What is the origin of Adobo?

In the past, the Philippines has been colonized by different countries. That is why some of their culture and tradition are somewhat hard to ascertain. But there is something the Filipinos would be proud to tell to the world, their delicacy called Adobo.

The Adobo today has reached different versions because of the Philippines’ diversified culture. Nonetheless, it is still called Adobo for them. What is the origin of Adobo?

The Malays, who first inhabited the Philippines according to their history books, have their way of preserving food through marinating meat with vinegar and salt. This process will keep the meat safe to eat for a longer time, putting it in a jar then letting it soak on damp soil. Filipinos had long discovered how to make their vinegar or suka and salt marinade even before traders from different countries arrived.

When the Chinese traders arrived in the Philippines, they introduced soy sauce or toyo in the Philippines. Since then, Filipinos have embraced some Chinese goods, like when they start to use soy sauce and salt in the kitchen alternately. And now, soy sauce has become one of the key ingredients in preparing Adobo.

When the Spaniards arrived and knew how Filipinos marinate their meat with the ingredients mentioned earlier, they called it “adobar” which means marinade or sauce. Mentioned in some early books written in the Spanish era, they called it “Adobo de los Naturales” or Adobo of the Natives.

Adobo is usually made of meat (pork, chicken, and the like) braised in vinegar, soy sauce and then spiced with garlic and peppercorns.

As Adobo ages through time, its versions have developed into using seafood as its main ingredient. Another one is incorporating coconut milk into Adobo, emphasizing its taste with creaminess. The versions of different regions are endless, which includes additional spices, herbs, and vegetables.