Chicken Adobo

Filipino comfort food at its best

Adobo is probably one of the most well-known Filipino dishes, and rightfully so. Meat is simmered in a rich broth of stock with soy sauce and vinegar for a tangy and salty braise. In this recipe, Alvin Cailan of Amboy and Eggslut in L.A. brines chicken in calamansi juice, a popular citrus in the region, before searing and braising it.

Cailan, who is releasing an Amboy cookbook soon, combines this classic Filipino dish with a dash of French technique with the addition of beurre manié. This refers to the process of mixing butter and flour until smooth, then whisking it into a sauce or broth at the end of cooking. It adds a touch of body and plenty of richness, which is perfect in this vinegary broth.

To learn more, read "Treasures Island."

Recipe adapted from Alvin Cailan, Amboy, Los Angeles, CA

Chicken Adobo
4.4 from 53 ratings
In his chicken adobo recipe, Alvin Cailan brines chicken thighs and drumsticks in calamansi juice before searing and braised them in vinegar and soy sauce.
Prep Time
Cook Time
to 6 servings
Total time: 2.17 hours
  • For the Brine
  • 16 cups cold water, divided
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup calamansi juice, or lime juice
  • For the Adobo
  • 6 chicken legs, thighs and drumsticks separated
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 16 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 12 cups chicken stock
  • ¾ cup Datu Puti vinegar
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • Steamed rice, for serving
  1. Make the brine: In a large pot, heat 4 cups of the water with the salt, brown sugar and calamansi juice over high heat. Cook until the salt and sugar have dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and add the remaining 12 cups of cold water to cool the brine.
  2. Make the adobo: Place the chicken thighs and drumsticks in the cooled brine. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  3. The next day, remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry. Discard the brine, clean the pot and return it to the stovetop. Add the oil and heat over medium-high heat. Working in batches, sear the chicken, turning as needed, until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes per batch, then transfer to a plate.
  4. Once all the chicken is seared, add the garlic and cook until lightly golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly add in the chicken stock, using a wooden spoon to scrape off any of the fond on the bottom of the pan. Add the seared chicken with the vinegar, soy sauce and bay leaves, then bring to a simmer.
  5. Cook, uncovered, until the stock has reduced slightly and the chicken is fall-off-the-bone tender, 1½ hours. Transfer the chicken to a large bowl and discard the bay leaves.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the flour and butter. Using your hands, mix together until a thick paste forms. Working with a tablespoon at a time, whisk the flour mixture into the simmering liquid until it is incorporated, adding body to the broth. Ladle the broth over the chicken, then serve with rice.
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