Filipino Chicken Adobo – A National Dish and Dinner Discussion

Sometimes the most nerve-racking part of experiencing another culture, is being introduced to new foods and cooking styles. But sometimes, you run into some serious soul food.

I think that’s how I’d classify the national dish of the Philippines – soul food.

I’ve actually been putting off cooking this adobo because I’ve had things like Philly cheesesteaks, chimichangas, and chicken curry calling to my palate. When we went to D.C. this past summer, I remember commenting at every meal about how they managed to add a hint of vinegar into everything we ate! Even the Five Guys we stopped at had a vinegar-y taste going on in the sauce! It was just so bizarre to me! Not bad at all, because vinegar is great, but bizarre that things I had never eaten with vinegar suddenly had it. So, when I saw that this recipe called for vinegar, I think that I misread my own memories and was put off a bit by the idea of it. But now that I have made it, I wish we would have tried sooner!

It was SO GOOD, y’all! I loved the flavor, and it was simple enough for my son to eat and enjoy too. And we just went easy and threw in a bag of frozen veggies on the side, added some rice like we seem to do to every meal, and voila! A delicious dinner, and tasty left-overs too! You can also try this recipe with pork instead of chicken.

And what better time to sit down with your kids and talk than at dinner time!? Growing up, I think the most common question at dinner time from my parents was, “What did you learn/do at school today?” Cooking meals from foreign countries is a wonderful and fun opportunity to let your kids share what they know about a particular country! If they don’t know anything, then tell them what you’ve learned, or share a story about someone you met from that place. You could even designate this meal to be eaten on a special holiday, like their Independence Day – June 12th – and share a little about someone like Andres Bonifacio! Bonfacio, among others, played an extremely important role in Filipino history and their revolution against Spain, and became an honored leader in the Philippines. You might even use one of these great videos about the hero that I found on YouTube to learn about him:

If the video doesn’t work, click here to go to it.

Now back to the food. There are so many adventurous foods from the Philippines that I just am not skilled or brave enough to try cooking at home at the moment, but if you find one you like, please share! I hope you enjoy this one!


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 (3 pound) chicken, cut into pieces
  • 1 large onion, quartered and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 2/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf (or 3 oz spinach leafs)

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Tip: I cut up my chicken into cubes before cooking – partly because I have a toddler, and partly because that’s just how this not-so-sous-chef cooks. And also, it speeds up the process.
  2. Begin cooking your rice according to packaging instructions.
  3. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet and cook the chicken to a golden brown. This can be done on Medium-High heat.
  4. Add in the garlic and onion. Cook in until the onion is soft and brown.
  5. Add in soy sauce, garlic powder, vinegar, black pepper and spinach/bay leaf. (I used spinach because that’s what we usually have in our fridge anyway.)
  6. Bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat back to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15-30 minutes. (Most recipes call for a longer time simmering, but with a hungry toddler, I gave it about 15 minutes and started serving him. It was still delicious.)
  7. Voila! Ready to serve.

If you try this out, let me know what you think! What other Philippine dishes have you tried? Which would you recommend? I would love to hear!

If you want to follow along and try more foods from around the world, then sign up below for my monthly newsletter where I’ll keep you updated on some of my most recent culinary pursuits along with other fun cultural activities!

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