IN MY BASKET By Lydia D. Castillo (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 17, 2013 – 12:00am


But what, truly, is the real adobo? International books on cookery trace the history of adobo to Mexico. It was originally a sauce made from ground chili, herbs and vinegar used as marinade. It evolved into a stew-like dish of meat cooked in the sauce.

adobo sa dilawA reader, Pilar, asked about the yellow adobo of Batangas which won the adobo competition in Taal last year. This led us to think of how varied the recipes of this dish are, from the onion flavored interpretation of some expat chefs to the traditional way of cooking it with a mixture of vinegar, salt or soy sauce, and pepper.

Nancy Lumen, food book author and  TV host, with the late Ronnie Alejandro, New York-based culinary expert, collaborated on “The Adobo Book” which contains more than a hundred adobo recipes, from years past to the present, which has given the dish some innovative twists.

But what, truly, is the real adobo? International books on cookery trace the history of adobo to Mexico. It was originally a sauce made from ground chili, herbs and vinegar used as marinade. It evolved into a stew-like dish of meat cooked in the sauce. How it came to be the country’s national dish is unclear, but traditionally the Filipino adobo, enjoyed from generation to generation.

Where we grew up, our traditional adobo is made of either chicken or pork, or maybe a mix of both, marinated in a mixture of vinegar, lots of crushed garlic (the native variety), either salt or soy sauce with peppercorns and ground black pepper. It is then simmered over low fire. It is verboten to stir it before it comes to a full boil, or you will have the raw taste of the vinegar. For a richer flavor and texture, as taught us by our Batangas forebears, we would add slices of pork liver which, when done, would be pounded and added to the adobo shortly before taking it off the stove.

To make the meat crunchy, we would fry the pieces to a  crisp prior to serving, pouring the oil and all the fat rendered over the dish. Truly delicious!

Last year, we were among those who went to Taal for their food festival. Here we encountered the yellow adobo, which among all the entries, to our mind and those of the other judges, represented the most authentic adobo. It turned out that in Batangas, adobo is cooked with turmeric ginger, presumably for color and texture. It was great, that one.

So for Pilar and others who may be interested, here is the recipe for the yellow adobo of Batangas.


Half kilo pork, kasim or liempo, sliced to serving pieces

1 kilo chicken, sliced

3 medium-size onions, sliced

2 heads native garlic, crushed

3-inch long turmeric ginger, pounded

1 cup Tagalog vinegar

1 tsp salt

1 cup oil


After cleaning both chicken and pork, set aside.

In a bowl, mix all other ingredients except the oil, saving some of the onion and garlic.

Marinate the pork and chicken in the mixture for one hour.

Sauté in oil the garlic and onion.

Add pork and chicken, reserving the marinade.

When almost done, pour the marinade, let simmer without stirring.

When into full boil, stir and lower the fire. Continue simmering until liquid thickens and the oil is rendered from the pork fat. Correct seasoning if required.

There is your yellow adobo a la Batangas, with thanks to our culinary friend in Taal, Dindo, and the originator of the recipe, Ka Ely.

Have a good adobo meal!