26 Sep2008


Adobo is often quoted as being the national dish of the Philippines, at its most basic, it is almost a pork confit with fatty pork, salt, pepper, bay leaves, vinegar, and garlic. But there are probably hundreds of variations of adobo across the archipelago and each home has their own preferred concoction. One of the ways I try to eat less while on a diet, is to cook lots for everyone else. When I come home from a grocery raid, I usually cook up several meals worth of food for us and the crew, so that it can be put away in the fridge or freezer for later in the week. I find this is an extremely efficient way to cook, and one doesn’t have to defrost meats, etc. during the rest of the week as we are often likely to do. Today I cooked up a batch of chicken and pork adobo as I might normally prepare it on the stove (as opposed to the palayok version), but decided to go a little lighter on the vinegar and soy, and the crew threw in some onions(?)… After 30 minutes of simmering, I decided to add some extra chicken livers I had from a batch to be used for another round of lechon liver sauce experiments.


Next, I added several green chillies to the stew, to some raised eyebrows from the crew, and opened up a can of local gata and added the cream floating up on top. The cream appeared curdled and I was more than annoyed when it hit the pot and instantly the dish looked like someone had upchucked on it. I immediately ran into the pantry and pulled out a can of Thai coconut cream and opened that, and poured the top half of the contents into the large pot of adobo and that was incredibly creamy and silky. I rarely find the need to outright bomb a local product, but local canned coconut cream sucks. This isn’t the first time I have felt that way… but this is the first time I have opened two cans in a span of two minutes and the Thai can was just by far much better. Some last minute seasoning adjustmets and the adobo with gata and sili was ready. The verdict? Pretty darned good for a first time experiment, in my biased opinion. It could have been less watery, but that is just my usual preference. Everyone else said the sauce was perfect for adding to their rice. The dish was anchored by that well-loved adobo flavor, but possessed a creamy, spicy twist that crept up on you after several minutes of eating… I had one piece of pork and one piece of chicken with a couple of tablespoons of rice, and my regular diet meal. If you are a fan of Bicolano style dishes, this version of adobo may be just the thing for you!




  1. AleXena says:

    This post brings childhood memories.=)

    In our home we use native chicken for this one. The native chiken is cooked the adobong “puti” way (vinegar, salt and garlic) in a pressure cooker to tenderize the meat a bit then continue boiling it in coconut milk until the oil comes out.

    Chilies are also added but ours is bright orange in color. The cook adds astuete oil to enhance the flavor and visuals as well. Funny, but we pair this dish with flattened-then-fried tulingan and the combination really works=)

    Don’t forget the patis and suka with lots of garlic for sawsawan, piping hot white rice and bananas for dessert. Best paired with coke.

    aaahhhhhhhhh blissss…=)

    Sep 26, 2008 | 2:40 pm


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  3. witsandnuts says:

    Haven’t tried adobo sa gata. Thanks for the idea, MM!

    Sep 26, 2008 | 2:50 pm

  4. Joey says:

    Hi MM- parang medyo maputla (i.e. pale) at masyadong masabaw… Parang mas masarap kung medyo nag-lagis-langis ng konti… A few more minutes of simmering will do the trick! Thanks for the recipe MM at mabuhay!

    Sep 26, 2008 | 3:30 pm

  5. Marketman says:

    Joey, yup, I found it a bit watery… and that’s partially due to adding two instead of only one can of coconut cream. A little thicker sauce would be better, I agree.

    Sep 26, 2008 | 3:39 pm

  6. Mrs. G says:

    This is making me hungry.

    We have one can of coconut milk here but it is made in China. In the news last night, they panned the camera to the canned vegetables in the grocery. It made me nervous!

    Marketman, did you use a local brand?

    Sep 26, 2008 | 3:50 pm

  7. betty q. says:

    Had a hankering for adobo this morning so I bought 2 kg. liempo earlier and cooked your adobo. While at the store, I thought of putting gata as well…lo and behold, after cooking it and checking today’s post, we have the same thing for supper though we are on opposite sides of the globe!

    Have you ladies tried the canned coconut cream that comes frozen? It is by far the best one ever out there….and guess what it’s called….D’BEST coconut cream…I think brand is Simex …red and white label. It tastes just like freshly squeezed coconut cream…the cacang gata! No preservatives added! This is what I use for my TIBOK TIBOK together with organic milk (don’t have access to fresh carabao’s milk here though i have heard that a couple in Vancouver Island has a water buffalo herd now!)….AND NO

    Sep 26, 2008 | 4:22 pm

  8. betty q. says:

    …AND NOW, after I have told my friends about this frozen canned coconut cream and where to get it, I regret telling them who my suki is for this canned coconut cream. Each time I go to her store, she runs out of it sooooo fast!

