The world has gone entirely mad. Covid-19 is everywhere and there is no end in sight. I don’t need to remind you what is going on so I will comment no further than this on the actions and inactions of some of the world’s leaders, which have undoubtedly caused the deaths of many thousands of people. May those who dithered, or just plain lied, rot in hell.
The lockdowns, or lock-ins as we prefer to call them in Ireland, continue and we are looking at at least another month of restrictions. Many, many people are working harder than ever to keep our hospitals running and the food shops open and well stocked. But most, myself included, are finding themselves with an unprecedented amount of time on their hands and people are going quietly insane trying to deal with the uncertainty of it all.
Apart from doing a bit of gardening and using up whatever paint I can find, I have spent an unhealthy amount of time in front of screens. Playing games, chatting with friends, watching TV and staring at my phone. Amongst all the digital noise I discovered TikTok, the new video sharing app that has taken the world by storm. I have to admit I am quite addicted to it as it appeals to my somewhat voyeuristic nature. It is a window into the lives of ordinary and extraordinary people all over the world. In amongst the pranks, cute animal clips, dancing teenagers and various other ephemera, I have come across quite a few food clips.
The following recipe is one that caught my attention as I had never heard of it before, and it fit my usual criteria of being simple yet delicious. The TikTok clip was heavily edited as it had to be for a short form video, but it listed the ingredients and quickly showed the process. I had to go a-googling. It turns out Chicken Adobo is pretty much the national dish of the Phillipines. There are variations of course but the basics are always the same. Soy sauce, garlic and vinegar are the backbone of this dish. I chose a recipe that included coconut milk as it sounded slightly richer and more to my taste. I wasn’t disappointed. If you are even slightly adventurous as a cook you will probably have most of the ingredients in stock. I am lucky enough to have a bay tree in my garden so I am never short of their fragrant leaves. You can use chicken fillets or suchlike, but I don’t mind dealing with bones and the browned skin and darker meat of chicken thighs adds to the appeal of this dish, not to mention being significantly cheaper.
Give it a go. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
The amounts given here would feed four.
- Around 6 to 8 bone-in chicken thighs or substitute other pieces
- 120 mls or half a cup as the Americans say, of soy sauce
- One 400 ml can of coconut milk
- 120 mls cider or rice vinegar or any you may have
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 heaped teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
- 8 garlic cloves peeled, chopped, minced or whole, as you prefer
- 3 bay leaves
- Some scallions thinly sliced
- A little oil for frying
- White rice to serve
Trim the excess skin off the chicken thighs and marinade in a bowl with the soy sauce for about an hour or as long as you can wait. I tend to puncture the flesh of anything I am marinating to let the flavour seep into the meat.
Remove the chicken from the soy and reserve the liquid.
Place the chicken, skin side down, into a large frying pan and cook on medium high heat until the skin is crisp and golden. While the chicken is browning, mix the coconut milk, vinegar, sugar and pepper into the soy sauce marinade. There is no need to turn the chicken as there is more cooking to come. Remove the browned chicken from the pan, discard the fat and wipe the pan clean with a paper towel.
Now transfer the soy, vinegar, coconut milk mix into the frying pan, throw in the garlic and bay leaves and add the chicken, this time skin side up. Bring the heat up to a gentle boil then lower the temperature and simmer for about 30-40 minutes, depending on the thickness of your chicken pieces. Fish one piece out and check it is cooked through if you are not sure.
When the chicken is cooked through remove it from the pan and set aside, covered with tin foil to keep it warm. Take out the bay leaves if you can find them and skim any fat off the surface of the sauce. Turn the heat up again and cook until the sauce is thickened to your liking, about 5 minutes should do it. Taste the sauce and adjust to your liking, some salt perhaps, or if it is too sharp you could add a little more sugar.
Serve over rice of your choice which you naturally had cooking as your chicken simmered, garnish with the scallions and that’s it.
Ok, there’s a little bit of work involved and this method takes a little time but it is worth it, and sure what else do we have these days but time?
If you don’t like bone in cuts of chicken then by all means use breast fillets but then there is no need to sear the skin, which speeds up the cooking time too, you can even skip the marinating bit if you really want, just fry the chicken and simmer in the other ingredients for about 20 minutes.