is not related to this post, if that is okay.

Thanks!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Ria! :) You can email me at eighty_breakfasts@yahoo.com

angeljolie said...

I've tried cooking adobo several times, but none had been perfect so far. Congratulations on your first attempt. Your CPA (chicken-pork adobo, that is) looked tempting enough to make me want to try my luck cooking this dish again.

bearlet said...

i live in the US and my dear late lola from Malabon made catfish adobo for my high school grad party held w/ my non-asian friends. and they LOVED it! when i was a kid in the philippines, she used to make "adobong igat" (freshwater eel). mmmm... we can definitely adobo anything, huh?

ChichaJo said...

Hi Angeljolie! Thanks! And although this first attempt both looked and tasted good, I still need to fool around with it a bit...I think Adobo is one of those dishes, though simple, that you have to journey towards :)

Hi Bearlet! Both catfish and eel adobo sound amazing...as I do like both catfish and eel :) YUM!

Veron said...

hmmn, adobo, I just made it this week. I like pork myself and the "hungry" hubby likes chicken.
Love your site by the way :).

ChichaJo said...

Hi Veron! Thanks for your kind words :) Nice to know there is a pork/chicken couple out there too! :)

Anonymous said...

simply stopping by to say hello