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An Intro to Adobo: Tender Chicken Adobo Recipe for First-Timers - Karman Foods

An Intro to Adobo: Tender Chicken Adobo Recipe for First-Timers

a bowl of tender chicken adobo

Ask any of your Filipino friends what their recommended Filipino dish is and for sure, one of the answers will be adobo. We'll get into the basics of adobo, the best sauces for adobo recipes, and cap it off with a beginner-friendly Chicken Adobo recipe, so you can enjoy this Filipino favorite in under an hour!


Even locals will debate on adobo’s official position as the Philippines’ national dish because it’s definitely high up in the ranks along with sinigang, lechon, and kare-kare. 

Way before the Philippines was colonized by the Spaniards, our ancestors have developed ways of preserving food in a tropical climate through vinegar and soy sauce. When the Spanish arrived, Franciscan Friar Pedro de San Buenaventura coined the term adobo de naturales or adobo of the natives to refer to this meat preservation technique. 

At present, adobo may refer to either the dish or the method of marinating and stewing meat in vinegar, soy sauce, and spices. This yields a mix of tangy, savory, and tender flavors that best goes with white rice. Given this definition, there really is no one recipe for adobo.


They say there are as many varieties of adobo as there are cooks in the Philippines and they are all special and delicious in their own ways. Most adobo variants differ in their regional origins and the base ingredient that they use. There’s adobo sa gata (coconut milk), adobo sa asin (salt), adobong puti (white vinegar), adobong dilaw (turmeric), and many more.


There may be several ways to prepare this well-loved Filipino dish but one thing is certain: you can't leave out vinegar and soy sauce in the recipe!

The vinegar's acidity will mellow down as you cook but it is the secret ingredient behind that tender and juicy adobo meat.

a bottle of Coconut Secret Raw Coconut Vinegar next to a bowl of salad

Any good quality vinegar will do fine and neutralize the saltiness from your soy sauce but Filipino coconut sap vinegar is guaranteed to yield the best results.

Available in Karman Foods online, Coconut Secret's Raw Coconut Vinegar is a 100% organic and Filipino-made product that's easier on the palate and less harsh in flavor than apple cider vinegar. Plus, it's also loaded with vitamins, minerals, and amino acid content. This might just be the perfect base for your adobo!

a bottle of Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos bottle next to a spoon dipped in a bowl of soy sauce

When it comes to the use of soy sauce, adobo purists (yes, they exist!) will not include it in their recipes and stick with coconut milk. However, soy sauce is a great complement to vinegar. While vinegar offers a tingling sourness, soy sauce adds an irresistible savory taste that will have you asking for seconds.

For our top soy sauce for adobo, we recommend the Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos Soy-Free Seasoning Sauce. As the name suggests, it's a soy-free alternative to soy sauce that's made from organic coconut tree sap and mineral-rich salt from Mindanao, Philippines. This means you won't have to worry about coconut flavors getting in the way of your usual salty soy sauce flavors.

We highly recommend this product because not only does it come from the homeland of adobo, but it's also a healthier alternative to soy sauce with 73% less sodium. Asking for seconds wouldn't be so bad with this in your recipe!


When it comes to the meat used, anything goes! Chicken is a popular choice, but pork, beef, and even seafood variants also exist. Whichever region you’re from, one thing stood the test of time: vinegar and soy sauce remain at the heart of adobo. 


If it’s your first time making adobo, let’s start with the basics! Here’s an easy no-fail Chicken Adobo recipe from Panlasang Pinoy with links to Organic Coconut Secret products available via Karman Foods online to help you prepare this Filipino-favorites. All these ingredients are available in our Filipino Market, what are you waiting for, try it now!