Filipino Adobo.. and a Giveaway!

My family moved from the Philippines to Boston in 2000, and our go-to dish, like so many other Filipinos living abroad, is adobo. It does not matter that the dish takes hours to cook and the smell of it stays in the apartment complex for days – it brings us a taste of home. All Filipino families each have their own recipes for adobo. Basically, it is any meat or any combination of meats that is braised and simmered in vinegar, soy sauce, lots of garlic, black peppercorn, and bay leaves. Every family claims that their version is the best. Of course, that cannot be true since my family’s version is the best.

That was my blurb for Molly O’Neill’s One Big Table, where my recipe for pork and chicken adobo was featured. Adobo is the national dish of the Philippines. I love adobo, especially my family’s version, but I rarely make it myself. I always come up with several excuses: it takes too long to cook, it’s not that healthy, I can’t find the right cuts of pork, etc etc. But really the main reason is that I am almost intimidated by it; I’m scared I won’t do it justice, and that it won’t be up to par with my food-loving family’s dishes.

But I’ve been getting more and more questions from friends and readers why I don’t have any Filipino recipes on my blog (short answer: the Filipino dishes I like are labor intensive and I’m too lazy) and lately, I’ve been craving adobo like no other. The cold weather is making me want comfort food. And what better comfort food is there than a recipe that has been with your family for decades, a dish that ties a nation together, something that reminds me of home sweet home?

So today my dear readers, I would like to share my recipe for Pork and Chicken Adobo. I hope it brings you some warmth, some love, and some happiness. From my family to yours:

my pork and chicken adobo simmering for hours

2 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 lb pork belly
1 1/4 cup white vinegar
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup water
10 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespons olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 dried bay leaves

Put the chicken, pork, vinegar, soy sauce, bay leaves, and seven of the smashed garlic cloves in a shallow pot over medium heat. Add one cup water, plus more oif necessary, to barely cover the meat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and summer for 1 hour.

Use slotted spoons to remove the chicken and pork and set aside. Allow the broth to continue simmering. Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the rest of the garlic. Pat the pork and chicken dry and sear each piece in the olive oil on all sides until golden brown. Return the chicken and pork to the pot, reduce the sauce by simmering for another hour to half an hour, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens.

Adobo is traditionally served with white rice (or better yet, garlic fried rice).

Some notes: this recipe is slightly modified from the original recipe that appeared in One Big Table. Also, the pork belly will render a lot of fat, so make sure to skim off the fats and clear juice that rise up to the top. I probably skimmed off more than a cup’s worth. And two things I implore you to follow: use whole peppercorns, and please, use whole garlic cloves – not the chopped up garlic in jars. These two ingredients will make your adobo taste richer and of course, more authentic.

the pork and chicken will be fork-tender

When I spoon some of the the brown garlicky sauce over the meats and some rice, I am transported back to my family’s dinner table. It is, truly, a taste of home.

There are many variations of adobo, and depending on the region in the Philippines, it is cooked very differently: some use pork and beef, some just plain chicken, and some even use squid. Some add coconut milk, while others add hard boiled eggs. Some omit the soy sauce completely, while other recipes call for fish sauce. Some families make their versions more sauce-y, while other are drier. There are also wonderful vegetarian adobo recipes using green beans (adobong sitaw) and water spinach (adobong kangkong).

And now for the giveaway!

I am going to send one of you a copy of Molly O’Neill’s One Big Table! I have not been compensated in any way for this – I just feel like sharing something I love :) All you have to do to enter the giveaway is leave a comment below telling me what is your favorite family recipe. I will pick the winner next Sunday. Good luck!


44 Responses to “Filipino Adobo.. and a Giveaway!”

  1. #
    Renee {Eat.LiveBlog} posted January 30, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    I love traditional family recipes, thanks for sharing! My favorite is a German meatball recipe I actually wrote up a few months ago.

  2. #
    Lara posted January 30, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    This looks great! I agree – it’s hard to find time to cook everything you want to – and to find more time to write about it!

    I love all of my grandma’s cooking- but her dressing (aka stuffing) is my favorite. And my grandpa makes out of this world pies.

  3. #
    Elizabeth posted January 30, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Sounds delicious. I love that you have a recipe in that cookbook!

  4. #
    Alicia posted January 30, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    My mom’s fish stew is one of my favorite things by far. It’s like cioppino but has linguica in it (what Portuguese food doesnt?). I NEED to try your adobo recipe though, it sounds delicious. I love that so much of your comfort food comes from your family and culture. Whenever I think of comfort food I definitely think of some of my favorite Portuguese dishes.

  5. #
    Megan posted January 30, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    My dad is a chef, and my mom cooks a million things, so it’s sooo hard for me to choose a favorite. There are things that have a lot of meaning for me like eggplant parmesan, meatloaf, and stuffed cabbage because my mom and I spent a whole day making them together and stocking up my freezer. There are dishes like clams casino that my dad makes for me every Christmas. There’s Portuguese bread that my mom learned to make from her mom and now makes for us. I could go on and on. I love your post, and it really made me think about some special family moments and meals.

