Chicken Adobo (Quick Version!)

IMG_0423Food has been referred to as culture’s most powerful expression. It’s interesting to think about how many ethnic foods we consume on a regular basis without ever visiting the cultures of origin.

The first time I came across a recipe for Chicken Adobo was in The Splendid Table’s How To Eat Supper by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift. It’s a great recipe, but it involves overnight marinating. My goal here is to retain the flavors in a quick version of the dish. If you like the quick version, by all means check out the longer version at some point. There are actually countless versions of this dish on-line.

“Adobo” is the Spanish word for marinade. In the Philippines, it is common to marinate chicken pieces (usually legs and thighs on the bone) in vinegar, garlic, soy sauce, pepper and bay leaves; then cook it in the marinade and brown the cooked meat as a final step. There are lots of variations on the basic recipe. The dish is then served with white rice.

Here’s a quick version with the same flavor base:

1 TBS oil
8 boneless chicken thighs (cut into bite-sized pieces)
2 C chopped onions
5 garlic cloves, minced
6 TBS soy sauce
3 TBS water
3 TBS white (or cider) vinegar
2 TBS honey
1/2 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf
white rice


1. Heat the oil in a large skillet and saute the chicken until lightly browned. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
2. Add the chopped onions to the pan and saute for about 3 minutes; add the garlic and cook for another minute or so.
3. Combine the soy sauce, water, vinegar, honey, pepper and bay leaf in a measuring cup or jar.
4. Return the chicken to the pan with the onions and garlic; add the soy sauce mixture. Bring to a boil.
5. Reduce the heat. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes; uncover and cook for another 5 minutes or so until the sauce thickens.
6. Discard the bay leaf and serve over white rice. This should serve 3 or 4 people, depending on appetites.

This dish can be cooked immediately before serving. Its flavors actually deepen and improve if you make it earlier in the day and re-heat it while the rice cooks for dinner.


About Mary Jane

I am a retired English teacher. My husband, Frank, and I have lived on Cape Cod since 2000. I am a lifelong bread baker and writer and have been posting a blog on Falmouth Patch for the last few years. Savory Seasons has been largely devoted to recipes and food in general. I am hoping to expand my focus in this new blog.
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