There’s white adobo and there’s dark adobo. This chicken adobo with lemongrass is white adobo. Chicken stewed in vinegar with garlic, pepper, lemongrass and bay leaves, and seasoned with patis (fish sauce).
It isn’t unusual for an adobo dish not to include soy sauce. In fact, historically, white adobo is older than dark adobo. In between, the variations are endless.
In Batangas, I’ve tried adobo sa dilaw, so-called because the fresh turmeric gives the dish a yellow hue.
Adobo sa gata has coconut milk thickened to a pasty consistency.
And then there’s the very aromatic adobo sa tanglad where the tanglad (lemongrass) almost obliterates the pungent smell of the vinegar and fish sauce. This chicken adobo with lemongrass has a subtle citrusy aroma.
It’s such a challenge photographing a dish that doesn’t look colorful. With or without soy sauce, adobo looks plain and photos just can’t seem to justify its wonderful flavors and textures. But then again, in food blogging, photos are aids and it is the food that’s important. I never thought that adobo with lemongrass would amount to much until I cooked a pot and was amazed at the results.
Chicken Adobo With Lemongrass
This recipe has been updated from the version originally published in 2009.
Cut the chicken into serving size pieces. Wipe each piece dry with paper towels.
Separate the garlic cloves. Smash each one. Optionally, you make shake off and discard the skins.
Cut off the dark green portion of the lemongrass stalks and discard. Take the light colored portion, peel off and discard the outer skin. Lightly pound the peeled stalks.
Lightly crush the peppercorns.
Place the chicken, skin side down, garlic, lemongrass, peppercorns and bay leaves in a wide thick-bottomed pan.
Pour in the vinegar. Bring to the boil and cook until the liquid has reduced to half.
Turn the chicken pieces over and continue cooking until the mixture is almost dry.
In the rendered fat, fry the chicken until lightly browned.
Pour in about four tablespoons of fish sauce and half a cup of water. Bring to a simmer. Lower the heat, cover the pan and let the chicken cook until the sauce has almost dried up, about 40 minutes. If the sauce dries up before the chicken is cooked through, add more water, no more than a quarter cup at a time.
To serve, arrange the chicken adobo on a platter. Drizzle the contents of the pan over them. Garnish the chicken adobo with lemongrass with toasted garlic bits before serving. Best with rice.
For even better flavor, cool the chicken adobo with lemongrass and chill overnight in the fridge. Reheat gently.