White adobo

White adobo

Adobong puti

7000 Islands
Jana Liebenstein

Of all places, the first time I ate adobong puti was overlooking active Mt Pinatubo volcano. While the setting was spectacular, the succulent chicken and clean taste of soupy vinegar sauce stood out above all else. Poch Jorolan kindly shared his family’s recipe for this Kapampangan specialty, along with a few tips: use unrefined native (palm) vinegar if possible, otherwise use a top-quality alternative; once the vinegar goes in, don’t stir until it cooks off (Filipinos widely believe that stirring traps the acidic molecules). Contrary to what the name suggests, the sauce is more light brown than pure white.


Quantity Ingredient
60ml vegetable oil
1 large onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 whole chicken, jointed into 8 pieces on bone
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns, plus 1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper extra
125ml native or rice vinegar
3 teaspoons salt flakes, plus extra to serve
1 white onion, sliced into rings, (optional)


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large, deep saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 4 minutes, stirring until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, or until fragrant but not golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl.
  2. Return the pan to medium heat and add the chicken, skin side down. Cook for 2 minutes on each side, or until only just browned (ideally you shouldn’t overbrown the meat but preserve its fair colour). Add 750 ml water and bring to the boil,
  3. skimming any scum from the surface. Return the onion and garlic to the pan, then add the whole peppercorns and vinegar, but do not stir. Return to the boil, then reduce the heat to low–medium and cook for 40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and tender — the vinegar taste of the sauce should no longer be sharp. Remove from the heat, season with the salt and pepper, and stir to combine.
  4. Meanwhile, to cook the onion rings, heat the remaining vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion rings and cook for 3 minutes, or until softened but not browned.
  5. Transfer the adobo to a serving bowl and top with the onion rings. Serve with steamed rice and extra salt.

Where does it come from?

  • There is debate surrounding the origins of Filipino adobo. In Spain, adobo is a condiment; in Mexico, the term (and its derivatives adobado, from verb adobar meaning ‘to pickle’) refers to a marinade. A dominant theory suggests that when colonial powers arrived, natives were cooking a dish that reminded them of their own adobos. The name was given. According to food historian Felice P. Santa Maria, in 1613 a dictionary maker called it adobo de los naturales. A Filipino adobo’s defining trait is its use of vinegar and salt, which helped to preserve the dish in the days before refrigeration.
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