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The first thought that comes to mind when I hear the word adobo is the delicious Mexican stew of meat cooked in wine. Adobo, however, is not specific to Mexico. Filipinos have a dish by the same name, although it is most often referred to by its (possibly adapted) name, adobong. While Filipino food has been largely influenced by Spanish, Spanish colonial, and, to a lesser extent, Chinese cooking cultures, Filipino cooks believe that adobong originated with them. Arguably the national dish of the Philippines, adobong also refers to the entire style of cooking in vinegar and is made with seafood and vegetables as well as meat. Regardless of the specific national origin of the technique, adobong cooking probably had its roots in necessity. Cooking in vinegar is a way of preserving food because it inhibits bacterial growth, allowing food to be stored at room temperature.
Peeling the garlic and ginger cloves is optional.
Variation: You can make this with a whole 2 1/2 pound chicken. This is what I call “family style” adobong. Remove the legs from the chicken, and split them at the joint. Chop the drumsticks and thighs in half through the bone. (Use a cleaver to do this, but if you are uncomfortable using a cleaver for chopping, slice the pieces in half lengthwise so some of the halves retain the bone, while the others are bone-free.) Separate the back from the breast side of the chicken. Use kitchen shears or a cleaver. Quarter the backbone. Separate the wings from the breast at the joint, and discard the tips. Halve the breast through the bone, then quarter each half through the bone crosswise. Enjoy, but be very careful of the small bones.
Beverage pairing: Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat, USA. The fact that the chicken is cooked in vinegar makes the dish a challenge with wine, since acetic acid (vinegar) is something winemakers stringently avoid. The hint of acetic, however, tastes great with a spicy, bright, citric wheat beer such as this one from Wisconsin.
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