no knife needed
Good evening, everyone.
Today I decided to attempt east Asian cuisine. After pouring over many blogs in search of a recipe suited for someone admittedly unfamiliar with cuisine from this vast region, I decided to make adobo.
Adobo is a Filipino method of cooking meat with vinegar. When the Spanish came to the Philippines, they observed the cooking practices of native Filipinos and labeled them adobo. In Spanish, adobo means seasoning or marinade. Essentially, that’s exactly what the meat in this dish do: they stew in a vinegar and soy sauce based sauce with about four other ingredients.
Adobo is really central to the oft-overlooked Filipino cuisine. I’d love to learn more about Filipino food, as I feel the food culture for the Philippines gets little to no attention. Below is the recipe, with my substitutions/alterations as noted.
Adobo as adapted from here
2 chicken drumsticks
1/2 c white rice vinegar*
1/4 c soy sauce
3/4-1 c water
1 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
8-10 cloves garlic, slightly smashed, skins left on
2 bay leaves
freshly ground black pepper & salt to taste
1. put all ingredients in a heavy bottomed pot and leave for 30 minutes to marinate.
2. place the pot over medium heat. add 1/2 cup of water, bring to a boil. lower the heat to a simmer, and simmer without stirring (seriously, no. stirring.) until most of the vinegar acid has cooked off. how will you know if it’s cooked off? open your bottle of vinegar and sniff. that stung, right? well, once the vinegar acid has cooked off, it won’t do that.
3. keep simmering until the chicken is tender, which will take about 40 minutes. taste the sauce. if it’s too salty or sharp, add more water.
4. when the chicken is tender, remove it and set it aside. you can mash SOME of the garlic into the sauce.
5. keep simmering on low for about 30-60 minutes, or until a fork pierces oxtails like it would with butter. remove the oxtails, set aside.
6. keep simmering until the sauce has reduced to your desired consistency. meanwhile, heat some oil in a saute pan over medium heat. once hot, add the chicken and oxtails and fry on all sides. the goal is to get a crispy exterior. this, however, is optional.
7. add the chicken and oxtails back to the sauce, toss to coat.
This dish is traditionally paired with white rice, which is great for soaking up some of the delicious sauce.
*the original recipe calls for pork belly and white cane vinegar, neither of which I could find.
If you’ve never made this before, I can assure it is easy and the end result blows you away. The vinegar adds some tang, while the small amount of soy sauce lends a hint of flavor and a lot of color. The garlic is not at all overpowering, contrary to what you may expect with 8-10 cloves. I simmered this with a lid on because the liquid did not cover the meat. I’m not actually sure if it’s supposed to, but nevertheless, I felt the oxtails would benefit from the pressure. And they did. The oxtails were SO TENDER – they came out better than they did the first time I made them. When I stuck a fork into one of the tails, it just melted right into the meat. oohhhhhh mannnnn……so. good. The chicken was equally as good. It was extremely flavorful (an accomplishment for chicken, some may argue) and it just pulled apart. No knife needed whatsoever. This is a comfort food dish in every sense of the term – very satisfying and a pleasure to eat. If you’re having a bad day or are approaching a stressful week, make this. Just…do it.
Side note. I deviated from my ritual almond butter and (insert add on here) sandwich today (although, an almond butter + strawberry sandwich is AMAZING). After hitting the gym, I walked to Trader Joe’s to pick up some chicken and ended up getting a bunch of other stuff too (no surprise there). After walking past the cheese section about 4 times, I relented to my gnawing urge to buy some cheese. I’m constantly on the look out for a new, exciting cheese.
My latest obsession had been Manchego, so I decided to go for another Spanish cheese. I find Spanish cheeses are overlooked in favor of French or Italian ones. So, I bought a block of Iberico cheese. Then I had a sudden impulse to get a really sharp, pungent cheddar. My search for a blow-your-face-off cheddar is everlasting, and with high hopes I purchased some English-made cheddar today.
I planned to have a cheese sandwich for lunch, and bought a nice demi baguette to complete my vision.
It was suggested that I put some butter and dijon mustard on a sandwich like this, but the thought of butter and cheese sort of turns my stomach. Unfortunately, I have no good mustard on hand, so this was just a plain cheese sandwich. The cheese is good, but not even close to what I was after. All in all, it was a really good sandwich. I should get baguettes more often, particularly the smaller ones. They are perfect for lunch, and they were quite inexpensive (which is always important).