Last Night’s Dinner
with My Recipe for Chicken Adobo
It wasn’t until I moved away to college that I realized most families, when faced with leftovers, actually refrigerated them.
I can still recall as a young person, visiting the homes of friends and never once noticing a pot of rather old, braised meat camping on the backs of their stoves. But, way more than once, having to explain to my non-Filipino visitors what exactly was lounging on the back of ours.
It was almost always a pot of ADOBO.
Back then it never occurred to me that these eccentricities were particularly cultural, until I began studying food and its history, and learned about the importance of vinegar as a food preservative. And given the prevalence of vinegar (as well as other various souring/preserving elements) in Filipino cuisine, it made sense that my parents’ habits were simply a continuation of age-old traditions. Unfortunately for me, our mixed-race household was one filled with more than one food tradition and those pre-refrigeration habits led to a childhood riddled with many cases of food poisoning 🙁
I still like to think that stomaching all that bad bacteria has produced a constitution capable of digesting just about anything on earth. A handy skill, particularly if you do what I do for a living, which is taste things all day. Who knows if my cockamamie theory holds any water (?)
Another discovery during my entry into the professional food world was that the Filipino pantry was not nearly as romantic as say Italian cuisine, or deeply steeped in history as say Greek. Add to that receiving a rather-hard-to-find-in-New Orleans-back-then copy of a cookbook on Filipino food and being greeted by such “delicacies” as Steamed Chicken Stuffed with Vienna Sausages, and I did what any fledgling cook with a lot to prove would do. I forsake my native cuisine and immersed myself in the cuisines of other cultures, particularly Chinese.
I always have and am still deeply fascinated by dim sum and have long dreamt of opening my own interpretation of an upscale Dim Sum Parlour:
If human cloning becomes widely available in the near future, I will see this idea through. Until then, it just sits in a pile of other restaurant concepts I entertain myself with.
Nowadays with a restaurant of our own making under my belt, I find myself with less and less to prove and a newfound urge back toward the cuisine of my Motherland. And, luckily living in the Bay Area couldn’t be more perfect for exploring and furthering my knowledge of my once forsaken cuisine. So, like a guilty prodigal daughter I am in the midst of my own Filipino food revival.
Who knows what this journey could lead to? Pinay Pop-ups? Brenda’s Filipino Soul Food? Anybody know any good cloning clinics?
I haven’t made this stuff in years and thought it would be an easy reintroduction for me as well as a simple introduction for the wife and kids. I served it with steamed jasmine rice and a simple tomato, lettuce and cucumber salad.
1 Whole Chicken, Cut into 1/8ths, Breasts Cut into Quarters
½ Cup Canola Oil
10 Cloves Peeled Garlic, Minced
About a 2” Knob of Ginger, Peeled and Minced
1 Large Onion, Peeled and Julienned
2 Cups Soy Sauce
1 ½ Cups White Vinegar
1 C Fresh Pineapple, Crushed
2 TB Black Pepper
3 Bay Leaves
Heat oil in a large pot and brown each piece of chicken on all sides. Set chicken aside. Add garlic and onions to oil and lightly caramelize. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine, scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned bits. Simmer over medium flame uncovered for about 45 minutes.