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So Much Ado About Adobo: How Many Recipes Are Really Out There?

In the Philippines, adobo is widely – though unofficially - claimed to be the national dish. It’s a rare occurrence for a Pinoy to turn away from this homey, “reminds you of your mother’s cooking” dish. And what’s not to love about it? This savory recipe is the epitome of balance – a beautiful blend of flavors that simply delight the taste buds. It gives you everything – sweet, sour, salty – all wrapped in one amazing dish.



Adobo usually consists of meat that is stewed or braised in a sauce made from vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaf and peppercorns. It’s the comfort food of every Pinoy and is best enjoyed with heaping cups of rice.

Thought loved by all, adobo, in some sense, has become a polarizing topic. As many foodies and chefs have argued, how can something be considered a national dish when there’s no one way to make it? As one looks into the kitchens across the regions, in the different households, every family has their own heirloom recipe, all touted to be the best. 

But in the end, does it really matter? It all tastes good and we’re given more ways to enjoy our favorite dish.

Here we share some of the unique ones.




Before we get into discussing adobo’s different variants, we first have to understand the classic recipe. This foundation dish is what every Pinoy will have to learn in their adult life.

For the classic pork adobo, one simply marinades the pork belly in soy sauce and garlic for at least an hour before transferring it to the pot. Add water, whole pepper corns and dried bay leaves with vinegar and boil. Within hours, enjoy an incredibly tasty and tender adobo. It’s that easy!





At first look, this adobo looks more like curry than anything. But once you dig in, it boasts the same beautiful blend and balance of flavors. This adobo, which is said to have originated from Taal, Batangas, is cooked following the traditional adobo recipe, but takes on an appetizing yellow color thanks to the turmeric or luyang dilaw, which is used to color the dish instead of soy sauce. The turmeric lends a distinct yet delicious mustardy aftertaste.




As many are familiar with Chinese braised recipes, this version of the adobo takes on a sweeter taste with a thickened sauce. The difference between braised adobo and the classic adobo is the addition of sugar, which contributes to creating that beautiful glaze.




This version of adobo just hits all the rights spots with its rich and creamy texture. This recipe follows the same foundation recipe of adobo, but coconut milk (gata) is added right at the very end.




This version puts a modern twist to adobo but the “adoboness’ comes more into play with the making of the sauce. A little of the adobo sauce/ marinade is mixed with brewed coffee, ketchup, corn syrup, lime juice and other spices, which when reduced creates this amazing dipping sauce perfect for fork-tender ribs.