    Congrats again on being featured in the cookbook!

  6. #
    Laura posted January 30, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    My favorite family recipe is for pierogies. When my Babci would make them, she’d simply take a bit of onion and add it to farmers cheese to fill the homemade dough. A few years ago, I decided to give it a go myself, which I hadn’t before because it is quite a task! Anyhow, I sautéed some onions, pureed half into the cheese and then just added the other half. Then I added some thyme, totally not part of the recipe, but the finished product was amazing and no one ever complained about it’s authenticity. I must mote however, that my Babci’s pierogies will always taste the best.

  7. #
    Jun Belen posted January 30, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    The New York Times article by Sam Sifton came to mind while reading your post. There are so many different ways of cooking adobo, each recipe with a story behind it. Thank you for sharing yours. I may have to say that the family recipe nearest and dearest to me is…. pork adobo!! Only because it was the very first dish I made when I moved to California 12 years ago. Again, congrats on being featured in the cookbook!

  8. #
    wysgal posted January 30, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Where do you find pork belly in American supermarkets?

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted January 31, 2011 at 3:13 pm

      @wysgal – I bought all the ingredients at Whole Foods :)

  9. #
    Susan posted January 30, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    Thanks for sharing this! That looks delicious. I think my favorite family recipe is my mom’s mashed potatoes.

  10. #
    Michelle posted January 30, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    My favorite family recipe is definitely Korean jajangmyun or dukboki. I’ve made both of these dishes in my own kitchen.

    Congrats on being featured in the book!

  11. #
    Meg Bressette posted January 31, 2011 at 5:09 am

    Thanks for sharing this recipe! It looks like the cure for the cold-weather blues and I hope that you enjoyed it. I am adding this to my recipes that must be made pile!

    Our family’s favorite recipe currently is Dijon Pork served with a mushroom rosemary dijon cream sauce. This past week when I made it I added some black forest bacon and creme fraiche to the sauce and this is a dish that continued to get better and better. Although this time around this dish was not particularly low-fat I have many times made this in a way that makes it low in fat and healthier by using skim evaporated milk and greek yogurt to thicken the sauce.

    Congratulations on being featured in the cookbook!


  12. #
    MelissaNibbles posted January 31, 2011 at 5:30 am

    This looks great. My mom’s lasagna is definitely a family fave.

  13. #
    Melanie posted January 31, 2011 at 10:04 am

    This recipe sounds delicious and very inspired by your heritage which is awesome. My favorite is definitely pasta with homemade gravy (sauce) and meatballs…. a Sunday staple in many Italian homes that I couldn’t live without!

    Congrats again for being featured in this cookbook… so awesome!

  14. #
    Emily @ A Cambridge Story posted January 31, 2011 at 10:38 am

    This is so timely! I saw chicken adobo on the food network yesterday and wondered about its authenticity. Now I know I have access to a really good recipe! My favorite family recipe is either my mom’s German spaetzel (she has the coolest spaetzel maker that is like 100 years old!) and my grandmother’s famous sugar cookies, in which she uses almond extract instead of vanilla. Congrats on the cookbook feature!!

  15. #
    carla posted January 31, 2011 at 11:09 am

    okay, something is wrong here. i am getting the adobo recipe all the way from boston! hahahahaha! :P

    jem and i were just talking about it this morning — if i’m going to cook adobo and i was like…maybe i’ll find a recipe on the net!!!!! you’re the best biancs!!! *hugs*

  16. #
    Kristina posted January 31, 2011 at 11:15 am

    my fiance would be obsessed with this!!!

  17. #
    Jessi posted January 31, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Ohhh my favorite family recipe we call Winter Wonder. I have no idea why. It’s angel hair pasta tossed with olive oil, shrimp pan friend with olive oil & minced garlic (I personally add a little vinegar). Mix in some grated parmesan cheese and a bunch of dill and you are good to go! It’s my favorite comfort food.

  18. #
    Shannon posted January 31, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    My favorite family recipe is my dad’s veggie lentil lasagna…it’s so nutritious and delicious…he even whips it up on Thanksgiving because we love it so much. :)

  19. #
    Brian @ A Thought For Food posted January 31, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    This is so incredibly generous of you to do a giveaway.

    There are just too many family recipes to name… I have a very special place in my heart for Forgotten Cookies, which are these light meringues that bake in the oven over night (hence the name).

  20. #
    Erin posted January 31, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    This looks delicious! I know what you mean about being in the mood for comfort food. I wish I had some of this right now!

  21. #
    Daisy posted January 31, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    I enjoyed this recipe and learning about adobo. Congrats on being featured in this cookbook. I love my mom’s eggplant parm and make it often.

  22. #
    Everett posted January 31, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    My mouth has been watering since the first paragraph. I have no secret receipt; just insatiable hunger for delicious food.

