30 Apr2014


I had never tried adobo with gata (coconut cream) and chilies before. Or at least I wasn’t consciously aware it was an adobo with gata. I love adobo, so I thought that was a bit odd. Into the kitchen and I cooked chicken adobo with gata TWICE in less than a week and have really taken to it — a classic sour/salty garlicky chicken now with a layer of slightly sweet creamy texture… with chili to boot!


Here’s the current version of the recipe I have been working with. Ideally, you should brine your chicken parts for about 3-4 hours before you start this recipe. If you’re in a hurry, you may choose to skip that step. Next, in a large pan, add 3-4 tablespoons of lard or vegetable oil and put the heat up to medium high. Brown two kilos of chicken parts that have been blotted dry with paper towels, in several batches so as not to “crowd” the pan. Remove the browned chicken and place it on a dish for a few minutes until all the chicken is browned. The pan will now have quite a bit of lard/chicken fat in it — drain all but 2 tablespoons of the fat and turn the heat to medium. Add some 6-10 smashed cloves of garlic (more if you desire) and stir for a minute or so until fragrant, then add the browned chicken parts, about 3/4 cup of cider vinegar, a little less than 1/2 cup of dark soy sauce, about 1 tablespoon of whole black peppercorns, 5-6 small dried bay leaves and let this come to a boil for about 5 minutes WITHOUT stirring the pot. After the five minutes, try to stir the chicken pieces so everything gets bathed in the sauce. Next add about 2 cups of freshly squeezed coconut milk and two finger chilies chopped into 3-4 pieces each. You may want to add more chilies to your desired level of spiciness.


Let this all gurgle for about 15 minutes more until the sauce thickens, then serve hot, garnished with some young garlic chives (because I happened to have them) or fresh sprigs of coriander. If you want to add some boiled eggs, add them (peeled) to the adobo about 5 minutes before turning off the heat. I find that the chicken pieces lose moisture into this “stew” hence my suggestion you serve this freshly cooked rather than hours later. The flavor is classically adobo in nature, but the richness and smoothness of the coconut cream with the hint OR hit of chilies makes it more interesting, complex and delicious. It reminds me a bit of a curry, but not quite. And you will absolutely need a phenomenal amount of steamed rice and perhaps a fresh salsa of tomatoes on the side. Enjoy!



  1. bearhug0127 says:

    Rice, please! I am so hungry right now I could almost taste this.

    Apr 30, 2014 | 8:10 am


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  3. millet says:

    this is a house favorite – everyone loves the sauce, i think sometimes more than the meat. MM, have you tried paksiw na bangus sa gata? you cook bangus as paksiw, and then just before it’s done, add about half a cup of pure coconut milk simmer just enough to cook the gata a bit – stir so it doesn’t curdle. add a bunch of kangkong (we love the kangkong stems in this dish!) just before turning off the fire.

    Apr 30, 2014 | 8:31 am

  4. Betchay says:

    I will make this for lunch!

    Apr 30, 2014 | 8:45 am

  5. Clarissa says:

    I tried this recently too. But I skipped the soy sauce and went with just salt. So it actually looked like regular ginataan, but with the surprise sour kick :)

    Apr 30, 2014 | 10:09 am

  6. Footloose says:

    I’m not sure if this is close to the Filipino chicken adobo that Cook’s Illustrated foisted on its mainstream readership sometime ago that laughing friends derided. Of course, using fresh coconut milk instead of tinned makes all the difference plus the chili.

    Apr 30, 2014 | 11:05 am

  7. ginabeans91 says:

    this post is blowing my mind. out of all your posts i’ve read over the years, this one is making me want to run to the kitchen! pronto!

    Apr 30, 2014 | 11:51 am

  8. bakerwannabe says:

    Footloose, this is indeed very similar. The unusual thing with ATK’s process is they start out by browning the chicken on a cold skillet without any fat or oil. MM, I could taste your adobo just looking at the pictures. It looks very scrumptious. I have to try this.

    Apr 30, 2014 | 12:03 pm

  9. Botchok says:

    During my childhood days we used to have this almost every week because my grandpa is a “sabungero” , and this is the best way to cook those fighting roosters. Nowadays whenever we like to have this dish we try to find native chicken as it really taste better for me .

    Apr 30, 2014 | 12:17 pm

  10. k says:

    What do you put in the chicken brine?

    Apr 30, 2014 | 3:20 pm

  11. Zerho says:

    Will definitely try this out! Gata and adobo are two of my favorite pinoy flavours.
    Marketman you should try cooking mungo with gata, I think it would add the same richness described on this post.

    Apr 30, 2014 | 6:18 pm

  12. Marketman says:

    Zerho, I have posts on monggo with gata, and we serve a version with lechon and gata at Zubuchon as well. :) K, salt primarily, bay leaves, peppercorns and a touch of sugar if you want a bit of sweetness. Footloose, I had the same reaction to that version in Cook’s Illustrated… I nearly wrote them a letter but let it slide…

    Apr 30, 2014 | 9:44 pm

  13. Connie C says:

    This dish has several variations in my household. On my one-meal-dish days, I’d throw in some string beans before I add the gata. And since I do not want an oily gata, I add the milk towards the end of the cooking turning off the heat once the dish boils.
    Sometimes I omit the soy sauce and use shrimp bagoong or patis for seasoning instead.
    Without the soy sauce, the adobo can be anemically pale and turmeric can give it a little color but I leave out the bay leaves.

    I also find that the meat keeps moist if braised straight away without frying . Or I do the frying midway into the cooking while the chicken pieces are half done and still firm. Splattering is minimized if I drain most of the liquid leaving the chicken to fry in its own fat then putting the liquid back into the pan to finish the cooking after I drain off the extra fat.

    Apr 30, 2014 | 10:35 pm

  14. NYCgurl says:

    do you think its okay if I use chicken breast without skin for this recipe? I want to use chicken breast (a healthy option) but afraid it will be dry and tasteless.

    May 1, 2014 | 1:08 am

  15. millet says:

    great plating, by the way, MM. proof that our “brown food” does not have to deconstructed and/or ornamented till kingdom come just to make it attractive.

    May 3, 2014 | 6:27 am

  16. Eva Mondragon says:

    NYC – Although I prefer using the whole cut-up chicken for adobo, I have also used chicken breasts only on several occasions. Each time, the adobo comes out moist and delicious. The sauce has enough consistency to adhere to the meat which prevents it from drying.

    May 4, 2014 | 12:57 pm

  17. Dinno says:

    Wow, I’ll try this recipe using native chicken.

    May 7, 2014 | 2:34 am


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