Chicken adobo

Sometimes you get the feeling there’s really nothing to eat in the house, let alone any of the complicated list of ingredients to cook something exotic. One  snowed in day of desperation, with a cold to boot, I found there was one meal I could make with only a few found ingredients, remembering an article a few weeks back in the NY Times about a classic Filipino dish: chicken adobo.  Adobo, as in the seasoning, was something I first learned about cooking chicken in Puerto Rico. In that case, we’re talking about a very basic salt mixture that kind of did all the right things to whatever you added it to. This recipe, draws on both the Spanish and Asian influences that converge in Filipino cooking. It is very simple actually. All I needed was some chicken, of which there was plenty in the freezer, vinegar (always have that), coconut milk (of which I had a lingering can I couldn’t figure out what to do with), soy sauce and garlic. Add a few bay leaves, a chili or two, generous amount of black pepper, and you have a quick marinate that doubles as a gravy when thoroughly cooked.

This recipe is adapted from the January 5, 2011 article by Sam Sifton, based on the version served at Brooklyn’s Purple Yam restaurant.

Chicken Adobo

Serves 3-4


  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1½ cups vinegar (rice or white)
  • 6 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 whole chili
  • 3 bay leaves
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4-6 chicken parts on the bone


Place chicken in a baking dish and cover with all other ingredients and marinate, preferably for a couple of hours, in the fridge. Pour marinade and chicken parts  into dutch oven or soup pot and bring to the boil. Simmer for about a half hour. If the chicken has it’s skin, you can remove it from the pot once cooked, and place on a sheet pan under the broiler for a few minutes to crisp up the skin, basting every few minutes with more sauce. Meanwhile, remove garlic and bay leaves from the sauce, and turn the stove burner to high heat to reduce and thicken what’s left in the pot. Return the broiled chicken, and cook a few more minutes in the liquid.  Serve the chicken with a generous drizzling of the sauce.