½ a medium-size carrot (if using a whole chicken)
½ an onion, peeled (if using a whole chicken)
120ml (½ cup) coconut vinegar
25ml (5 tsp) dark soy sauce
25ml (5 tsp) light soy sauce
100ml (¼ cup plus 2 tbsp + 2 tsp) coconut milk
5 grams (1½ tsp) whole black peppercorns
8-12 large garlic cloves, peeled
1-2 red bird’s-eye chillies
3 bay leaves, fresh or dried
100ml (¼ cup plus 2 tbsp + 2 tsp) unsalted chicken broth, home-made or bought
Sugar (preferably coconut sugar), if necessary
Mix the seasonings and garlic cloves. Photo: Jonathan Wong
1 If using a whole chicken, separate it into parts: two each of thighs, drumsticks, wings and boneless breasts, and one back. Set aside the wing tips, neck, carcass and head (if there is one). If using chicken legs, separate them into drumsticks and thighs.
2 Pour the coconut vinegar, soy sauces and coconut milk into a bowl.
3 Lightly crush the black peppercorns – I use a Japanese suribachi (grinding bowl) – then add them to the bowl.
4 Use the side of a knife to lightly crush the garlic cloves. Cut the chilli(es) into thin rings, shaking out and discarding the seeds as you go. Add the garlic, chillies and bay leaves to the bowl.
Pour the seasonings and garlic cloves over the chicken. Photo: Jonathan Wong
5 Put the chicken pieces into the bowl and mix well. Refrigerate for at least three hours, mixing occasionally.
6 While the chicken is marinating, make the broth (if using a whole chicken). Put the wing tips, neck, carcass and head in a medium-sized pan. Add the celery, carrot and onion, then pour in enough water to cover the ingredients. Bring to a boil over a medium-high flame, then lower the heat, partially cover the pan with the lid, and cook at a low simmer for about 45 minutes. Strain the ingredients through a colander placed over a bowl.
7 Pour the marinade into a low non-reactive skillet that’s large enough to hold the meat in one layer. Mix in 100ml of broth, then arrange the chicken pieces so they are skin-side up.
8 Place the skillet over a medium-high flame and bring to a boil. Cover the pan with the lid, then lower the flame so the liquid is at a medium simmer.
Simmer the ingredients together. Photo: Jonathan Wong
9 Cook for five minutes, then turn over the chicken. Cover the pan again and simmer for 10 minutes, then remove the wings and breast pieces.
10 Turn the remaining pieces of chicken over so the skin side is up. Cover the pan again and simmer for five to 10 minutes, or until the thighs are fully cooked.
11 Taste the sauce and if necessary stir in a little sugar (a teaspoon or less).
12 Place the breasts back in the pan and simmer uncovered for about five minutes, or until the sauce lightly coats the meat. Frequently spoon the sauce over the meat.
13 Serve the adobo with steamed white rice or garlic rice.
Styling: Nellie Ming Lee. Kitchen: Courtesy of Wolf at House of Madison