Filipino Adobo is Not the Same as Spanish or Portuguese Adobo

Filipino adobo

There are variations of adobo in Spanish-speaking countries, but they're not the same as Filipino adobo. Filipino adobo usually consists of some type of meat stewed in soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, bay leaves and black pepper. The favorite meat for most people is either chicken or pork.

The only thing that's really in common is the vinegar.

Filipino Chicken and Pork Adobo

Most people like either chicken or pork adobo. I like both, but I prefer them without the bones. My wife, Josie, likes them with the bones left in. She likes the taste of the marrow. Adobo is meant to be served with rice. How much adobo and how much rice is up to you.

Filipino adobo can be made without any meat at all, substituting kangkong (water spinach) for the meat, which is great news for vegetarians. I've never tried it, but I've eaten both kangkong and alugbati with rice. I can eat those cooked, but I prefer regular spinach raw, in my salads.

The proportions of the ingredients are a mystery. Josie's adobo is never exactly the same, regardless of whether it's chicken or pork. That's mostly because each ingredient isn't exactly the same. Some brands of soy sauce are saltier than others. Some kinds of vinegar are stronger than others. These are dishes Josie has to taste as they stew to get the flavors correct.

Our son, Joseph, and his wife, Diann, try to cook adobo on occasion. According to them, their adobo can never match what Josie makes.

Chicken Adobo is Famous

Most American tourists in the Philippines will choose chicken adobo over pork adobo. I can't be sure, but that preference could be driven by the fear of food poisoning from pork products. It would be completely understandable.

Chicken adobo is mentioned in the song Bebot, by The Black Eyed Peas. It was rapped by, one of many American celebrities born in the Philippines.

Filipino Cuisines

Of all the Filipino cuisines that exist, there are only a few that I enjoy eating. Lumpia, fried rice, adobo, menudo, pancit, kaldereta and afritada are several dishes I enjoy. Main dish ingredients like longganisa and tocino are also tasty. I can totally forget about balut, bagoong and dinuguan and I avoid dishes like kare-kare and pakbet.

I could go on and on about the various cuisines, but I won't. If I really feel like it, I'll write about them individually. Some people (including my deceased father) confuse Filipino dishes with Mexican dishes, just like they confuse the Tagalog language with Spanish. Writing about the Filipino dishes may convince them otherwise.

Photo Attribution: dbgg1979 on flickr, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


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