There is a contest on the Asian Food Channel called Food Hero and, in 2016, Filipino chef Anton Amoncio won the title. I never did get to see the show. However, I saw the teasers several times and I heard Mr. Amoncio mention “fried chicken adobo” each time.
The idea of frying chicken adobo is not new. Some cooks fry the chicken before simmering in adobo sauce. But the idea of serving chicken adobo as a fried chicken dish—without the sauce or with the sauce merely on the side—was new. To me, at least.
The question was what frying technique to use. There is no singular way of cooking fried chicken. The copycat Max’s Restaurant-style fried chicken requires steaming the chicken, cooling it, frying, cooling and frying a second time. Cooking Japanese tebasaki calls for frying the cornstarch-dredged chicken in medium heat and then frying it again with the heat cranked up to high. And then, there’s the American style of dipping the chicken in milk before coating it with flour.
I wondered which style would be best for my fried chicken adobo. In the end, I decided to try two techniques. I cooked some pieces using the Max’s Restaurant style (in the above photo) and then I made a second batch cooked tebasaki-style (below).
I asked Speedy which version he liked better. The lowdown: the chicken drumsticks cooked tebasaki style were more moist but less flavorful. The ones cooked a la Max’s Restaurant retained the seasonings better.
The following recipe is for fried chicken adobo cooked a la Max’s Restaurant.
Let’s make that clear: only the cooking technique is a la Max’s Restaurant. The seasonings are traditional adobo ingredients.
Fried Chicken Adobo
- 600 to 700 grams chicken drumsticks
- 1 head garlic
- 1/4 cup cane vinegar
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon crushed black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 sprig oregano
- 4 cups cooking oil
- Wipe the chicken drumsticks dry and place in a large resealable bag.
- Lightly pound and peel the garlic.
- Pour the vinegar and soy sauce into the resealable bag. Add the garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves and oregano. Seal the bag. Shake a few times to distribute the seasonings. Keep the in the fridge overnight.
- Pour water into a steamer and boil.
- Drain the chicken then arrange in the steamer basket(s) in a single layer.
- Steam the chicken over briskly boiling water for 10 minutes.
- Remove the steamer baskets and cool the steamed chicken.
- Heat the cooking oil in a frying pan.
- Over medium-high heat, fry the cooled steamed chicken adobo just until crisp.
- Serve the fried chicken adobo with rice.