The Philippines has a rich and colorful history. Colonized by Spanish in the last 16th century, there is much Spanish influence of language and religion that permeates the Filipino culture. Later, the flow of the Chinese traders that would come through the Philippines would influence their food and flavors. The combination of these two countries has brought us what some consider to be the national dish of the Philippines: Chicken Adobo. Their influence is apparent through this dish – the process of marinating meat from the Spanish and the flavoring of the salty soy sauce from China.
In the Philippines, Lola means “grandmother.” My grandmother is an amazing cook who would spend her time preparing traditional meals for her large family – from sotanghon to filipino spaghetti to pancit. This adobo recipe was given to my mother who would prepare it for her family, and now, as she has also recently become a Lola herself, she has passed it on to me. There’s something special about preparing a recipe that has been in your family for decades. To know that the steps I follow and the ingredients I reach for are the same ingredients reached by my mother and her mother before her adds something so indescribably sentimental to this dish.
Lola's Chicken Adobo
- 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1/2 medium onion, sliced thin
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 cup water
- steamed white rice, for serving
- In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the garlic and quickly stir to prevent burning. Add the onions and fry for 2-3 minutes. Place the chicken thighs in the pan and cook on all sides until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
- Add the rice vinegar and stir for 1 minute before adding the soy sauce, bay leaves, and black pepper. Stir for 4-5 minutes to combine, then add the water. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring often. Taste to adjust seasonings, then serve over a bed of steamed white rice.
- Note: Many variations of Chicken Adobo call for the chicken to be marinated. If desired, the chicken can be marinated in the soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, bay leaves, and black pepper for a few hours before cooking. When preparing the recipe, simply brown the chicken and then add the water.
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