Chicken Adobo

Published September 15, 2014. Comments


Chicken Adobo

I want to exclaim "Hallelujah!"  because my son has finally fallen in like with Chicken Adobo. It's all my fault for not introducing it to him when he was a baby. Going to college and working meant that Colby was with my parents all the time. Colby is certainly the apple of their eye and my Dad is madly in love with his first grandson. Dad doted on him constantly and anything Colby did good or bad was awarded with something that was almost always something like french fries, chicken nuggets, or ice cream. To this day, we joke about it because my Dad wants me to make Colby eat better and stop buying him McDonald's. I hear long lectures about Colby's health and his digestive problems all because of Colby's bad eating habits. But what happens when Dad is visiting? All those go right out the window when he sees Colby, gushing at how handsome he's getting, looking just like his Grandpa (I'm rolling my eyes), how tall he's gotten since the last time he's seen him, "Are you hungry? You want McDonald's?"  

It's still my fault though because I was the first one to find the joy in buying his first Happy Meal and feigning glee with what was inside the box, just so Colby would associate happiness with what's inside the box. My fault!  Over a span of two years, by the time he was 5 years old, Colby had collected a large box of unopened Happy Meal toys. We eventually donated those toys to a shelter but now he was addicted to fast food. I am now guility of slowly killing my child through fast food. I balk at it now. How can I convice people to be more active in keeping their own food culture alive when my own son won't try his own? How can I lecture about the dangers of genetically modified foods when my son is among the millions of people who thoughtlessly consume what billions before him have done for decades? What is in the box or in a box can feign any happiness. Slowly I have been introducing more vegetables and adding variety to his diet. Rarely will I take him for a fast food meal. 

My son is a teenager now but it has been, and still is, a long road to getting him to try new foods. New foods like Filipino food that is essentially half of his nationality. If you have been keeping up with my culinary relationship with my son, he loves, chicken, because "chicken" is all he knows. Over the last year, he has been eating parts of a whole chicken: wings, breast meat, legs and thighs. He loves chicken wings for snacks. Breast meat with a sauce. Thighs, I will debone and make Chicken Katsu for him. Chicken legs, I'll either make Pancake Chicken, Paprikash Roasted Chicken Legs, and now, Chicken Adobo.

This is not the traditional recipe. This is my recipe. My recipe uses White Balsamic Vinegar instead of white distilled vinegar. In order to introduce my son to Filipino food, I wanted him to taste the soy sauce and not find the vinegar overpowering. White Balsamic will add a touch of tangyness without overpowering the flavors of the dish.  I teased a good friend of mine who made me his version of Chicken Adobo with teriyaki sauce and red wine vinegar. It was so damn good, but I switched out the red wine vinegar for the tame White Balsamic. Use low-sodium soy sauce, but this dish will taste more authentically Filipino if you can get a Filipino brand soy sauce like Silver Swan or Marco Pina. Chicken Adobo is a combination of my son's favorite flavors of soy sauce, garlic and black pepper. You can definitely use other chicken parts or substitute with your favorite meat. 

Chicken Adobo


About 3 pounds chicken legs

¾ cup Filipino brand soy sauce or low-sodium soy sauce

¼ cup white balsamic vinegar

7 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled

1 ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

6-7 pieces bay leaves


  1. Combine all the ingredients in a gallon plastic zip lock baggie for an hour or overnight.
  2. In a large dutch oven or pot, add all the ingredients and give it a little stir so that the chicken legs have been distributed neatly along the bottom of the pot.
  3. Bring to a boil, over medium-high heat, cover slightly with a lid and let it boil for about 20 minutes.
  4. Gently move around the legs by alternating pieces that were on top to the bottom and rotating pieces from top to bottom, so they all have a chance at the sauce.
  5. Put the heat on low, and cover the pot. Cook for another 20 minutes, until the legs have become tender.
  6. Remove the lid. Remove the chicken legs to a serving and cover with foil to keep warm. Bring the juice to a rolling boil, until the sauce has reduced to about 1/3 cup, about  10 minutes. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve with steamed rice.