Sunday 8 July 2012

Philippino Chicken Adobo

Chicken Adobo with Bean Sprout Salad and Garlic Rice

Since my return to the UK I haven’t actually made any Philippino dishes. It’s not that I haven't thought about it, it’s just that there is massive pressure to impress and choosing the right dish is crucially important to make the right impression for Pinoy food. So after much debate I thought I’d try to make what is probably the most popular Philippino dish there is, Adobo. Now for those unfamiliar with Philippino gastronomy, I think this recipe is a good starting point at understanding the main flavours of the cuisine: salty, sour and sweet. This is the national dish, and for that reason I think it represents Philippines on a plate. Always cooked in soy sauce and vinegar, the other components of the dish can vary depending on the type of meat you are Adoboing: different regions have their own take on the dish and every family in the country has their own recipe which has been passed down over generations. So as you can imagine there are a fair few adobos to try.

The following recipe is my version. I have taken the best bits of the recipes I have tried and have adapted a few things according to my taste. For example, the Lutong Bahay (home cooked) style stalls I used to visit for lunch every day had what I consider to be the best Adobo I have had the pleasure of tasting. The dark, sour, sweet sauce was lip smackingly delicious, but, as like most meats in the Pines, it was a little over cooked and tough. Now this is cultural thing, and I have the same issue when I go to Ghana. Salmonella is a huge problem, and cooking chicken/eggs within an inch of their lives is a sure way of avoiding the bowel destroying bacteria. I have tried to recreate this taste as best as I can, whilst retaining the dignity of the meat so I tenderised my chicken using a simple Chinese technique of marinating meat in soy and corn flour overnight.  Normally, the chicken would be cooked on the bone, but my animal loving/slightly delusional friend for whom I’m cooking for tonight, refuses to eat meat on the bone. Belly pork is a good substitute for chicken in this dish and is probably more “Philippino” then using chicken. But again, my friend is on a diet… gosh, the lengths I go to, to please!

Along with the adobo, I’m serving very traditional garlic rice. Although my bean sprout salad isn’t very traditional, it provides a fresh accompliment to the salty sauce. As you may notice there is quite a lot of garlic in all three dishes. I found this to be a popular ingredient in Philippino food. Many a time did I have the lingering taste of garlic in my mouth after a meal, or noticed others did…

I think the best thing about this dish is the simplicity of cooking it. Like most recipes, a fair bit of preparation goes in before hand, but all in all, this dish took me 40mins to put together… although I must admit I’m pretty organised in the kitchen.

Adobo Chicken:
400g Chicken pieces off or on the bone
4 White parts of the Spring Onion, sliced into thin rings
5 tbsp of rice vinegar
1 tbsp Honey
6 Peppercorns
1 Bay Leaf
2 tbsp Canola oil

For the marinade:
2 tbsp Corn flour
5 tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
4 tsp Crushed Garlic
2 tsp Crushed Black pepper
2 tsp Crushed Ginger

Firstly marinade my chicken pieces over night. This ensures a strong flavour, but also means you don't have to add extra soy during cooking.

Heat up a large wok and added the canola oil. Quickly but lightly fried off the whites of the spring onion. Whilst the wok was still hot, add the marinated chicken pieces and pour a quarter cup of water into the wok to prevent burning, then turn the heat down. cover and let cook for about five minuets. Once the chicken is has cooked, add the vinegar and cook off thoroughly. Add the honey, pepper corns and the bay leaf. Mix, then half cover and leave for a further 10 minuets for the flavours to mingle.

Bean Sprout Salad
100g Bean sprouts
100g The Greens of Spring Onions, sliced vertically into thin strips
1 Sliced large Green Chillies
2 tbsp Sesame Seeds, toasted
1 tsp Crushed garlic
5 tbsp Rice Vinegar
1 tbsp Sugar

Blanch the sprouts for no more then 30 minuets. Drain, and run under cold water to prevent further cooking. Mix with the greens of the spring onions. In a small frying pan, add the vinegar, sugar, chillies and garlic. Heat until the sharpness of the vinegar had cooked off. Pour over the salad and sprinkle over the sesame seeds. Place in the fridge, and eat cold.

Garlic Rice
450g Cooked Rice
3 Gloves of Garlic thinly sliced
2 tbsp Canola Oil
Crushed Pepper to taste

Heat up the oil in a wok. Add the garlic till it turns golden brown. Stir in the rice, mix and season with pepper. 

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