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Almost everybody here has heard of Filipino adobo.  This is one of the most popular dishes from the Philippines that are well known to Americans especially those who have had it before and is usually requested from Filipino friends or even just acquaintances who they think can cook.

I need to explain that most people’s adobo is cooked dry or has very little gravy. I usually cooked adobo almost dry also but my husband pours all of the gravy on his rice and tries to scrape the serving dish to the last drop like he is having soup with rice.  I corrected him by telling him that adobo is not eaten that way but he argued that he likes the rice floating in the adobo gravy so I started to make my adobo a little “soupy” and everybody is happy.

Again, this dish has many versions.  There is the chicken adobo, pork adobo, beef adobo, or any combination of them.   Other dishes are also cooked as adobo such as adobong kangkong (swamp spinach), adobong pusit, which is squid adobo. But we will only talk about the first three. In the picture is pork adobo, which I cook more often than chicken adobo and hardly beef adobo. 

I discovered lately that different ethnicity by regions in the Philippines have different ways of cooking adobo. Some people add potatoes in it, some put pineapple, and some even add some kind of vegetables. There may be more that I don’t know. However, in my opinion, the classic adobo is without any of the other additions. Those variations may as well be called some other kind of dish. But I am sure they all taste good but they should not be called plain adobo.

Adding soy sauce is also a matter of preference. I used to not put soy sauce in my adobo but it made it taste better. Cooking it with bay leaves is also optional.

My version of this dish is as follows but I have included how to do the other kinds of meat too:


  • One chicken cut up,
  • OR 1.5 to 2 lbs. pork loin cut up into 2″ chunks or cubes. A little marbled fat in the meat is good.
  • OR 1.5 to 2 lbs. beef cut up into 2″ chunks. (Chuck roast or sirloin)
  • OR any combination
  • 2 to 3 large cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 TBS. light soy sauce
  • 1/4 c white distilled vinegar
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1/2 tsp. cracked or whole black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. MSG (optional)


I use light soy sauce in all my recipes.  Use less salt or amount of soy sauce if you use regular soy sauce.

Place chicken or pork in a shallow pot and add the rest of the ingredients and mix well together.

Without stirring or disturbing, let it boil, cover and simmer on low heat. Do not disturb for at least 5 minutes or the vinegar will taste raw.  After a few minutes, the meat can be turned over to make the color from the soy sauce uniform.  Continue simmering for about 25 minutes more or until the meat is cooked and tender.  A little longer if it is beef.

Remove the meat and brown the meat pieces in 1 TBS oil in another skillet. Watch out because it may pop and splatter. Put the meat back as they are browned in the juice and continue to simmer covered until the meat is very tender.  Add a little water if more gravy is desired.  Adjust seasoning to taste.

To simplify the browning, you can put the meat pieces in a shallow baking pan and broil until they turn brown instead of frying. Turn them over and repeat. Put them back in the pot to finish cooking it. This is particularly good when cooking a large batch.  

If using beef, you may have to add about 1/4 c to 1/2 c more water.  It will take longer to simmer to tenderness.

This is definitely eaten with rice.  Spoon a little gravy on the rice and mix together with a dash of salt to your taste.  Cut a little piece of the meat and mix with a spoonful of the rice and after you put it in your mouth follow it with a few chopped or diced tomatoes or pico de gallo.

In the picture below are diced tomatoes, diced onion, and diced mangoes, salt and a little vinegar mixed together as we were having this side dish with the adobo at the deer camp.

Adobo goes well with crusty Filipino bread called Pandesal or warm French baguettes or just plain toast.  Dip a piece of the bread in the gravy and follow it with a piece of the meat.  Or you can make a sandwich with the shredded meat and spoon scant fatty gravy on it and add pieces of tomato. 

I think it would be very suitable in a French bread or baguette made like the Vietnamese sandwich bahn mi with sticks of cucumber, carrots, cilantro leaves, fresh bean sprouts and whatever else you desire to include.