    Sep 26, 2008 | 4:31 pm

  9. Marketman says:

    bettyq, I think the phenomenon is called blogger’s synchronicity…. :0 Mrs. G., I used a local brand which wasn’t good, and a Thai brand which was much better. I don’t think I have ever purchased Chinese coconut milk…

    Sep 26, 2008 | 4:31 pm

  10. Mikky says:

    a definite “must try” recipe for me… adobo with gata and chili sounds so good… but you’re right, not for one who’s on a diet… :)

    Sep 26, 2008 | 4:39 pm

  11. joey says:

    Adobo sa gata was how my late lolo loved his adobo :) I’ve promised myself to learn how to make it…thanks for the reminder!

    Sep 26, 2008 | 4:40 pm

  12. Socky says:

    I miss my mama!

    (her adobo sa gata was just sublime!)

    Sep 26, 2008 | 5:14 pm

  13. Mrs. G says:

    I’m ecstatic! I checked the coconut milk and it’s made in Thailand. We’re cooking adobo tomorrow.

    Thank you, Marketman :)

    P.S. I checked. Our water chestnuts are made in China.

    Sep 26, 2008 | 6:00 pm

  14. Chu says:

    I think you should shake the can of coconut milk before you use it. Have you tried the powdered version?

    Sep 26, 2008 | 6:06 pm

  15. Marketman says:

    Chu, I precisely picked only the cream at the top half of the can, I wanted it creamier rather than more watery… no, I haven’t tried powdered. Mrs. G, enjoy your adobo! Socky, may i ask what about the mama’s adobo (besides it being made by your wonderful mom, of course) that was so memorable? And have you been able to replicate it in your own kitchen? Joey, was your grandfather from the Bicol area? I am actually curious where folks tend to add gata to their adobo.

    Sep 26, 2008 | 6:27 pm

  16. millet says:

    my mom makes this but without the sili. she also makes a yummy paksiw na bangus with gata and kangkong, which i’ve never been able to get right. i don’t know other people who cook this. do you?

    Sep 26, 2008 | 6:50 pm

  17. sister says:

    Talking about food products from China and the milk contamination scare- I am very careful about the provenance of the food I buy. For example, over 50% of all the garlic sold in the US comes from China and is not often marked as such. California’s production has diminished over the years due to cheap imports. In NYC you can buy long neck garlic from upstate, a far superior garlic. As for coco milk I’ll have to look for the frozen but I agree that the Thai milk is really quite good even if one has to worry about the plastic lining of the cans but a couple of cans a year might be a minimal risk.

    Sep 26, 2008 | 6:53 pm

  18. Jane says:

    I’m eating adobo without gata though as I am reading this post. Yummy. I love adobo with gata and lots of chillies but I seldom cook it as hubby has a sensitive tummy and not so keen on eating anything with gata. I use Thai coconut cream for my adobo.

    Sep 26, 2008 | 7:42 pm

  19. joey says:

    My lolo was from Bacolod but I have no idea if his love for this dish stemmed from childhood…it was here in Manila already that I knew him to eat it. In Whistlestop (is this place still open anywhere?)…it was the only thing he would order!

    I love gata so I’ll definitely try this (along with binagoongan sa gata)…I use that Thai brand they sell in Metro Gaisano…It comes in cream and milk…and “lite” but forget that!

    Sep 26, 2008 | 7:48 pm

  20. Homebuddy says:

    Looks yummy and nice. Will try to make some soon.

    Sep 26, 2008 | 7:50 pm

  21. Connie C says:

    MM, I admire your self control!!!! …….meanwhile those with girth problems drool with

    Would a lttle touch of turmeric or paprika give it a bit of color?

    Sep 26, 2008 | 7:56 pm

  22. Cebuanasenn says:

    Hello MM. I’m a lurker of your blog for a long time now…part of my morning “internet browsing”. You’re doing a great job! Anyway, is adobo dish in Luzon is what we call humba in Visayas and Mindanao? Looks like it. I remember that when my parents would say we’re having adobong manok/baboy, it would just be fried chicken/pork. Humba is this very yummy melt in your mouth fatty pork (like your dish)… LOL. Thank you MM

    Sep 26, 2008 | 8:21 pm

  23. Joycelyn says:

    I know you are allergic to pineapples, MM but this dish reminds me of a favorite chicken dish – chicken pina. It’s soo good with chicken livers. And with fresh gata, please!

    Joey, I miss Whistlestop also! They served one of the best grilled pusit and chicharong bulaklak.

    Sep 26, 2008 | 9:20 pm

  24. siegrez says:

    MM it is very hard to go on diet everytime i visit your site with all the recipes with the pictures and everything it makes me wanna cook and “EAT”….

