Chicken Adobo



If we talk about Filipino food, inevitably the first one that comes to mind is Chicken Adobo (also, there is a version with pork). Why is it so good? Maybe is the perfect balance of the sugar, vinegar and soy sauce. Sweet and umami work well together. Maybe it's because the chicken is so tender it melts in your mouth. Or maybe it's because is a perfect gluten free meal with rice and a vegetable side dish.

However have you ever wondered how come the chicken in an Asian restaurant is always so tender? The secret is in the "velveting" or a marinade that tenderizes the meat before it's cooked. The tomatoes here give a nice splash of color and provide a little burst of sweetness to the rice.

Chicken Adobo, once you discover it, you won't live without.

If you like chicken, you can't miss these recipes:


for the Adobo sauce
Chicken Thighs 2 lbs (1 kg)
Cherry tomatoes 1 lb (500 g)
Fresh garlic 10 cloves
Vegetable oil 4 tbsp (60 ml)
Soy sauce 4 tbsp (50 ml)
Oyster Sauce 2 tbsp (30 g)
Cane vinegar 4 tbsp (60 ml) - (or malt vinegar)
Apple cider vinegar 4 oz (60 ml)
Bay leaves 3 - small
Salt and Pepper - to taste
for the "velveting" marinade
Green Onions 2 - sliced finely
Fresh garlic 2 cloves - grated
Soy sauce ⅓ cup (60 ml)
Egg whites 2 - large
Cornstarch 4 tbsp (30 g)
Brown sugar 4 tbsp (40 g)

Preparation of the chicken

First prepare the marinade: mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, and set aside.

Trim the chicken thighs of any skin, and cut in very large chunks (about 2 per each thigh).

Coat all the chicken with 2 Tbs of the vegetable oil.

Place the chicken pieces in the bowl with the marinade.

Cover and let marinade in the fridge for about 4 hours.

Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and place them over a clean kitchen towel to absorb the excess moisture.

Place the vegetable oil in a large skillet and sear the chicken on one side. About 4 minutes.

Flip the chicken and grate the garlic over the side facing up (cooked side). Also at this time add the soy sauce, the oyster sauce, the vinegars, the bay leaves. 

Reduce heat to low, cover the pan with a lid, and let is simmer for about 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked and is tender.

The sauce should be a thick glaze at this time, if not transfer the chicken to a plate and reduce the sauce. 

Serve the chicken with sauce on top.

How to prepare the cherry tomatoes

Place the cherry tomatoes in the same skillet you have just cooked the chicken, with just a drizzle of oil and a pinch of salt.

Cover with the lid and let them stew until lightly charred and tender, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Alternatively: bake them at 350° F for about 30 minutes while you cook the chicken.


For a gluten-free version use Tamari sauce instead of soy sauce.

Ingredients such as cane vinegar and oyster sauce can be found in specialized Asian market.

For a reduced sodium version: use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce.

The velveting is a good way to tenderize all meats. It can be used for tougher cuts of lamb, beef and pork.


There is a very old recipe in the central regions of Italy called friccò di pollo that is cooked pretty much the same way: vinegar and wine braised chicken. If you have tried the Italian version, you will love this one!