Filipino Delight: The Alluring Chicken Adobo

Flipping through the pages of “101 Easy Asian Recipes” by Lucky Peach introduced me to the rich traditions of chicken adobo. This culinary gem, with its heartwarming flavors, has since secured a treasured spot on my menu.

Understanding the Essence of Chicken Adobo

Chicken Adobo, a staple in Filipino homes, crafts an intimate experience of cultural expression. This dish masterfully blends chicken with a balanced dance of soy sauce, bright vinegar, aromatic garlic, and the bold punch of black peppercorns. Though it reminds many of other Asian delights, its vinegar-rich base elevates it, providing a unique identity.

The Creamy Contrast: Coconut Milk

Not every Adobo preparation sings praises of coconut milk, but the Lucky Peach rendition adds a creamy texture, balancing the piquancy of vinegar and the deep notes of soy. It’s essential to tread lightly with soy sauce selections, as lighter versions can disrupt the balance with overpowering saltiness.

Making Adobo Your Own

The charm of this dish lies in its malleability. If dried red chilies play hard to get, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes will do. No whole peppercorns? Ground black pepper steps up. In your kitchen, the everyday distilled white vinegar blends seamlessly. However, the crowning moment is when this flavorful masterpiece pairs with fluffy steamed rice, capturing the essence of the sauce.


  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 5 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 tablespoon of your preferred oil
  • 14 oz. can of coconut milk
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup mild soy sauce (lighter versions can overshadow the dish’s subtlety)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup of either distilled white or cane vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar for balance
  • 1 teaspoon of either black peppercorns or its ground alternative
  • 2 aromatic bay leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • A touch of dried red chili (for those who fancy a spicy kick)
  • 2 tablespoons of garden-fresh cilantro

Guided Steps to Culinary Bliss

  1. Begin by ensuring the chicken pieces are clean and patted dry. In a sizable skillet or Dutch oven, heat oil until it whispers, and let each chicken piece bask until golden.
  2. Welcome the coconut milk, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and spices into this gathering, immersing them in conversation. As they murmur with gentle bubbles, reduce the heat. Maintain this gentle embrace for about an hour, occasionally greeting with a touch of hot water if it appears too thick.
  3. In the final act, about ten minutes from completion, elevate the heat to thicken the sauce, ensuring it remains creamy. Serve this lavish creation atop a generous portion of steamed rice, dressed with cilantro, and let every bite transport you to a Filipino soiree.
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