    Sep 26, 2008 | 10:01 pm

  25. Tricia says:

    Our household cook prepared bangus adobo with gata. She also put chillies. OK naman but I will try this Marketman recipe on chicken pork adobo this weekend! :)

    Speaking of gata, your prawns in coconit milk with sili recipe is a favorite here at home :)

    Sep 26, 2008 | 10:47 pm

  26. Marketman says:

    Tricia, try this with fresh gata, first pressing. I would have used fresh if I had planned ahead… but I decided to try this when the chicken and pork were already bubbling in the pot! siegrez, some readers swear they gain wait just by visiting :) Joycelyn, yes I am allergic to pineapples, but I can imagine what the chicken pina might taste like. Egads, I used to go to Whistlestop when I was a teenager! Cebuanasenn, luzon adobo is similar to Cebuano humba (which was influenced heavily by a Chinese dish, I believe) but without the sugar and sometimes black beans and banana blossoms, I had an earlier post on humba here. And I don’t think most adobos or hubas have coconut milk in them. Connie C, I could have added more dark soy sauce and let the liquid boil down more AND put less coconut cream and it would have been a bit more appetizingly tanned looking. :) I do like the canned Thai for thicker than fresh cream… but for most dishes I do try to use fresh gata… having said that, sometimes curries also taste better to me or at least have a better outhfeel with the canned Thai coconut cream! Jane, you can always make your husband’s adobo, take out his portion and continue cooking a few minutes longer with added gata and sili as a compromise… sister, EVERYTHING these days seems to be coming from China… but I will definitely cut back on ANY food items even suspected of coming from there. Which actually makes me wonder more how the heck they peel all of those perfect segments of canned mandarin oranges…. hmmmm.

    Sep 26, 2008 | 10:58 pm

  27. mikel says:

    when i get to manila next month, all i want to eat at home is adobo. all other food & cuisines for when i eat out. i LoVE adobo. cooked any way.

    Sep 26, 2008 | 11:31 pm

  28. RoBStaR says:

    I cooked this dish about 2 weeks ago with my leftover legs and hooves from my lechon #2. I always seen my mom cook this version and thought it was a dish from bicol or something.
    For mine, I use 3 types of vinegar, datu puti, apple cider and splash of red wine. I also added onions, paprika and jalapeno’s diced and 2 whole ones… yes i am a chilihead. Cooked the adobo the usual way then uncovered it for the last 15 mins. for the sauce to thicken up. Then I added 1 can of thai coconut milk and cooked it for another 15 mins uncovered to thicken the gata… result was something of a curry consistency. and yes… it was perfect for pouring over rice. Note: I was cooking pork, so I was able to cook it longer on the stove without the potential of the meat breaking apart..

    Sep 27, 2008 | 1:15 am

  29. Myra P. says:

    Have it on good authority that Whistlestop may soon be reincarnated, but lots of adjustments to the gargantuan menu still to be made.

    Sep 27, 2008 | 3:15 am

  30. Voltaire Gungab says:


    Check out a book called “The Adobo Cookbook.” My friend gave me a copy last time I was in Manila. It has all kinds of regional adobo recipes, including Adobong Pula (with paprika) and Adobong Dilaw (with turmeric). Also, a Bicolano friend prepares adobo with gata but with a whole chile (not sliced or cut up), so there’s just a hint of heat. We should all be proud of the diversity of our national dish!

    Sep 27, 2008 | 3:25 am

  31. betty q. says:

    Sister: If you manage to find the frozen canned coconut cream distributed by Simex International called D’BEST COCONUT CEAM (product of the Philippines!)containing COCONUT CREAM EXTRACTED from FRESH COCONUT MEAT and nothing added…you WILL NOT go back to the THAI canned ones…AND NO

    Sep 27, 2008 | 8:26 am

  32. RoBStaR says:

    betty q, care to share your suki? heheh jk

    Sep 27, 2008 | 8:44 am

  33. ragamuffin girl says:

    I use 2 kinds of gata here in HK, a canned Thai one and a boxed Thai one where it’s more concentrated and you mix it with water. Hubby loves the 2nd one, says it’s creamier and tastier, but even with straining I still find it gritty. Any suggestions on how to make this smooth?

    MM have you tried making adobo risotto? Yummy! And adobo pasta too. Adobo is the kind of dish you can freeze, thaw out and make a myriad other dishes out of. It’s so versatile.

    How is the milk situation in Manila? Here in HK kids are lining up at radiologist’s clinics to have an ultrasound of their kidneys. It’s evil what these suppliers have done for the sake of profit. It’s hard not to buy China grown produce and other food items here: apart from being the number 1 supplier of practically everything in HK, their prices are irresistibly easy on the pocket. Which makes the situation unbearable.

