I have been intending to write about this for a long time. Not only because I am a fan of adobo, but thinking that it would help in a way those who are in the same situation.
(1) Adobong Puti (Stewed Pork and Chicken in White Vinegar) got its name from the white vinegar that it uses. However, the appearance of the dish is brown because of the frying. It is claimed that this is the classic version since it highlights the basic adobo flavors such as vinegar, garlic and peppercorns, and excludes soy sauce which outweighs the rest of the flavors.
If you will be living outside the country, would be living on your own, will be mandated to know by heart to prepare one dish, or at least because you are a Filipino, I think that it is necessary that you know how to cook adobo. While it is not officially declared as our national dish, it is often associated with Filipinos. I am particularly speaking for those based overseas, it would be very embarrassing when non-Filipino colleagues or whenever the situation would call for it that you must prepare an adobo, and you can not. Of course, simple googling and an overseas call probably to a family member (because each family has its very own adobo) would help, but believe me, if you still have the time, do not think twice to perfect it.
While it is improbable, if you are going to master only one dish in your lifetime, go for this. If you do, you will successfully please everyone even with an adobo week because of the several variations.
(2) Adobo sa Gata (Stewed Chicken in Vinegar and Coconut Cream) uses gata (coconut milk) which is most popular in Bicol.
Adobo is derived from the French adouber which originally means to dress a knight in armor and eventually meant to arrange, to construct, to tan leather, and to dress foods. During the Spanish colonization, adobar was introduced in the Philippines using the local vinegar instead of grave vine as used in their home country. [The Governor's General Kitchen, p. 43]
“… the Spanish and Mexicans saw the dish the Filipinos were already cooking, recognized its similarity to theirs, and called it adobo de los naturales which are the words used by dictionary maker Pedro de San Buenaventura (1613)…”
(3) Adobong Baka (Braised Beef in Vinegar) is the least common. On a personal note, I am not a fan of beef.
(4) Adobong Kangkong (Braised Water Spinach) is a version of the Ilonggo apan apan adobado. What differentiates it is the sprinkling of tulapa (bits of pork fat made up of oil) which is normally sold by bakeries which use pork lard to make Spanish cookies such as hojaldres, kinamoncil and banadas.
(5) Adobong Malutong (Crisp Adobo Flakes) can be made from left over chicken pork adobo or right after cooling down from its first cooking. It has a long shelf life, especially when refrigerated on a sealed container. This can be paired with kare-kare, sinangag or as a topping for lugaw (rice porridge).
(6) Adobong Manok at Baboy (Stewed Pork and Chicken in Vinegar and Soy Sauce) is popularly known as the standard version of adobo. The soy sauce gives it a dark color and salty flavor. This is my favorite among the versions and I normally put a little sugar in it. I also find it better the day after it is re-heated.
(7) Adobong Pusit (Stewed Squid) can be cooked with or without the ink sacs. I prefer it without the ink and with a decent amount of Sprite or 7-up in it.
(8) Adobong Puso ng Saging (Banana Flower Sauteed in White Vinegar) is also known as pancit puso (heart noodles) because the banana flower resembles the shape of a heart. The puso ng saging (banana flower) is used as a souring agent instead of calamansi.
Of course, I did not understand these many faces of adobo until I got this very reliable and helpful cookbook in 2008 (the delicious photos above were snapped from the recipe book’s pages), from one of the authors himself. It made wonders in my life in the kitchen, makes me, people joining me on the dining table /guests happier, and makes us put on weight (hahaha). I promise to write about it on my next entry.