The Simple Addition That Transforms Chicken Adobo

Chicken adobo may be a widely popular dish in the Phillipines (via CNN), but its ingredients are a subject that divides people. Per Culture Trip, adobo always starts the same way — with vinegar, garlic, black peppercorns, and a protein — but anything added on top of that varies from region to region. The reason for this isn't due to varying tastes across the country but rather the influence of Chinese settlers, Spanish colonizers, and the availability of different ingredients. 

Chinese traders who settled in the Philippines introduced locals to soy sauce, and it quickly became a replacement for salt, eventually making its way into adobo. Most recipes now use soy sauce as the base and the more traditional ones that don't are simply referred to as white adobo or adobong puti (via Easy Filipino Cooking). 

In regions with easy access to seafood, adobo was often made with squid, fish, and shrimp, explains Yummy Philippines. Adding turmeric to adobo — aka adobo sa dilaw — is common in the province of Cavite due to the abundance of the crop. There's one ingredient, however, that many consider key to transforming adobo's flavor and texture.

Try adding coconut milk to your adobo

In the Southern Luzon and Bicol regions of the Philippines, coconut is a staple ingredient, so their regional spin on chicken adobo is to add coconut milk and sometimes meat to the broth (via Yummy Philippines). According to Food & Wine, coconut milk not only adds a creamy element to the dish, but it also mellows out the acidity of the vinegar and the saltiness of the soy sauce. For the ideal consistency, Urban Bliss Life recommends using full-fat canned coconut milk because it will create a much richer, creamier adobo than if you use the fresh kind sold in a carton. 

For every ½ cup of soy sauce, Food & Wine recommends using one 13-ounce can (or about one and a half cups) of coconut milk. However, if you don't want the coconut flavor to be nearly as strong, Kitchn recommends using equal amounts of both. To incorporate the coconut milk into the broth, simply whisk it in with the soy sauce and vinegar, then add garlic, black pepper, chicken, and any other ingredients you would normally add. When you taste the resulting broth, you'll understand why coconut is a staple ingredient in some regions of the Philippines.