    Sep 27, 2008 | 7:38 pm

  34. Marketman says:

    ragamuffin, affected brands and food products were published in the papers here today… the list is pretty frightening, but as you say, most Manilenos don’t even realize the vast majority of their onions, garlic and other vegetables are probably now grown in China, possibly in nightsoil, or worse, some other toxic chemicals… Thank goodness we only drink Australian milk… aside from the occasional carabao’s milk we use for leche flan, etc.

    Sep 27, 2008 | 8:47 pm

  35. Mrs.Sound says:

    Yeah! I’m from Philippines and I really love adobo. But your recipe has a different style. Great job.

    Sep 27, 2008 | 9:15 pm

  36. Lyn says:

    I have actually delisted from my market list all China made foodstuffs, you’ll never know what the next toxic ingredient they will discover. However, I can’t seem to get a substitute for canned mushrooms…all of the brands in the supermarkets come from China!!! Of course I can shift to fresh mushrooms but canned mushrooms is just so convenient to have around…its a staple in our pantry. Anyone who comes across any brand coming from elsewhere..please share your source.

    Sep 28, 2008 | 1:55 am

  37. betty q. says:

    Hey RoBStaR…I found the canned frozen coconut cream in the Filipino store where I am here in PoCo….the ONLY Filipino Store in our area. I have searched for it for soooo long after tasting it about 10 years ago. None of the other stores here carry it even the big Asian stores. Using my connections in the food industry, I tracked down the wholesaler and get directly from them now. I buy 1 case at a time…at a much cheaper price of course than retail. This way, I have a constant supply of it. I am sure the Asian wholesalers there would carry it since the distributor Simex Ineterntional is based in San Francisco. I hope this helps!…AND NO ….LADIES AND GENTLEMEN…I DO NOT WORK FOR THE COMPANY NOR AM I RELATED IN ANY WAY TO THEM!!!!

    Sep 28, 2008 | 4:24 am

  38. Ralph P. says:

    awesome. i just recently discovered your site, and i’ve been busy catching up. i’m now a fan. thank you.

    Sep 28, 2008 | 4:55 am

  39. Beth says:

    Hi Bettyq!You said you’re in PoCo—is that Port Coquitlam?Just curious because I have a cousin who lives there and first time I heard the shorcut name it reminded me of Pocahontas!:)

    Sep 28, 2008 | 7:11 am

  40. Beth says:

    Hi MM!Just the other day I was trying to cook pork adobong puti and while it was simmering I decided to put a can of liverspread hoping to get a “livery sauce” but it didnt turn out as I expected as when you use fresh liver then I remembered your lechon liver sauce and voila!– I added onions, sugar and breadcrumbs and I had a very delicious lechon paksiw!

    Sep 28, 2008 | 7:18 am

  41. wysgal says:

    Looks great … at a cost though I’m sure. Coconut milk is crazy fattening!

    Sep 28, 2008 | 11:26 am

  42. EbbaMyra says:

    Funny I always cook my left over adobo this way, and yes with a Thai brand Coconut CREME (not milk) and with added spinach (fresh preferably). My african american son in law, as well as my texan husband loves it. When I put my creme, I usually don’t stir it anymore, just let it boil for 5 mins, swirl the pot so that the juice mixes but without disturbing the dish, and then medium high heat simmering till the oil comes out. I do add chiles too, and leaves. Its really great.

    Sep 29, 2008 | 9:25 pm

  43. EbbaMyra says:

    In addition, when I only have chicken breast for this dish, I add coconut oil in the last 10 mins of simmering.

    Sep 29, 2008 | 9:26 pm

  44. EbbaMyra says:

    Lyn, I use canned (or bottled) mushrooms from Mexico. And sometimes from Europe. I get it from HEB Wholefoods grocery.

    Sep 29, 2008 | 9:28 pm

  45. RoBStaR says:


    is that what they meant when they said, a minute to the lips, forever on the hips?

    Sep 30, 2008 | 7:11 am

  46. esther says:

    number 1, yes onions go nice with adobo and
    number 2, yes, the local gata sucks! I like the Thai ones best.. How can something so native to our country suck so bad?!

    Jan 2, 2009 | 4:31 pm

  47. oscar perez says:

    I got hold of your site from my niece in Pasig and have been reading the comments of readers from all over !! And now, it’s show time !!! I’ll go shopping for adobo (I’ll try to look for a trader with wild pig )!! In our place, we have lamb and sheep meat and deer too but wild pig, I have to ask . I would like to try the Phil. version of coconut milk and the Thai version too . Bis Bald !!!

    Feb 17, 2009 | 3:08 pm


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