Norman Musa’s Chicken Adobo

Chicken Adobo is one of the most iconic dishes of the Philippines, indeed many Filipinos consider it their national dish. This recipe from Bowlful by Norman Musa creates a delicious sauce for juicy chicken thighs that features soy sauce, vinegar, and crushed black peppercorns. 

Chicken Adobo from Bowlful: Fresh and vibrant dishes from Southeast Asia by Norman Musa

Read our in-depth review of Bowlful by Norman Musa.

Chicken Adobo

As simple as can be, this dish provides a wonderful blend of soy sauce, vinegar and peppery heat from the crushed black peppercorns. Adobo has always been a favourite of mine that I kept asking my Filipino friends in Manchester to cook for me.
When you talk to Pinoys – what people from the Philippines call themselves – and tell them that you love and know how to cook Adobo, their faces light up and they get excited that you are honouring what they consider to be their national dish. The black peppercorns taste even better if you crush them just before cooking.
Servings 4 people
Author Norman Musa


  • 800 g (1lb 12oz) boneless chicken thighs, cut into 4cm (1½ in) cubes
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 100 ml (3½fl oz / scant ½ cup) dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 bay leaves, bruised
  • 1 banana shallot, finely chopped
  • ½ tbsp palm sugar or soft light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
  • 1 spring onion, cut into thin strips and soaked in cold water until curled, then drained
  • rice, to serve


  • In a large bowl, marinate the chicken with the garlic, soy sauce and vinegar for 10 minutes.
  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the bay leaves and stir for 30 seconds to infuse the oil.
  • Next, add the shallot and cook for 3 minutes until golden brown, then stir in the chicken without the marinade, and cook for 3 minutes until the chicken has browned.
  • Next, stir in the marinade, sugar and black pepper, mixing well.
  • Stir in 200ml (7fl oz / scant 1 cup) of water, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Turn the chicken halfway through cooking. After 20 minutes the sauce should have reduced and thickened up.
  • Turn the heat off, divide the chicken adobo between four serving bowls, garnish with the spring onion and serve with rice.

We love saucy dishes so we didn’t reduce the liquid down as much as the recipe calls for, giving us a richly flavoured broth rather than a thick sauce. We loved it!

As with all the recipes we’ve made from the book thus far, this will become a regular in our repertoire.

Chicken Adobo from Bowlful: Fresh and vibrant dishes from Southeast Asia by Norman Musa

Made the recipe? Leave a comment below to let us know how you got on!

You may also enjoy these Filipino recipes. You can also view all South East Asian recipes.


This recipe extract from Bowlful: Fresh and vibrant dishes from Southeast Asia by Norman Musa is reproduced with permission from publishers Pavilion. Home photography by Kavita Favelle.

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