Chicken Adobo on a table in a Studio
Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post
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Chicken Adobo

Adobo is a cooking process indigenous to the Philippines, a way of stewing meat or vegetables using vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves and peppercorn. Here, the vinegar and soy sauce used in the marinade/sauce act as preservatives, and Filipino cooks will leave the adobo to sit for a few days without refrigeration. They often carry an adobo when they are traveling in country.

And adobo is not limited to chicken. Other meats such as pork, beef, fish and squid are used, as well as vegetables such as Chinese long beans, called "sitaw" in the Philippines. Also, depending on where a person is from, adobo is cooked various ways: with or without soy sauce, fish sauce or coconut milk.

Emma Bloc, co-owner and chef at Manila Mart in Beltsville, Md., is from the Bulacan province, so she makes an adobo that has a saucier stew than, say, what is typically found in her husband's hometown of Cavite. But both dishes are packed with flavor.

Serve with steamed white rice.

The chicken needs to marinate for 1 hour. The finished dish can be refrigerated for about 1 week or frozen for up to 6 months.

Adapted from Emma Bloc, chef-co-owner of Manila Mart in Beltsville, Md.


measuring cup
Servings: 4-6
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more as needed
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (white and/or dark meat)
  • 6 hard-cooked whole eggs (optional; see NOTE)


  1. Step 1

    Combine the oil, garlic, onion, pepper, soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaves and chicken in a 2-gallon zip-top bag. Seal, pressing out as much air as possible. Massage to coat evenly, then marinate for 1 hour. (Alternatively, you can combine the ingredients in a large mixing bowl; turn the chicken pieces periodically to keep them evenly coated.)

  2. Step 2

    Use tongs to transfer the chicken pieces to a platter.

  3. Step 3

    Transfer all the marinade ingredients to a large pot or Dutch oven, over medium-high heat. Once the mixture has come to a boil, reduce the heat to medium; cover and cook for about 30 minutes to form a sauce, stirring occasionally, and adjust the heat as needed to keep the sauce barely bubbling. Taste and add pepper as needed.

  4. Step 4

    Meanwhile, heat a large (dry) skillet over medium heat. Working in batches as needed, pan-sear the chicken pieces until they are golden brown on both sides, 10 to 12 minutes, turning the pieces so they brown evenly. Cover and cook for 10 to 20 minutes, turning the pieces once or twice, until the chicken is cooked through. Return to a clean platter.

  5. Step 5

    Uncover the sauce; cook until it has reduced further and is slightly thickened.

  6. Step 6

    Place all the chicken pieces in the pot of sauce, along with the eggs, if using, tossing gently to coat. Once they are coated and heated through, the adobo is ready to serve. Cut the eggs in half lengthwise, if desired. The bay leaves are typically presented with the dish, but are not consumed. You can discard them before serving, if you like.

  7. Step 7

    NOTE: To hard-cook the eggs, use a thin needle to poke a small hole in each end of the egg (this will make them easier to peel). Place them in a medium saucepan and cover with an inch or two of water. Bring to a full boil over high heat, then turn off the heat, cover and let sit for 15 to 17 minutes. Drain, cool and peel.

Nutritional Facts

Per serving (based on 6)

  • Calories


  • Carbohydrates

    5 g

  • Cholesterol

    200 mg

  • Fat

    39 g

  • Protein

    35 g

  • Saturated Fat

    9 g

  • Sodium

    680 mg

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

Adapted from Emma Bloc, chef-co-owner of Manila Mart in Beltsville, Md.

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick