This last weekend has been all about cooking chicken. It might be because I didn’t feel like eating Korean food, or maybe because I don’t want to eat outside as much after eating out for 10 days in a row, or maybe I’m getting concerned about MERS in Korea.
Either way, I invited my friend Leian from the Philippines to come over and cook chicken adobo together. Some months ago, she had invited me to eat at her place, and I found the chicken to be so amazingly delicious that I asked her for the recipe. As it usually happens with family recipes, she told me the ingredients but had no clue about the measurements! So as you can predict, my chicken adobo came out completely different (edible, but not far as good). Besides the ingredients measurements, that are different on almost every recipe I read online, I was also missing the coconut milk, which turned out to be quite a key ingredient.
When I was in the States, I saw in the Chinese supermarket 168 a lot of coconut milk powder for 89c., and remembering my failure chicken adobo, I grabbed 6 or 7. Then, once in Korea, I called my friend Leian and told her I had coconut milk and it was about time we met and she taught me her recipe. And she agreed to share! You guys are lucky~~
YOU WILL NEED:
- For the meat:
- Chicken in pieces, with skin and bones. (or if you only like certain part, that part).
- 1 medium~big onion
- 1 small piece of ginger
- 3 green chilli for a mild spicy taste. This amy vary depending on your chilli. For non spicy, just don’t add any.
- Minced garlic (optional, I didn’t use it!)
- Some spoons of salt to wash the chicken
- For the sauce:
- Soy sauce: 3tbsp (preferably an Asian one lower in sodium)
- Vinegar: 2tbsp
- Worcestershire sauce: 3 tbsp *Tip: if you don’t have this sauce, just add 6 tbsp of soy sauce with 2 tbsp of vinegar. The ratio is supposed to be 1:3 vinegar:soy, but we added the Worcestershire because it has some sweet hint, making it less salty taste.*
- 2 bay leaves
- Coconut milk (or coconut milk powder mixed with warm water) *I thought this one didn’t matter too much, but it does. The sauce changes color completely after adding the coconut milk, and gets thicker too!*
UTENSILS YOU SHOULD USE:
- Large wok (deep) with lid and a spatula
- Chopping board and good knife
- A big bowl to wash and store the chicken
- Some bowls and plates to store the other ingredients
- A measuring cup
DIRECTIONS (preparing the ingredients):
- In a big serving bowl, wash the chicken with water and rub salt on each of the pieces. This process is used to take out the “xian” or inner flavor of the chicken, so it has a softer taste. Once done with every piece, wash off most of the salt with water. *Leian struggled explaining this to me in English, despite her perfect dominance of the language, but I understood it when she explained because we have a word for this in Chinese. I also couldn’t come up with the word in English, so we decided you guys don’t have it. In Chinese it’s 鲜 (xian1), and it means that a meat has “a lot of a very unique taste”. This is used mostly for fish and lamb (if you know Chinese, this character is composed by the fish and lamb characters)*
- Add stuff to the chicken:
- Sprinkle pepper on the chicken.
- Peel and chop the onion in small dices and add half of it to the chicken bowl.
- Peel the ginger and crash it to get the flavor out. Add to the chicken bowl.
- If you are using minced garlic too, add it now.
- Prepare the sauce! 1:3 vinegar:soy sauce. We used 2 tbsp of vinegar, and instead of 6tbsp of soy sauce, we did half soy sauce and half Worcestershire sauce so it wouldn’t come out too salty. Add 2 bay leaves (or more) to the sauce
- If you’re using coconut milk powder, prepare it by mixing with water. I did 1,5 cup of water, but follow your package’s recipe.
- Chop some green chili into smaller pieces and take off the head.
- Heat some oil in the wok and cook the other half of the onion (we already put half of it on top of the chicken mix) until it becomes transparent. Add the chicken (with all the mix of ingredients we put on top before). If the chicken produced a lot of liquid, don’t add it to the wok, toss it! *Some recipes marinate the chicken with the sauce first and leave it in the fridge for an hour for the chicken to catch the flavor. Leian’s recipe doesn’t do this because she prefers to sautéed the chicken rather than boil it*
- We cooked the chicken on medium fire it for quite long because we had a lot of chicken (1,3kg). Overall, just cook it until it’s not pink anymore, use the lid. Stir and move the chicken so everything gets cooked. If too much water comes out of the chicken, you can toss some of it, but don’t toss all. All the flavor is in there!
- When the chicken is ready, add the sauce we mixed. Cook together for some time until the chicken absorbs the sauce.
- When the chicken seems ready (more or less like in the picture), slow down the fire.
- Take the chicken out from the wok. Only the chicken. We still need to add the coconut milk into the sauce! This will change the color to a more brownish one, give some hint flavor, and also make the sauce less watery. We had a lot of milk (1,5 cup) but only used about half. Add little by little and check the taste, I guess ^^ Add the spicy chiles here too!
- Put the chicken back in the wok with the new sauce and let it sit for a couple more minutes. Then turn off the fire but leave the lid on the food for a couple more minutes. Serve warm with rice or mashed potatoes and enjoy!
And since Leian is so nice, not only she showed us how to prepare the chicken adobo, she also brought dessert! Brownies for the chocolate fanatic Mimi and “Majablanca”, a filipino dessert made primarily from coconut milk and with pudding texture. Both were great and, as I write, I am still eating some of her yummy brownies.
After eating, Leian, Chris, Vic and I played what must be one of the longest Catan games ever. Great evening, indeed. Can’t wait to have more cooking sessions!