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Filipino Chicken Adobo | Chicken with Pepper & Garlic

There are many things I will always think fondly of when it comes to my years in Singapore.

And though the gastronomic delights rank among the top 5, one of the singular things I miss most is the cultural diversity - people from all over the world living in a crush on a tiny speck of an island no more than 247 square miles was an exhilarating experience to say the least.

Not to mention the steamy tropical temperatures and rains that seemed to arrive every afternoon like clockwork.

When I accepted my first proper job post graduation, it was in Singapore and I was delighted to find myself surrounded by so many in the Filipino community. Working in one of the most stressful high-tempo environments on the planet, the humor of my Filipino colleagues helped all of us fellow expats get through the day and survive the work week with a sense of well being and all round jocularity.

As a community of expats we shared good humor through tough work days, a love for good food, large parties with loud music and dancing and now in retrospect realize all of these to be ways to blow off some serious steam after being worked to the bone.

My first experience in Makati City, Manila during my early teen years was riddled by memories of hawkers & dust, open air buses that never ever stopped - people simply jumped on and off them as well as some of the most lecherous gawking men I had ever come across in my life!

Needless to say my fellow Filipinos in Singapore were a welcome surprise. It was in the company of these friends that I learned all about chicken adobo and Deep Fried Milk Fish and pancit noodles which to this day some of my favorite foods in the world.

Especially on busy days with a little bit of planning before running off to work, Chicken Adobo always gallops to the rescue like a knight in shining armor on a white horse. My only problem with writing this post is whether a handful of qualifies as a recipe. The very name adobo refers to a common cooking process indigenous to the Philippines that involves stewing foods with vinegar.

To this is simply added a ton of garlic, ground black pepper, soy sauce, an onion and a couple of bay leaves. And the result is simply delicious. So here's to all my Filipino friends in Singapore and especially to Gigi, who made my life so much better, thank you.



Recipe for

Filipino Chicken Adobo

Serves 4-6

Note: This recipe requires overnight marinating.

Shopping list 1 qty 3-4 lbs. whole chicken

3/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup dark soy sauce

1 large yellow onion

2 tbsp. freshly finely chopped garlic

2-3 bay leaves

1-1/2 tbsp. ground black pepper (not a typo)

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp. canola oil


Chicken: Joint the chicken leaving skin on. Cut away and discard any excess fat. You can also ask your butcher to do this.

Onion: Cut away the ends, discard the skin and cut into 1/2" squares.

Marinade: In a mixing bowl, whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, salt and pepper.

Pour the marinade in a plastic Ziploc bag. Add the cut chicken pieces. Close the bag and toss the bag around so the marinade completely covers the chicken or rub with clean hands. Set aside for a minimum of 4 hours preferably overnight.


Heat the oil in a large chicken fryer or Dutch oven on medium high heat. Add the chicken pieces without the marinade and brown on all sides for about 10-15 minutes.

Add the onions and bay leaves and sauté for about 5-10 minutes until just beginning to turn translucent.

Add the marinade. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid. Cook for about 1 hour until the chicken is very tender and falling off the bone. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Cook's Note: The skin will release its fat and there will be a layer on the gravy. Use a fat separator to remove excess fat before serving or use kitchen paper towels to absorb the excess fat on the surface.

Serve immediately with steamed rice, roasted potatoes and salad.


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