COUNTRY:                                       PHILIPPINES

DISH:                                                 FILIPINO ADOBO

CONTRIBUTED BY:                       Embassy, Mission in Pretoria 


Adobo is the quintessential Filipino dish. It is usually prepared by marinating and stewing any protein (e.g. chicken, pork, beef, lamb, and even vegetables like mushrooms) in a spiced broth. It is served over a bed of white rice to absorb the savory sauce.

While it has Hispanic influences brought about by Spain’s 400-year colonization of the Philippines, such influences have been culturally appropriated to the local palate by using indigenous ingredients, thereby making it uniquely Filipino. Unlike the Spanish or Mexican adobado with thyme, oregano and paprika as its spices, the Filipino adobo uses the following local condiments: vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaf and peppercorns.


Adobo perfectly captures the deep and complex flavors of Philippine cuisine. As described by the late American chef and food author Anthony Bourdain, it is a bit salty, sour, sweet, and with a dash of umami. Adobo is highly reliable and versatile. The vinegar and soy sauce prolong its shelf life, making it very popular among Filipino campers and mountaineers. There are also many regional varieties of the dish, with some provinces in the Philippines adding coconut milk and annatto oil.


Philippine cuisine is gaining traction in the international food scene. The Embassy fervently hopes that the wave of global popularity of adobo and other Filipino dishes will finally reach the shores of South Africa.




2 lbs. chicken cut into serving pieces

3 pieces dried bay leaves

8 tablespoons soy sauce

4 tablespoons white vinegar

5 cloves garlic crushed

1 ½ cups water

3 tablespoons cooking oil

1 teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon salt – optional

1 teaspoon whole peppercorn



  1. Combine chicken, soy sauce and garlic in a large bowl. Mix well. Marinate the chicken for at least 1 hour. Note: the longer the time, the better.
  2. Heat a cooking pot. Pour in cooking oil.
  3. When the oil is hot enough, pan-fry the marinated chicken for 2 minutes per side.
  4. Pour in the remaining marinade, including garlic. Add water. Bring to a boil.
  5. Add dried bay leaves and whole peppercorn. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the chicken is tender.
  6. Add vinegar. Stir and cook for 10 minutes.
  7. Add the sugar and salt. Stir and turn the heat off. Serve hot. Share and enjoy!