Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Chicken Adobo from my imagination

I don’t remember ever having a ‘proper’ chicken adobo. Despite having Filipino minders when I was a child, strangely we had little if no Filipino cuisine at home. Sad really, since there is a lot about Filipino food that is robust and flavourful (or so I’ve heard). As it is, Filipinos seem to love food as much as us Singaporeans anyways, so surely there is some correlation to deliciousness of cuisines there.

Last year I had an opportunity to bring Chicken Adobo into my food consciousness again. It’s a name I heard in childhood, and some Filipino acquaintances wanted to prepare that for a potluck party. They had the right ingredients, but unfortunately, very little cooking expertise. The first sign was the lean pork loin, and the jumping backwards when wet chopped garlic hit the oil.

Last night I felt inspired to create that tangy fragrant gravy to consume in copious amounts over rice, almost like a soup. All I could remember was lots of fried garlic and black pepper. The end result was really really delicious, and it made me feel really cheered, even though according to my mother it was.. ‘good, but not according to (her) taste’. Ah well. Can’t please everyone.

Rough guide to Chicken Adobo

1 Large Chicken – skin and excess fat removed,
Cut into manageable chunks, bones included.
1 tablespoon black peppercorns – pounded not too fine
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tblsp olive oil

1 and a half heads of fresh garlic - chopped
2 tblsp cooking oil

1 cup white/distilled vinegar
½ cup light soy sauce
½ cup black vinegar (the Chinese kind, I use bulldog brand)

1 heaped tablespoon sugar (ad more or less to taste)
2 bay leaves, or ½ tablespoon dried herbs ( I used spaghetti Bolognese mix and it worked great)
½ tblsp crushed black pepper (again)

In a large bowl, marinate the chicken chunks with the pepper sugar salt and olive oil. Make sure well incorporated, then leave aside for 30 mins.

In a large cast iron skillet or heavy bottomed medium pot, heat the cooking oil. Then brown the chicken pieces in batches. Remove chicken and set aside. In the oil left in the pan, fry the garlic till golden.

At this point, If you’ve been using the skillet, deglaze the pan with a half cup of water, transfer everything into a medium sized pot and continue. Or else, just add half a cup of water into the pot deglaze and continue.

Return the chicken into the pot . Then add the vinegars and soy sauce. Add enough water to that to almost cover the chicken. Leaving ½ inch ‘chicken-berg tops’ are okay. The chicken will shrink a little more during the simmering. Bring the pot to boil then lower to a simmer, add the bay leaves (or dried herbs) and crushed black pepper. Simmer for 20-30 mins until chicken tender but not falling apart. Turn off.

Dish out immediately, served on hot white rice, or cool, refrigerate and eat the next day. Keeping it for a day does improve the flavours a little.

Please be reminded that as usual, all quantities were estimated. You can adjust to fit your own preferences.

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