  23. #
    Lizzy posted January 31, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    So amazing that you are in the book!! That is SO COOL!! I would love to win this book!!

    My favorite family recipe is my Nana’s Brisket. It is SO GOOD. She braises it for hours and its just delicious : )

  24. #
    Heather posted January 31, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    That looks really tasty, I can practically taste it right now. Great post and description of it!

    My favorite family recipe is my Mom’s homemade pasta sauce. I’ve asked her for the recipe, but she says that she’s been making it so long she just goes by feeling not by recipe. I told her next time she makes it she has to stop and take the time to write it out!

  25. #
    Dana posted January 31, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    It’s funny, I recently read a recipe that called for “left over chicken adobo” and I was wondering how to make it. Sounds so delicious!

  26. #
    Nikita posted January 31, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    My family favorite recipe is my mom’s fish curry (Indian fish curry), it has very few ingredients, but she is a master at cooking it, it is little spicy and oh so yummy with rice. Curry is made of tamarind paste with pinch of salt, sugar, flour, green chilies, cilantro, garlic, red-garam masala, oil and of course the fish. Just like life, you have to get the right balance of sweet and sour and then it is perfect in taste.

  27. #
    Susan posted February 1, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    That adobo looks fantastic!! I have to say our family favorite is my mom’s awesome recipe for dal/sambar. Which is a vegetable soup type dish that you serve over rice. Lately I’ve been eating it like soup. Comfort in a bowl for sure!

  28. #
    Megan posted February 2, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Ohhh that adobo looks so tender and delicious!

    My favorite family recipe is my mom’s Shepherd’s Pie. There’s nothing quite like a hunk of mashed potatoes spread generously over ground beef, onions, and sweet creamed corn. It’s the best comfort food in my book.

  29. #
    Liz posted February 2, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    How exciting to be in this book! The recipe looks delicious.

    One of my favorite family recipes is my grandma’s matzo ball soup: it’s my favorite comfort dish AND it’s healthy enough that I can enjoy as much of it as I’d like!

  30. #
    Erin posted February 2, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    I forgot to include my favorite family recipe! It’s my Nana’s blueberry muffins. They are so delicious. Also, my Gram’s hamloaf which sounds kinda disgusting, but I swear, it’s home cooking at it’s best!

  31. #
    Courtney (Pancakes & Postcards) posted February 2, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    that sounds amazing! I love adobo!

    My dad actually grew up in Turkey, so my favorite family dish is this turkish meal that starts with a base of cooked phyllo dough or other bread cut into chunks, which is then topped with strips of this AMAZING braised beef, which is then smothered with a yogurt sauce and paprika butter. All of the flavors kind of smoosh together and it is seriously delicious.

  32. #
    Tania posted February 2, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    I have to disagree with you on one small point: my family makes the best adobo. :)
    Good recipe though… ours is pretty similar actually. No coconut milk!

  33. #
    Clarkie @ Beloved Green posted February 4, 2011 at 12:31 pm


    Anyways, my favorite family recipe is actually my mom’s chili. It is so simple, but it is one of those comfort foods you grow up with and whenever I am feeling like a bit of home, that is what I make.

  34. #
    Kerstin posted February 5, 2011 at 12:44 am

    I love reading about traditional family recipes and am definitely saving this one! Sounds so flavorful!

  35. #
    Kerstin posted February 5, 2011 at 12:46 am

    Oh, I was so memorized by the adobo that I forgot to enter the giveaway, haha. My favorite family recipe are my mom’s brownies!

    And congrats on your recipes being in the book – so cool!!

  36. #
    Kerstin posted February 5, 2011 at 12:47 am

    mesmerized, haha, ok, I’m going to bed, I’m obviously too sleepy!

  37. #
    nicole posted February 6, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    I have so many family recipes that I love, but the one that i am most connected to is meatballs and marinara sauce. I gre up eating meatballs every time I went to visit my poppy. When he died I couldn’t think of anything else to do but make them at night. So after leaving work early I went food shopping to get everyhing I needed. my boyfriend and i did not eat until 11 that night but it didn’t matter the sauce and meatballs were fantastic.

  38. #
    Jennifer posted February 6, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    My favorite family recipe is for a chocolate pound cake with chocolate fudge icing. My favorite memories of it are watching family fight over who got to scrape chocolate out of the center of the cake.

  39. #
    Megan posted February 16, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    Yum! I have yet to make adobo with pork…sounds so yummy! Thanks for visiting my blog and sharing this recipe with me, I can’t wait to try it out!!

  40. #
    Katie posted February 18, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    Peanut butter balls! It’s not Christmas in our family without them:)

  41. #
    Rebecca Tricker posted June 30, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    My favorite Filipino Family Food is Dinuguan! Unfortunately I don’t know how to make it so when I go home to visit my Nanay she always makes it for me! The favorite in my house that my family requests me to make is always Adobo, fried rice and lumpia! My boys even request it as the food they want every year on the birthday and their friends end up liking it and always asking them the next time your mom cooks this again call me!


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