When I was five, my father, who was in the US Air Force, was transferred to Clark Air Base near Angeles City, about 40 miles northwest of metro Manila on the big island of Luzon in the Philippines. This was after about a year or so of being stationed at Tachikawa AB near Yokohama, Japan; since both postings were PCSs (permanent changes of station), as Dad's dependents we were "sponsored" to live overseas with him.
What a fascinating time to be a kid!
Like most American families stationed at Clark (and, I imagine, at the naval base at Subic Bay), Mom and Dad hired a local woman, Maria, to cook, clean and watch us kids while they worked for the 13th Air Force. One native dish she introduced us to was chicken adobo. We loved it! And when we came back home, Mom got Maria's recipe from her, so chicken adobo was part of our growing up.
(Aside: One of my fellow Knights of Columbus, Ray Huie, is a Filipino from Chicago. At our council's monthly meetings we have dinner together beforehand, mostly dishes brother Knights have cooked. Ray and I are talking about doing chicken adobo in the near future!)
I bring this up because I've got a pot on right now for tonight's dinner. I hope Fr. Leo Patalinghug has no objections to putting our recipe out there; like most regional and ethnic dishes, the recipe has almost as many variations as cooks.
- Coat 2 lbs. chicken with a mixture of flour and pepper (about 2 tbsps. pepper to 1 c. flour usually works best) and brown in oil or shortening in a Dutch oven or other large pot. Drain off oil.
- Add to chicken 2-1/2 c. water, 1 c. soy sauce, 1/2 c. white vinegar, 4 cloves garlic, 1/2 tsp. whole black pepper, 1/4 tsp. ginger and 3-4 bay leaves. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 3 hours.
- When done, chicken should be practically falling off the bone. Serve over steamed white rice.
It's a simple dish, good with salad or any other greens you care to serve. You can skim the fat off the pot liquid (if you don't use boneless, skinless chicken breasts) and pour it over both the meat and rice instead of soy sauce. I recommend Kikkoman for cooking, as it has a more robust flavor than La Choy; plus, you can buy it in quart-sized bottles for ease of pouring.