This is my new favourite Asian chicken dish. Everyday ingredients. An amazing depth of flavour for such a fast dish with so few ingredients!
Being of Japanese background, it may be disloyal to say that. I’m sorry mum, you didn’t do a bad job raising me, it’s just that I love love LOVE food with big flavours that are fast to make and this is faster than all my favourite Japanese chicken dishes!
Check out how sticky and thick the sauce is! It truly tastes as incredible as it looks. And it’s SO EASY with just a HANDFUL of ingredients!
I first came across this recipe a few months back when I discovered Sarahlyn’s Kitchen, a fellow Australian blogger with a Filipino background. As soon as I saw her recipe, I knew I had to make it and very shortly thereafter, I did. She makes Chicken Adobo using chicken wings and it’s her father’s recipe – as she says, she finally actually measured quantities!
Being the food nerd that I am, I did my research and discovered that as with most classic recipes, there are many variations. Fundamentally though, the key ingredients are the right balance of soy sauce, vinegar, black pepper and sugar that create an incredibly sticky glaze that has a depth of flavour like it’s been slow cooked – but it’s not!
I’ve made this a handful of times since I first tried it until I found a balance of flavours that I think is perfect, but still using the same ingredients. Not too salty, not too sweet, not too tangy. I am sure there are plenty of Filipino households that use the same recipe I do!
Don’t be afraid of the black peppercorns in this. The spiciness is tempered from both the cooking time and the strength of the flavour of the sauce so it becomes a flavour enhancer rather than pops of spiciness.
I doubt you will need all the sauce this recipe makes. It is so strong and thick, I just coated each piece of chicken in it.
The sauce is GOLD so don’t throw it out! I used it to make fried rice – stir fried rice with chopped up pieces of this chicken, some chopped Asian greens and this sauce. The sauce is so flavoursome that you don’t need anything else!
Hope you consider giving this a go! It truly does have incredible flavour. 🙂
- 1.5lb/750g chicken thigh fillets, boneless and skinless (4 to 6 pieces)
- 6 garlic cloves
- ⅓ cup soy sauce (ordinary all purpose soy sauce, not light or dark soy sauce)
- ⅓ cup + 2 tbsp white vinegar
- 3 dried bay leaves (or 4 fresh)
- 3 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 SMALL brown onion, diced
- 1½ cups water
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp whole black pepper
- 2 shallots/scallions, sliced
- Combine the chicken with 3 garlic cloves (minced), soy sauce, vinegar and bay leaves in a bowl. Marinate for at least 20 minutes, or up to overnight.
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a fry pan over high heat. Remove chicken from marinade (reserve marinade) and place in the pan. Sear both sides until browned – about 1 minute on each side. Do not cook the chicken all the way through. Remove chicken from the fry pan and set aside.
- Heat the remaining 2 tbsp oil, then add the garlic and onion and sauté until the onion is golden and translucent (2 minutes).
- Add the reserved marinade, water, sugar and black pepper. Bring it to a simmer then turn heat down to medium high.
- Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the chicken back in, top side down (ie the smooth side should face down). Leave to simmer uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes (no need to stir) until the sauce reduces down to a thick jam-like syrup and when you turn the chicken over, it is glazed (note - it will thicken slightly as it rests).
- If the sauce isn't thick enough, remove chicken onto a plate and let the sauce simmer by itself - it will thicken much quicker - then return chicken to the skillet to coat in the glaze.
- Set aside to rest for 5 minutes, then serve, garnished with shallots/scallions.
2. This needs to be made with chicken thighs in order for the sauce to thicken because the oil in the chicken is required. This recipe won't work as well with chicken breast.
The best way to achieve the closest result with chicken breast is to add 2 tbsp of any oil to the sauce, take the chicken out once cooked and reduce the sauce right down to become jammy, then smear it on the breast.