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Adobo Inspired Chicken

Adobo-Inspired Chicken Braised in Dark Soy Sauce

Renée Robinson

After Marinating Overnight, This Comes together in No Time.

I’m a fan of all kinds of adobos. There are many many recipes for chicken adobo. While there is nothing authentic about this one, it simply happens to be a mix of flavors I love from several different cuisines. For instance, I use cane vinegar, dark soy sauce and makrut lime leaves. Add freshly grated turmeric to that. And a whole head of smashed garlic cloves. See what I mean? I’m all over the place with this one, but again, it’s inspired by the inherent adobo combination of vinegar and other flavors. 

Marinating Chicken for Adobo
Chicken in Marinade

It’s also simple. Marinate chicken thighs overnight. The next day, cook up some sliced onions in a big pot or Dutch oven, add the chicken and its marinade, simmer for around 30 minutes. Remove the chicken, reduce the sauce, spoon some over the chicken and put it under the broiler. Done. 

You’ll notice I add a couple tablespoons of fruit jam to the marinade as it’s reducing. I used mango jam because that’s what I had on hand, but any fruit jam would work here. You won’t be able to discern it in the finished sauce. The sauce is not sweet, but it rounded out the harshness of the vinegar and balanced the flavors. 

Sliced scallions added a nice touch of fresh flavor to the finished chicken. Spoon some of that sauce over your chicken and possibly over the rice you’ll serve with this. Yes, rice is essential here. I can’t imagine eating this without white rice sitting next to it on my plate. Rice is the perfect accompaniment to the deeply and brightly flavored chicken. I don’t have a chicken recipe I love more than this one. I hope you’ll give it a try and let me know what you think.

Adobo-Inspired Chicken Braised in Dark Soy Sauce

Recipe by Renée Robinson



If you let your chicken thighs marinate overnight in in dark soy sauce, garlic, cane vinegar and seasonings, you are guaranteed a richly flavored adobo the next day. It's out of this world delicious.

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  • 1 1/4 cups cane vinegar

  • 3/4 cup dark soy sauce

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1 whole head of garlic, cloves peeled and smashed

  • 3 bay leaves

  • 4 inch piece fresh turmeric, peeled and finely grated, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried turmeric

  • 10 makrut lime leaves, or the shaved peel of 2 fresh limes

  • 2 teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground

  • 4 pounds chicken thighs, skin on, bone in

  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil, such as avocado or canola

  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

  • 2 tablespoons fruit jam, such as mango, peach, apricot or plum

  • 1 bunch scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced

  • White rice of your choice, for serving with the chicken


  • In a large bowl combine the cane vinegar and next 7 ingredients. Stir until combined and add the chicken thighs. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • In a large pot or Dutch oven heat the oil over medium heat. Add the sliced onion and cook until just beginning to brown - about 10 minutes. Add the chicken and all the marinade to the pot. Once the liquid begins to simmer, cook the chicken gently for 25 minutes. Remove the chicken to a sheet pan and skim the fat from the liquid in the pot. Add the fruit jam to the pot and over medium heat reduce the sauce by a half to three quarters. You want it to start getting syrupy. This takes about 15 minutes or so.
  • Turn on the broiler. Spoon a little sauce over each piece of chicken and place under the broiler, about 6 to 8 inches from the coil and broil for a few minutes until the top of the chicken has crisped, being careful not to let it burn.
  • Remove the chicken to a platter and scatter the sliced scallions over the top. Serve with the rice and pass the sauce separately. Enjoy!

17 Responses

  1. Renee, while you call this recipe an “inspired” version of Chicken Adobo, there was no denying its satisfyingly savory, spicy, and slightly sweet taste. I loved the reddish-brown coloring of the chicken, created after 2-3 minutes under the broiler.

    Can you say, “winner, winner, chicken dinner?!”

    1. Yes, I most certainly can, Sherman!! I’m so happy you enjoyed it, too. And your photo is just lovely. Thank you!

  2. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of cane vinegar. Can you tell me more? And dark soy sauce??

    1. Hi, Karen! Cane vinegar is used extensively throughout the Philippines. It’s made from sugar cane, but is not sweet. It’s a mild white vinegar. If you can’t find it, you can substitute rice vinegar. Dark soy sauce is darker and richer than normal soy sauce. It’s also a little thicker and can be found at any Asian market and even some supermarkets now carry it. Of course, you can easily find both cane vinegar and dark soy sauce online at Amazon and elsewhere. Hope this answers your questions!

  3. Finally made this! I had to compromise with skinless, boneless thighs (I know, I know – but Carl will not eat anything with bones in it. Sigh), powdered tumeric instead of fresh and lime zest instead of leaves. I also had to use rice vinegar rather than cane (and added the juice of the limes to make up the quantities). Didn’t matter, it was delicious. As I had no skin to crisp and glaze in the oven, I cooked the chicken and marinade in a shallow enamelled steel casserole with the lid off in the oven. The maillard reaction did the rest. Served over steamed jasmine rice it was the bomb and my sister’s friend went home with the recipe.

    1. Yay!!!!!!! I’m thrilled to hear this, Elizabeth!!! So happy you liked it. And all of your choices sound spot on to me. But I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on Carl’s aversion to bones. What???!!!?!?!!

  4. Renee, I recently added this recipe to my “must make soon” list. Since I would be marinating the chicken overnight, what do you think about using chicken breasts in place of thighs?

    1. Sherman, I’m afraid chicken breasts would dry out in this recipe. I really wouldn’t recommend using them here.

  5. Well I finally got my act together and made this fabulous dish. Did we love it? Let’s put it this way – our bowls were scraped clean. Thank you, Renee for this delicious recipe that I know I will make often.

    1. Isn’t this beautiful?? Sherie, I couldn’t be more happy to hear you liked this one, too. Thank you so much!

  6. I made this tonight and it was a huge hit. And SO easy. I substituted with rice vinegar and turmeric powder, and I can’t imagine that it could be much better. I used homemade peach preserves as the sweet aspect. Just perfect.

    1. I’m thrilled that you liked it!! And yes, those peach preserves would be perfect here. Thank you, Lyn!!

    2. Here’s a picture of what I made last night. So yummy and not the same old thing. And SO easy! I love easy on a weeknight.

      1. Oh, Lyn, that looks sensational!! And isn’t it perfect served with plain white rice? So happy you loved it, too!

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