Family Recipes Series: Chicken Adobo

Born in the Philippines, my dear friend Sam is quite the multi-cultural man, and very handsome and fit to boot. He loves and enjoys food so much and I love dining with him because of this. Coming from a very close knit family, I was very appreciative when he wrote up a post for Chasing James Beard for our family recipes series. Lets see what him and his family have to say about classic chicken adobo shall we?

Sam Says:

Chicken Adobo

– Just a little bit of history, adobo has become the classic Filipino dish over the years. Everyone has a different recipe from person to person, from family to family, and from region to region in the Philippines. The main ingredients are always vinegar and soy sauce, but most people use sugar as well. There is always a pepper, either fresh red chili pepper or black pepper corn. Some make it with a soup/stock and others prefer a dryer kind with the sticky gooey juices of the chicken. I prefer the latter. Anyway, here is the recipe.


–       Garlic ([my family] prefers to put TONS of garlic but 5-6 cloves will suffice)

–       One small whole white onion

–       black pepper corn – about one teaspoon

–       clove – 2/3 pieces

–       dry basil leaves – one or two

–       3 tablespoons oil

–       1/4 cup of soy sauce

–       1/4 cup of vinegar

–       1/8 cup of sugar – or to taste

–       1 1/2 lbs. of chicken wings (halved Buffalo wings style)

Heat up a skillet. Heat up the oil. Then, sauté the garlic and onion. Fry the chicken wings in the oil until the skin turns golden brown, but do not cook fully. Pour the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and add the spices. Put a lid to seal all the flavors as the juice reduces and thickens. Turn off the heat when the chicken is cooked

It’s a very simple dish and almost everything is to taste.  It’s definitely difficult to explain what it should taste like, but aim for something that you’re most comfortable with. Southeast Asians like to hit all the spots of the palette, so the dish tastes sweet, sour, salty all at the same time. If you want you can even add msg for the umami flavor. Like I said, everyone has a different recipe and this is how my mother makes it.


-Joyce Huang


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