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Cooking

Adobo recipes for marinated then braised pork, chicken

Dishes with Filipino flavor.

Garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, bay leaves, and black pepper are the key ingredients in Filipino adobo.

Photograph by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty

Garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, bay leaves, and black pepper are the key ingredients in Filipino adobo.

The word “adobo” means different things in different cultures. In the Latin American context, it’s usually a seasoning mixture or marinade. In the Philippines, it’s as much a cooking method, braising or stewing, as it is a specific quintet of flavors — soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, black pepper, and bay leaves. Chicken and pork make particularly popular adobos, though fish, shellfish, and vegetables also get the treatment.

Here, I’m including a basic Filipino-style chicken adobo, a variation with coconut milk (other regional variations include chicken livers and turmeric), and a lightly sweetened pork adobo with pineapple that turns up in Hawaii.

FILIPINO-STYLE CHICKEN ADOBO

Serves 6

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This recipe uses the unusual technique, borrowed from Cook’s Illustrated, of starting the chicken in a cold pan.

12 bone-in chicken thighs

½ cup soy sauce

Salt and pepper

1/3 cup cider vinegar

1 onion, thinly sliced

3 bay leaves

8 garlic cloves, minced

3-4 scallions, thinly sliced

Hot, freshly cooked white rice, for serving

In a shallow bowl, toss the chicken and soy sauce; cover and refrigerate for 1 to 12 hours, turning chicken once or twice. Remove chicken, allowing excess soy sauce to drip back into the bowl, and reserve the soy sauce. Blot the chicken with paper towels and sprinkle very lightly with salt.

Arrange half the chicken skin side down in a large, nonstick straight-sided saute pan (do not crowd), set the pan over medium-high heat, and cook, undisturbed, until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Turn and cook until second side is browned, about 4 minutes longer; transfer chicken to a large plate and pour off and reserve the fat from the pan. Adjust heat to medium and cook remaining chicken about 6 minutes on the skin side and 4 minutes after turning, adjusting the heat if the fond threatens to burn. Pour off the fat. When chicken is cool enough, remove and discard the skin.

Adjust heat to medium-high, add ¾ cup water, and bring to a strong simmer, scraping the pan to dissolve any fond. Once the pan is deglazed, stir this water and the vinegar together with the reserved soy sauce and set aside.

Wipe out the pan, adjust heat to medium, add 2 teaspoons reserved chicken fat, and heat. Add onion, bay leaves, and ½ teaspoon salt, and saute until onion is soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and 2 teaspoons pepper and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the soy-vinegar mixture, adjust heat to medium-high, and bring to a strong simmer, scraping the pan again. Add the chicken with accumulated juices and return to a simmer. Adjust heat to very low, cover, and simmer gently until the chicken is cooked through, 35 to 40 minutes, turning pieces after 20 minutes. Transfer chicken to a serving platter, tent with foil, and set aside.

Adjust heat to medium-high and bring the liquid to a strong simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and glossy, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, taste the sauce, and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Top the chicken with the sauce, sprinkle with the scallions, and serve with the rice.

Variation

FILIPINO-STYLE CHICKEN ADOBO WITH GINGER AND COCONUT MILK

Photograph by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty

TIP In the pork adobo recipe, you’ll need some pineapple juice, hence canned fruit packed in juice (don’t buy the stuff in syrup).

Follow the recipe for Filipino-Style Chicken Adobo, making following changes:

1) Reduce the quantity of water to ¼ cup.

2) Add 2½ tablespoons chopped fresh ginger and 2 Thai or serrano chilies, halved lengthwise (with seeds), along with the garlic. At the end of cooking, remove the chili pepper halves along with the bay leaves.

3) Add ¾ cup coconut milk to the soy-vinegar mixture before adding to the pan.

4) Substitute ¼ cup chopped cilantro for the scallions.

HAWAIIAN-STYLE PORK ADOBO WITH PINEAPPLE

Serves 6

3½ pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1½-inch chunks

½ cup soy sauce

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons neutral oil

1 20-ounce can pineapple chunks in juice, chunks refrigerated and juice reserved (about 1 cup)

½ cup cider vinegar

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

2 onions, thinly sliced

6 bay leaves

12 garlic cloves, minced

3 scallions, thinly sliced

Hot, freshly cooked white rice, for serving

In a shallow bowl, toss the pork and soy sauce; cover and refrigerate for 3 to 12 hours, turning the pork once or twice. Remove the pork, allowing the excess soy to drip back into the bowl, and reserve the soy sauce. Blot pork with paper towels and sprinkle lightly with salt.

In a large, nonstick straight-sided saute pan or covered skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add half the pork so that pieces are in a single layer but not touching, and cook, undisturbed, until deeply browned, about 3½ minutes. Turn and cook until second side is deeply browned, about 3 minutes longer; transfer the pork to a medium bowl. Add 2 more teaspoons of oil to the pan, allow to heat, and repeat to cook the remaining pork, adjusting the heat if the fond threatens to burn. Pour off as much fat as possible.

Return the pan to medium-high heat, add the juice and bring to a strong simmer, scraping the pan to dissolve any fond. Once the pan is deglazed, stir this juice, the vinegar, and the brown sugar into the reserved soy sauce and set aside.

Wipe out the pan, adjust heat to medium, add the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil, and heat until shimmering. Add the onions, bay leaves, and ½ teaspoon salt, and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and 1½ tablespoons pepper and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the soy-vinegar mixture, adjust heat to medium-high, and bring to a strong simmer, scraping the pan to dissolve any fond. Add the pork with its accumulated juices and return to a simmer. Adjust heat to very low, cover pan, and simmer gently until the pork is tender, about 2 hours. Transfer to a medium bowl, tent with foil, and set aside.

Adjust heat to medium-high and bring the liquid to a strong simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and glossy, about 8 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, taste the sauce, and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Return the pork to the pan, add the pineapple chunks, and simmer, stirring, to heat pineapple through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the adobo to a serving dish, sprinkle with the scallions, and serve at once with the rice.

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