Traditional Food of the Philippines: Filipino Adobo

Traditional Food of the Philippines: Filipino Adobo

Since the Philippines are a warmer culture, you will find that their cooking methods vary from those we see in North American countries, especially when it comes to preservation. This is where the Filipino Adobo cooking method comes in. Which is the Spanish word for the marinade?


After choosing the cut of meat you want, you will prepare it by marinating and stew it in a brine mixture. While there are many different recipes depending on the region, most recipes include vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, and black pepper.

Because there is a high amount of acid in the vinegar and a high amount of salt in soy sauce, the Filipinos were able to make it so no bacteria can grow on the meat. After preparation, the adobo was traditionally cooked in clay pots, however, with modern appliances, it is more commonly made in metal pots or woks.

This delicious meal is best served over a steaming plate of rice and veggies, allowing the flavor to further soak in.

Variations On Old Traditions

There are basic adobo ingredients such as vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, and black pepper, however, you can add other ingredients depending on the flavor you want. Vinegar and soy sauce are the heart of adobo, should always be your two main ingredients.

Other liquids such as coconut milk, rice milk or almond milk can be used. Or by adding sugar or honey, you have a teriyaki-like dish. As well, you can actually switch up the type of vinegar you want to use. In the Philippines, you will notice that coconut vinegar, rice vinegar, or cane vinegar are the most commonly used for adobo.

The most basic adobo recipes use only some garlic, a bay leaf, and black pepper. However, you will see the addition of seasonings such as ginger, onions, or other vegetables.

Chicken is the most traditional meat, however, you can use pork, beef, or fish, as well as non-meat alternatives such as tofu. After the meat is done stewing it is usually fried to give it a crispy exterior.

Top 3 Recipes

Chicken Adobo


4-5 lbs chicken (preferably thighs)

1/2 cup vinegar, white

1/2 cup soy sauce

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

3 bay leaves

Steamed rice


  1. Combine the chicken, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, peppercorns and bay leaves in a large pot.
  2. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 1-3 hours.
  3. Bring to a boil.
  4. Lower the heat, cover and let simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Stir occasionally.
  6. Remove the lid and simmer until the sauce is reduced and thickened.
  7. Ensure chicken is tender, should take approximately 20 more minutes.
  8. Serve with steamed rice.

Pork Adobo


2 lbs pork belly, cut into small pieces

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 garlic, peeled and minced

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon oil

1 cup vinegar

1/2 cup soy sauce

1 cup water


  1. In a bowl, combine pork, onions, garlic, bay leaves, salt, and pepper.
  2. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator 30 minutes.
  3. Add meat to skillet on medium heat, heat oil. T
  4. Turning occasionally, until pork is lightly browned.
  5. Add vinegar and allow to boil, uncovered and without stirring, for about 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Add soy sauce and water and stir to combine. Allow to a boil for another 3 to 5 minutes.
  7. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for about 40 to 50 minutes or until meat is fork-tender and sauce are reduced.
  8. Serve hot.


vegetable oil spray

2 packages extra-firm tofu

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

2 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp sea salt

2 Tbsp cornstarch


2 Tbsp olive oil

5 garlic cloves, minced

½ cup apple cider vinegar

½ cup low-sodium soy sauce

1 Tbsp black peppercorns

3 bay leaves

2 Tbsp packed light brown sugar

cooked white rice (to serve)

½ cup fresh scallions, thinly sliced

Preparation – Tofu

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Drain water from tofu and let sit 10 minutes
  3. Cut tofu into 1-inch cubes
  4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together olive oil, soy sauce, garlic powder, and salt
  5. Marinate tofu, about 5 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle cornstarch over tofu and gently toss
  7. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, flipping cubes halfway through.

Preparation – Adobo

  1. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine all ingredients, stirring constantly until thick and bubbly, about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and strain sauce
  3. Discarde bay leaves and peppercorns.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, toss tofu in sauce.
  5. Serve over cooked white rice and garnish with scallions.