Adobo (Sour Stew)

June 15, 2019
Tita Meg Cooks - Wings Hooves Horns - wide

There are many versions of Adobo as there are provinces in the Philippines. Practically each household has it’s own rendition of this traditional dish; along with Sinigang, considered the national dish.

Adobo, Philippine style, has now made it to international recognition (a recipe published in Cook’s Illustrated magazine March-April 2012 issue) and Pinoys all over the globe mark their food territory with this dish. To the Filipino, Adobo can mean a lot of things since so many other items can be made into Adobo. The basic ingredients being garlic and vinegar or a souring agent and soy sauce, or coconut milk as addendum. Aside from the basic pork or chicken, one can make Adobo with beef, prawns, squid, crabs, beef, frog’s legs, vegetables (bamboo shoots, kangkong, etc.) balut (aborted duck egg) and many more.

One of the good things about Adobo is that the older it gets, the better it tastes. Over steaming hot rice, it’s to live for! You can eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can turn the left over into another dish – Ropa Vieja (shred the pork or chicken – threadlike, and deep fry or pan fry with oil or bake, until it’s crispy.)

Adobo is another comfort food, either when you just feel like something home made or when you miss the Philippines.

Adobo (Sour Stew)

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By Marianne de Leon Serves: 4-6
Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes Cooking Time: 1 hour 30 minutes Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes

There are many versions of Adobo as there are provinces in the Philippines. The basic ingredients being your favorite protein, garlic and vinegar or a souring agent and soy sauce, or coconut milk.


  • 1 whole chicken - cut into serving pieces
  • ½ kilo pork belly (liempo) - cut into 1-inch by 2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons crushed garlic
  • ¾ cup white vinegar (sukang puti) - the vinegar that you use makes a difference in the outcome of the dish; each one has their own preference; I prefer the sukang sasa (palm tree vinegar)
  • ¼ cup soy sauce (toyo) - I personally prefer light soy sauce
  • 2 pieces bay leaf (laurel)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves (I also prefer the native oregano string)
  • 1 - 2 teaspoons coarsely crushed black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup cooking oil
  • ½ cup water



Marinate the chicken and pork pieces in vinegar, and soy sauce for 1 hour.


Remove the chicken and pork pieces from the marinade and separate the pork from the chicken.


Save the marinade and set aside.


In a non-stick cooking pot or enamel pot or glass cooking pot, or the best - a clay pot, (do not use aluminium or cast iron pot), place pot over medium heat and pour in oil.


When the oil has heated through, add the pork pieces and sear till all the sides of the pork are light brown.


Remove pork from the pot and set aside.


Do the same with the chicken pieces; remove and set aside.


Add the garlic to the pot and sauté for about 2 minutes.


Turn down the fire to low and add back the pork pieces and the saved marinade, and add in the bay leaf, oregano leaf and black pepper.


Cover the pot and simmer for about 20 minutes; make sure that every once in a while, stir the pork around to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot.


After 20 minutes, add in the chicken pieces, water and salt.


Cover the pot and simmer for about 30 minutes or till the pork and chicken are tender.


Stir the chicken and pork mixture every once in a while.


Adjust the taste of the Adobo to your liking by adding soy sauce or vinegar or both and salt.


  • You may add chicken liver and gizzard. If you add the gizzard, do this when you add the chicken. If you add the liver, do this about 10 minutes before the end of cooking time.
  • You can also add sliced pork liver; slice the liver into ¼-inch by 1 ½-inch wide; add this 10 minutes before end of cooking time.
  • I also like adding boiled quail eggs (about a dozen) also 10 minutes before the end of cooking time.
  • Adobo is really better the day after it's cooked; it's to let the vinegar tone down.

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