Chicken Adobo Is Not A Mexican Dish - Going Coastal Blog at - 185986

Going Coastal

Chicken Adobo is not a Mexican Dish 
Jul. 16, 2010 3:44 pm 

Although I never knew what ‘adobo’ meant, the first time I saw the word, I assumed it was a Spanish word. In the limited breadth of my food experience growing up, Spanish words always led to Mexican food.


That being said, I don’t remember when or where I first became aware there was such a thing to be eaten. It obviously (well, now it’s obvious to me, that is), wasn’t at any of my frequent visits to Mexican restaurants, nor would it have been at a Filipino joint, only because, up until very recently, I’d never visited one.

To be honest, my long-lasting ignorance of the Philippines stretches far beyond their national treasure of a dish.

The earliest reference to anything ‘Filipino’ I can recall was actually from a comedian. It might have been George Carlin, but I’m guessing at that because he was so prominent a figure in a youth full of sneaking listens to my Dad’s cassette tapes.

I always thought he’d be upset I was listening to them because they were so riddled with curse words. Looking back, I’m not sure he was really that interested whether I was listening to them or no.

Anyhow, the joke told revolved around a character who was ‘Pilifino’ and replaced all his ‘p’ sounds with ‘f’ sounds and vice-versa. The ending sentence of the joke and maybe the punch line was, “Hey, you’re not Pilifino!”

It probably wasn’t funny or enlightening, but this little story really was all I had, as far as information about ‘Pilifinos’ was concerned, for a good many years. I’m certain not once in my years in the Owosso and Fenton school districts did one educator utter mention of the Philippines, much less taken the time to explain how their national dish had such a Mexican-sounding name.

All it really took to get me some first-hand contact with the culinary culture of the Philippines, it turns out, was an accidental turn down a corridor in the Pike Place Market, leading me to be looking down at a steam table full of intriguing selections, including the famed Chicken Adobo of the Oriental Kitchenette.

For all the build-up to this point, I should probably just bluntly state that there isn’t anything especially exotic about the dish. Even in my younger years, I can imagine seeing this dish tucked in among the giant buffets of which my family was fond and thinking, “I’ll be saving some room on my plate for THAT!” Other than some bay leaves floating in the dark liquid, it looks like a whole lot of stewed chicken, which is a perfect dish for even the blandest palates, right?

Oh, but, as you probably imagine, Adobo is not bland whatsoever! I won’t pretend to know what the lovely ladies down the street from my office put in the pot when cooking off that chicken other than the vinegar, which is prominent enough to inform at least one solid assumption about the ingredients. 

So, yes, take that to mean the dish has a sour taste to it. 

Again, speaking to my younger self, please don’t make that face! Somehow ‘sour’ has a tendency to have negative associations with it, even to someone who was always excited to ride his bike across town on summer days with his cousins to get the ritualistic pairing of Tom’s Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips and a Blue Raspberry Slush Puppie. 

It is the love of those chips, however, which you should keep in mind here. The adobo I had for lunch today is not nearly as tart as even the semi-bland Lay’s version of my favorite guilty packaged snack. 

No, the vinegar definitely is balanced out by some other inclusions, soy sauce and garlic likely among them. If that’s not enough, my experience is that you’re not going to find much more value than the giant box of food delivered to you for your $8. I had three meaty chicken legs over a nice mound of steamed white rice which nicely was bathed in some extra adobo sauce and left me in a position of being able to do little-to-no damage to the small portion of ‘pancit’ noodles offered as an accompaniment.

I did save room for the small box of Botan Rice Candy, of course. Gotta get my sticker!

Click to Change your Profile Picture
Seattle Dad

Home Town
Owosso, Michigan, USA
Living In
Seattle, Washington, USA

Member Since
May 2007

Cooking Level

Cooking Interests
Grilling & BBQ, Frying, Stir Frying, Asian, Mexican, Indian, Southern, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean

Reading Books, Music, Wine Tasting

Go Pro!

In Season

Guilt-Free Munchies
Guilt-Free Munchies

Get healthier takes on your favorite between-meal snacks.

Back-to-School Eats
Back-to-School Eats

Get recipes that work for your busiest days.

Subscribe Today! Only $7.99
Subscribe Today! Only $7.99

Delicious recipes, party ideas, and helpful cooking tips! Get a year of Allrecipes magazine for just $7.99!

About Me
I'm a native Michigander who has landed in the Pacific Northwest. I'm not hating the 40 degree low temperatures in winter, to be sure, especially when reading about the snowstorms back home. I've also lived in Atlanta, Denver, Madison, and Germany. I have restaurant experience working in Asian cuisine and American barbeque. I just enjoy the rhythm of prepping and cooking in the kitchen with a little music to keep me company. The bonus is when your guests truly enjoy the results of all the work.
My favorite things to cook
I really love Asian food. I prefer to have the one dish with a good mix of veggies and meat in a delicious sauce. It's quite a change from my meat-and-potatoes upbringing.
My favorite family cooking traditions
The maternal side of my family are of Czech descent, so it's those meals at Grandma's house that I love and miss. I feel the need to learn more about Czech cuisine so I can continue those traditions if and when I have a family.
My cooking triumphs
I'd say that making a Thai Chili Pepper Chicken dish for a gal early in our relationship has led to her sticking with me for a while now. Learn to cook you single fellas. It helps!
My cooking tragedies
I added cayenne pepper to a hot pan the other day, which resulted in much coughing and hacking for about ten minutes for both my gal and I. It was really ridiculous. I should know better, but I basically mace-d the household!
Argentina  |  Australia & New Zealand  |  Brazil  |  Canada  |  China  |  France  |  Germany  |  India  |  Italy  |  Japan  |  Korea  |  Mexico

Netherlands  |  Poland  |  Quebec  |  Russia  |  SE Asia  |  United Kingdom & Ireland  |  United States