Adobong Manok – Filipino Chicken Adobo

The second try (for 1st try, pls read Vinegret) was offered by a Postcrosser in the Philippines. Actually, I had never heard of the dish before although it has been known as ‘the world’s best chicken dish’ since Mark Bittman described it in his How to Cook Everything.

Googled and learnt Chicken Adobo is considered as the national dish of the Philippines. The unfamiliar name ‘adobo’ is derived from Spanish word ‘adobar’, which means ‘maninade’, ‘sauce’ or ‘seasoning’. The name comes from Spanish, but the cooking method is native, which had already existed before the Spanish colonisation in the late 16th and early 17th centuries (from wikipedia).

Both the ingredients and the process are quite simple despite so-called ‘the world’s best chicken dish’, so I decided to give it a try. There arose, however, two questions: If shoyu, Japanese soy sauce would work instead of Philippine one. Also wondered if pineapple chunks go well with Adobo as the sender of the recipe wrote, ‘you can add pineapple chunks’. Hmmmmmm, so I shot a message for some advice to one of my work colleagues from the Philippines who used to work in Japan. He had tried it with shoyu and commented, ‘it doesn’t taste the same, but not too bad’. He had neither eaten nor heard of the dish cooked with pineapple, but added, ‘every family has its own recipe’. Hmmmmmm, the solution applicable was… four experiments!! to cook with:

1. Chinese dark soy sauce (similar to Philippine soy sauce)
2. Chinese dark soy sauce and pineapple
3. Japanese soy sauce
4. Japanese soy sauce and pineapple

Ingredients (for 2 servings)

400 g chicken drumstick or thigh
salt and black pepper
2 small cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger root, minced or ground
1 tbsp vegetable oil (used sesame oil)
150 cc/g water
1 bay leaf
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp vinegar (used rice vinegar)
(optional: 100 g fresh pineapple chunks; 1 boiled egg; boiled string beans)


  1. Prick the chicken all over with a fork. Then season well with the salt and pepper and leave for 10 mins.
  2. Place the garlic in the oil on medium low heat, and stir constantly. Add ginger and cook until fragrant.
  3. Add the chicken and saute over medium heat until brown all sides.
  4. Pour in the water with the bay leaf and bring to boil.
  5. Stir in the soy sauce along with the boiled egg and cover with foil (on top of the liquid and chicken) or drop-lid so as to circulate heat and the liquid, which cooks the ingredients evenly, and simmer on lower heat for 20 mins.
  6. Add the vinegar and simmer for another 10 mins, and remove from heat.  *To help the liquid penetrate the chicken better, leave it for at least 1 hour and turn the chicken over every once in a while *.
  7. Bring to boil again over lower heat. When the ingredients warmed through, put in the pineapple and string beans, and cook for 3 mins stirring occasionally. Then turn the heat off.
  8. Serve the chicken with the sauce over steamed white rice. Enjoy!

If no time, skip * * part.

I added some process (also changed each cooking time a little bit) and ingredients (seasonings, bay leaf, egg) to the recipe I received. And also quantities of the ingredients as they are not referred, but followed the ratio of vinegar to soy sauce (1:1). The sender mentioned Adobo varieties such as vegetable, esp. string beans, and pork, so I garnished the beans.

I’m familiar with shoyu, so No. 3 is pretty good for me, but prefer not with pineapple. The Chinese dark soy sauce is very deep in colour – really black! – thick and rich but a bit sweeter than regular sauce. I totally agree with my work colleague. Pineapple? The fruit gives it good sourness and sweetness, which makes the sauce milder and the dish more tasty. I also like the pineapple itself – very fresh and juicy (Do not overcook!), and goes well with the sauce. Strangely, the pineapple cooked in the dark soy sauce has a slight coconut flavour although I didn’t use coconut oil, cream or flakes, and I like it very much.

So the conclusion is …… I like No. 2 most!!
If Philippine soy sauce isn’t available, I highly recommend to use Chinese dark soy sauce as substitute.

Thank you very much for the recipe, dear Postcrossing friend!

Philippine Stamps


10 thoughts on “Adobong Manok – Filipino Chicken Adobo

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