Food and Leisure

Home Is Where The Adobo Is

COME FRY WITH ME - Johanna Garcia - The Philippine Star

I just got back from a six-week trip to the US. The last time I took a break this long, I still had summer vacation breaks in my life. And, despite a few pangs of guilt about being a slacker, I loved every single day of it (well, except maybe for the last few days that literally ended with a terrifying bang, but that’s for another article). 

I went to Denver for a seminar and graduation ceremony from a health and wellness coaching course I’d been taking, to New York to take more cooking classes, and hop, bop and shop around the city I called home for nine years, and San Francisco to spend time with family members and friends who are near and dear to my heart in every way except geographical.

And, of course, I ate. I ate at old places I used to love, new places I learned to love, places I learned to cook what I loved and food made by people I loved. And even as I feasted gleefully on Japanese, Chinese, Peruvian, Mexican, Italian, French, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food, my San Francisco-based sister and I woke up one day with the same intense craving for the food of my people.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be featuring what I ate and where, what I learned and loved, and recipes that either recreate my favorites or were inspired by it. But for today, I’m happy to share a recipe for what is probably nearly every Filipino’s idea of comfort food: adobo.

I usually make my grandmother’s adobo, because it’s the best in the world, although I suspect everyone says that about their own family’s adobo recipe. When the mood hits, though, I play around with an adobo recipe sourced, of all places, from The New York Times.  It’s got street cred, though, given that it was provided by Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan of Cendrillon and Purple Yam fame.

The original recipe is for chicken adobo but my family’s idea of adobo always includes pork, so I adapted accordingly. Funnily enough, none of us ate much of the pork, but we still complained when it was left out. So, my mom would take the leftover pork and turn it into binagoongan. Win-win, no?

But feel free to do what you prefer, whether it’s all-chicken, all-pork or a combination of both. I like mine with a tomato relish and bagoong on the side, because my family is sharply divided when it comes to bagoong. But, depending on where you stand on this polarizing issue, feel free to mix it in, or even leave it out altogether. No matter how you slice and accessorize it, it’s still a great big pot of comfort that reminds you, be it ever so traffic, that there’s no place like home.

Chicken-Pork Adobo

(Loosely adapted from “Chicken Adobo” by Sam Sifton in The New York Times)

Serves 4-6


1 cup coconut cream, preferably fresh

¼ cup soy sauce

1½ cups coconut or cane vinegar

24 garlic cloves, 12 peeled and 12 minced

3 whole bird’s-eye chilies

3 bay leaves

1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

4 pounds chicken thighs and pork or any combination thereof


1. Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a large, nonreactive bowl or re-sealable plastic freezer bag. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Refrigerate overnight.

2. Set chicken aside. Place pork and marinade in a large lidded pot or Dutch oven over high heat and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the pork is cooked through (around 30 minutes). Add chicken and simmer until chicken is cooked through (around an additional 30 minutes).

3. Heat broiler. Transfer meat to a large bowl, raise heat under the pot to medium-high, and reduce the sauce until it achieves almost the consistency of cream, about 10 minutes. Remove bay leaves and chilies.

4. Place meat on a roasting pan and place under broiler for 5 to 7 minutes until they begin to caramelize. Remove, turn chicken, baste with sauce and repeat, 3 to 5 minutes more. Return chicken to sauce and cook for a few minutes more before serving.

Tomato, Onion And Cilantro Relish


1 large ripe tomato, sliced into ½” chunks, juice reserved

1 red onion, finely chopped

¼ cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon bagoong (optional)

Mix chopped tomato and onion in the tomato juice and let stand for at least 20 minutes.

Stir in bagoong (if using) and cilantro leaves immediately before serving.

Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve alongside adobo.

* * *

For questions, comments and suggestions, email me at [email protected], visit my website www.realgirltoykitchen.com or follow me on FB (Real Girl Toy Kitchen)/IG: realgirltoykitchen.


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