Cover Chicken adobo (Photo: Johanne Siy)

Lolla head chef Johanne Siy shares her tried-and-tested recipe that is easy to replicate

Think of Filipino cuisine and adobo—which is considered the Philippines’ national dish—immediately comes to mind. It is not surprising, given its versatility (you can use different meats!) and its popularity amongst Filipino households who have tailored the recipes according to their preference. Moreover, it is often cooked in bigger portions that are meant to be shared with the whole family.

Lolla head chef Johanne Siy came up with her original recipe while working at three-Michelin-starred French Restaurant Le Bernardin in New York. Staff meals were always a grand affair and she came up with her version to be served to the whole team. She recalls: “A few years after I left the restaurant, one of the sous chefs asked me for the recipe. Chef Eric Ripert liked it so much that he wanted to put an adobo-inspired dish on the menu.”

Siy explains that her recipe is “straightforward and easily executable at home”. She also uses a lot of leftovers from preparing other dishes as the core ingredients. As she puts it: “You need to be a hoarder like me, who refuses to throw out scraps like pork fat, chicken bones and carcasses to make it. I accumulate these things in the freezer until I have enough to make a batch.” To enhance the flavours, Siy also recommends roasting the chicken in the oven to attain a crispy skin.

Related: Meet The Filipino Food Evangelists 'Reversing Colonisation'

Chicken Adobo Recipe

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 kg chicken drumsticks
  • 100g peeled garlic cloves
  • 150g soy sauce
  • 150g cane, palm or apple cider vinegar
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 15g freshly ground black and white peppercorns
  • 400g brown chicken jus* 
  • 800g water
  • 100g pork lard cubes (slowly crisped up in its own rendered fat)
  • 2 whole garlic heads
  • Fish sauce to taste
  • Neutral oil (canola/ soy/ grapeseed/ vegetable oil)
  • Salt to taste

* Made from roasted chicken carcass, trim, left-overs, white wine, water and mirepoix. Of course, if you are not in the habit of hoarding, you can buy this from speciality stores that sell flavorful chicken jus with a lot of body.

METHOD

Day 1:

  1. Wash the chicken thighs and drumsticks thoroughly. Drain out excess water and pat the meat dry. Marinate in a mix of equal parts fish sauce, soy sauce and rendered pork fat. You don’t need too much, just enough for all the pieces to be coated with the marinade. Crush 10 peeled garlic cloves with the side of a knife. Add into the chicken and massage everything together. Cover and leave overnight in the fridge to marinate.

Day 2:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 230C. Take out the chicken from the marinade. Pat dry and season on all sides with salt and pepper. Lay out the chicken on a greased rack with enough space in between to allow the air/ heat to circulate in the oven for even browning. Roast till golden and crispy (internal temperature of about 70-75 C). Reserve chicken and all the drippings.
  2. In the meantime, make the sauce/base. Slowly sweat the garlic cloves in the rendered pork fat. When golden, add the chicken jus, water, vinegar, remaining soy sauce, bay leaves, and garlic heads. Let it slowly simmer until garlic is super tender and the liquid is reduced to about 60%. Adjust the seasoning to taste with fish sauce, salt and ground pepper. Put roasted chicken and drippings in the liquid and let it soak and simmer for a bit until all the flavours meld together. Top with crispy bits of pork lard. Enjoy with loads of steaming rice.

Related: Mushroom Beef Bulgogi: How To Cook This Korean Dish At Home