Sunday, October 9, 2011

Adobong Manok Sa Tomato Sauce (Chicken Adobo with Tomato Sauce)

I have three words for this dish – INGENIUS, FABULOUS and DELICIOUS. I kid you not. This is one smart variation of adobo worthy of your time, money, effort and yes, experimentation. :) The improved “adobo” flavor of the dish, which for me transcends way beyond the flavor boundaries of garlic, vinegar and soy sauce, is simply amazing …… a welcome development for a dish extremely popular and widely eaten and that has essentially established itself to be like a cuisine of its own …… that is so dynamic …… continuously evolving …… reinventing …… even as we speak now.

The credit goes to a family friend Michael of Padre Garcia, Batangas (Philippines) from whom we learned the rather brilliant idea. This is basically how he cooks his popular and much-loved (by friends, relatives and guests) pork “adobo” which I tried recreating here in Sri Lanka through the use of the all-time available and very dependable chicken. Okay, okay, I like pork too but we don’t have one at the moment and I can’t wait any longer. :-)

While this technique has similarity with the “adobo” cooked with fresh tomatoes which I myself have prepared several times in the past (though not yet featured here), the use of the richer and fuller-flavored tomato sauce makes for a much improved “adobo” taste, at least according to my humble judgment. This I believe is due to the added hints of balanced sweetness and acidity that is naturally present in tomato sauce. I also thought that the aroma diffuse during cooking is also something very delightful, suggestive of a very good dish in the making …… but don’t just take my words for it …… you have to smell it to believe it …… so try doing it now! :-)

For the huge league of adobo lovers, the avid fans and followers of the typical adobo for which I am an active and dedicated member, this is only an option or alternative, sort of further enhancement intended to stir excitement and renew interest and not really find replacement to the authentic “adobo” for which the goodness has been running through the veins of each and every Filipino.

While I always prefer using cut-up whole chicken including its giblets (liver, heart, gizzard and neck) in an “adobo” for richer taste, I will just be using a combination of choice chicken cuts compose of the thigh (my all-time fave cut), legs and wings for this preparation.

To accommodate a rather large group such as ours, we need about 1.5 kilograms or about 3.3 lbs cut-up chicken. The meat should be properly cleaned to remove feather remnants in and around the legs and wings section, washed several times to remove traces of blood and then fully drained.

The other ingredients needed are: 1/3 cup (about 90 ml) tomato sauce, 1 head garlic, peeled and minced, 1 large onion, peeled and chopped, ½ tsp whole peppercorn, ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper (or more), about ½ cup natural vinegar (please adjust accordingly, depending on the acidity), ½ cup soy sauce, 2 small bay leaves, about 2 tbsp of vegetable oil for sautéing and some iodized salt to taste.

Additionally, we need about 4 small potatoes, peeled and cut up and about 1 cup broth or hot water for simmering.

The first step is to marinate the chicken with the vinegar, soy sauce and ground pepper (use more if you like, I did). Marinate inside the fridge for about an hour. Stir occasionally to have even infusion of marinade into the meat.

In a large heavy pan or wok, heat the oil and fry garlic until it is slightly browned. Add in onions and cook until it is translucent. Add in tomato sauce and sauté until it boils. Continue cooking on low heat until the sauce becomes somewhat oily and has caramelized a bit. Add the marinated chicken pieces and lightly stir to evenly coat with the sauce. Pour the leftover marinade and simmer on medium heat until partially cooked through and some liquid has evaporated.

Add in bay leaves, whole peppercorn and some salt to taste. Pour in some broth or hot water as necessary and continue simmering until the chicken is just tender. At this point, add in potatoes and continue simmering until everything is fully cooked through; when the potato is already soft and chicken would easily fall off the bones when bitten.

You can finish it off at your preferred consistency level of the sauce. For me, I want it reduced, has slightly thickened and already somewhat oily.
Transfer in a serving platter. Serve it with lots of plain steamed rice or fried rice. Like any other “adobo”, the dish is better served alongside some chopped fresh tomatoes and/or pickled green papaya (“atchara”). As I told you, this is one very yummy “adobo” …… and very fragrant too. :-)

There it is, “Adobong Manok sa Tomato Sauce” …… a new addition to our long list of “adobo” preparations. Thanks Michael for the inspiration. This is among my favorites now. Try it and enjoy guys! c“,)


  1. This adobo looks so delicious. A bit of asado in it too. Just the perfect ulam for rice. Patis on the side, please.

  2. thanks Adora, yes I just realise that asado hint of this adobo .... what I hate about this ... it made me eat more rice ... :)

  3. Ohhh great alternative to the regular adobo.

  4. indeed joy, we have other option just in case the need arises

  5. i guess the quantity of tomato sauce is not so much to impart a reddish color and it is in fact balanced out by the almost equivalent quantities of soy sauce and vinegar ... thank you :-)

  6. Thanks for the tip. Will surely cook this kind of adobo...:)

  7. welcome Albert-ERT, hope you'll like the dish when you try it ..... very soon :)

  8. Hi, I tried this recipe and my house was filled with a delicious aroma of adobo/asado ahhh my son's says can't wait mom! Finally, it was super saraaaap!! Thanks to you! God bless the works of your hands :)

  9. In Panay, especially in Antique, they cook abobo with tomatoes and hardly any vinegar, shaking the wok while cooking until a shimmering coat is achieved. the use of potato with abobo is common in Leyte. so perhaps your abobo is Visayan in style.



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