Ma Vie En Rose: I hate you, Adobo. I love you, Adobo.

Adobo in an Instapot. Photo by JAH

Folks, this is so blasphemous to admit, but I feel that I must (soo dramatic, I know): I have had a frenemy relationship with adobo all my life.

When I was growing up, I couldn’t stand looking at it. I remember my aunts cooking them in the kitchen and I’d watch the pork drenched in its oily sauce–the oil floating to top with speckles of the peppercorns. I recall throwing a fit when I’d ask what’s for dinner, and someone would reply, “Adobo! Yay!” My face would scrunch up as if someone just informed that we were going to eat water for dinner. Come to think of it, at that time–I would have preferred water.

When Filipino cuisine became known, adobo was at the forefront right alongside the lumpia, and pancit. And, I–I was like: no, (thank you) salamat. I’ll drink my water right here.

There were years when adobo was at every Filipino party, and I remember flipping it off underneath the paper plate that I was carrying. My sister Jackie, at one point noticed that I would pass it on by and she’d teasingly ask me if I wanted the porky fat fat with a side of oil on my rice. She and I both reacted that way when we ate at a Filipino restaurant just last year.

The adobo for me was also a date killer. If I was dating a guy and he mentioned how much he loves adobo soon after he found out that I’m Filipino, he was considered invisible–never to be seen again.

Years later, I discovered that I have the ability to cook adobo in my own style (minus the greasiness). It was in fact partially inspired by the way my mother in-law made her adobo. Hers didn’t include the greasiness floating to the surface.  In fact when she cooked her adobo, the flavors were simply absorbed by the pork. When I first thought about making adobo my way, I was literally afraid that my Filipino-Spaniard ancestors in heaven (or maybe hell because some of those guys were bad asses–at least that’s what I was told) would cast lighting down to strike me turning my hair back into that 80s perm I had long forgotten. But, that didn’t happen.

Instead, I found a new BFF in my Instapot–who didn’t realize that she will become an accomplice to a decades long of a love-hate relationship.

I started with the basics: cider vinegar (the Bragg’s uber hippy, organic kind), rice vinegar (the basic, but not so basic Marukan), accidental dried bay leaves (from my garden this past summer–accidental because I stuck the fresh ones in a bag and forgot about it–until months later: tada!), sweet onions, a head of garlic, dark soy sauce, sugar (hell no, not in tablespoons, make that ish a cup!), and peppercorns:


Adobo marinate. Photo by JAH.


All of those ingredients were tossed and stirred lazily in the Instapot metal bowl. Then, I added the luscious chicken thighs, and legs:


Adobo in the raw. Photo by JAH.

Yes, I have made this using boneless pork before–but, this time around I wanted to test this adobo with chicken. After I marinated the chicken for about 15 minutes in the Instapot metal bowl, I went ahead and placed it in the Instapot cooker, and chose the manual setting for 30 minutes. After allowing the slow release of the Instapot, the results:

The chicken soaked in the marinate made for very tenderized meat, and there was also the tangy, vinegary, and sweet flavors melding into every bite.


I love adobo again.

So much so that I am going to find new ways to make adobo.

In walks the cookbook Cherry Bombe Adobong manok sa gata recipe. The recipe is from Nicole Ponseca and I’ve decided that I am going to incorporate this new recipe in my lexicon of recipes. I will most definitely write about that experiment later.


In the meantime, for my blasphemous adobo recipe–here you go:

1 pound of chicken (thighs, legs–anything you like)
2-3 dried bay leaves
1 cup of rice vinegar
1 cup of Bragg’s cider vinegar
3/4 cup of dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons of whole peppercorns
1 whole sweet onions sliced thinly
1 cup of sugar (or 1 1/2 cup or 2 cups.. yes, horrible.. I know)
Salt and pepper

1. Mix the bay leaves, rice vinegar, dark soy sauce, whole peppercorns, sliced onions, sugar, salt and pepper in the InstaPot bowl. Mix thoroughly so that the sugar is incorporated with all the other ingredients.
2. Place the chicken, and massage it with the seasonings. Let it sit for 20 minutes.
3. After the chicken has marinated, place the bowl in the Instapot. Press manual option for 30-40 minutes. Do a slow release once the time is up.
4. Serve with rice or tomato and onion relish (which is quite literally: 2 tomatoes, 1/4 red purple onion, salt, pepper, rice vinegar, and fish sauce. Sprinkle some cilantro for flair).
5. Voila.

If you’re Filipino, ask for forgiveness from your ancestors and all your Titas and Titos and Lolos and Lolas. If you’re non-Filipino, you’re safe from the wrath–although, you should ask for forgiveness from your Filipino friends.

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