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Last night, as I watched American Adobo, I remembered the intoxicating scent of garlic, onion, soy sauce, and vinegar simmering together over the stove. Steam would pour out of the Dutch oven as my dad tasted the broth, adding some peppercorns here, adding some more tarragon there. Ever since I was little, adobo has been one of my favorite Filipino dishes, not only because it's easy to make, but because it keeps well and tastes absolutely marvelous both fresh and the day after. It's a good dish for beginning cooks to learn, and a fun one for more experienced cooks to play with. It's a quintessential Filipino dish that doesn't require modification to be kosher, though it can't be made for Passover unless you use wheat-free soy sauce or something like Bragg's Liquid Aminos.

This first recipe is the most basic recipe, yet yields perfectly delicious, juicy adobo that doesn't need much babysitting. It will work in a crock pot.

Dead Simple Chicken Adobo
3 lbs chicken (with bone--breasts, thighs, drumsticks, etc.)
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup white vinegar
2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste

1. If you have the time, or feel confident with your knife skills, cut chicken into bite-size pieces. This is not a requirement.
2. Heat a Dutch oven, stock pot or 4-qt pot over medium-high heat. 
3. Place chicken in pot and cover with soy sauce, vinegar, and water. If the liquid does not cover the chicken completely, add more soy sauce, vinegar, and water in the same 1:1:2 ratio until it does. 
4. Cover and bring to a rolling boil. 
5. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer with the lid cracked open until chicken is no longer pink on the inside, about 30 minutes to an hour depending on thickness. The longer you let it simmer, the tastier the chicken gets.
6. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with rice. Yields 4-6 servings, depending on appetite.

For those who want to take their adobo to the next level, this version of adobo adds sauteed garlic and onion. This is the version I grew up with.

Chicken Adobo
3 lbs chicken (with bone--breasts, thighs, drumsticks, etc.)
1 pat butter or 1 T olive oil or Pam cooking spray
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup white vinegar
2 cups water
Herbs and spices to taste (my dad used tarragon, rosemary, and thyme in abundance (around 2 T or so); my mother used around 2 T peppercorns)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. If desired, cut chicken into bite-size pieces. This is not strictly necessary.
2. Heat a Dutch oven, stock pot or 4-qt pot over medium-high heat. 
3. Add butter or olive oil or spray pot with Pam.
4. When fat of choice is heated, add garlic and onion. Saute until the onions are transparent.
5. Add chicken skin side down. Brown slightly, about 5 minutes. There should be a crust at the bottom of the pot.
6. Add soy sauce, vinegar, and water. (This should deglaze the bottom of the pot.) If the liquid does not cover the chicken completely, add more soy sauce, vinegar, and water in the same 1:1:2 ratio until it does.
7. Cover and bring to a rolling boil.
8. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add herbs and spices, then simmer with the lid cracked open until chicken is no longer pink on the inside, about 30 minutes to an hour depending on thickness. The chicken will absorb even more marinade if you let it simmer longer.
9. Correct seasonings and serve over rice. Yields 4-6 servings, depending on appetite.

As I began eating a more flexitarian diet, I tried out different ways to make adobo vegetarian. I am a fan of meat substitutes, be they soy-based or gluten-based, simply because their consistency is satisfying. I don't expect them to taste like meat, but I do expect them to have more flavor than a simple block of tofu. For now, I've settled on the below variation, which uses mushrooms and meat substitutes in place of chicken.

Vegetarian Adobo
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
8 oz soy ham, cubed
8 oz soy chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
8 oz firm or extra-firm tofu, drained and cubed
1 pat butter/1 T olive oil/Pam cooking spray
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup white vinegar
2 cups water
Herbs and spices to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat a Dutch oven, stock pot or 4-qt pot over medium-high heat. 
2. Add butter or olive oil or spray pot with Pam.
3. When fat of choice is heated, add garlic and onion. Saute until the onions are transparent.
4. Add meat substitutes and mushrooms. Brown slightly, about 5 minutes.
5. Add soy sauce, vinegar, and water. If the liquid does not cover the "meat" and mushrooms completely, add more soy sauce, vinegar, and water in the same 1:1:2 ratio until it does.
6. Reduce heat to medium-medium-low. Add herbs and spices, then simmer with the lid cracked open for at least 20 minutes, so that the flavors of the soy sauce and vinegar can penetrate the "meat".
7. Correct seasonings and serve over rice. Yields 4-6 servings, depending on appetite.

Liked these recipes? Have a suggestion? I want to hear it! Please leave a comment below.
 


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