Chicken adobo for Ava

I’m fiercely proud of my niece – she’s bright, sharp, moody, clever, vibrant, charming and engaging. I would say that because I’m her uncle, and being a thoughtful uncle I’ve not posted a picture of her on here – at that age privacy and image should be in her control, not mine. She comes from a longline of strong, often notorious, women and that is played out in her approach to the world around her – she’s fearless.

I associate this dish with her as it’s the staple I make when I trek down to the moor to visit my sister – it’s easy to knock up in around an hour and is an instant crowd pleaser which makes it ideal after a long journey from the capital.

Adobo is a Philippine dish and the various recipes I’ve seen often don’t have coconut cream so the below isn’t traditional – more so with the inclusion of the pink peppercorns. I’ve added those to add crunch and a whiff of colour. The end result is salty, tangy and creamy and also keeps for days and is as tasty on day three as it is on day one.

Music to listen to while preparing this dish: ‘The Circle Game’ the Buffy Sainte-Marie version


  • 12 chicken thighs, skinless, boneless
  • 15 cloves garlic roughly chopped or 1 heaped tablespoon of smoked garlic purée
  • 1tsp pink peppercorns (optional
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 250ml coconut cream
  • 125ml light soy sauce
  • 125ml white wine vinegar
  • Oil for frying 
  • 2 tbsps dried herbs – I went for Italian


  1. This is a one-pan meal, so cover your chicken in the dry herbs in fry-off and brown your fillets in a pan with the oil. You may need to do this in batches.
  2. Once browned, remove from the pan and in the hot pan fry off the garlic for about 3 mins
  3. Add the chicken fillets back in the pan, seam-side down, and add the coconut cream, soy sauce, peppercorns, bay leaves and vinegar and mix together by moving around the fillets.
  4. Cover and simmer for 30mins, after which time, flip the fillets over so the tops get some time in the sauce.
  5. After 20 mins more, flip again. If your sauce is thick and velvety, it’s ready. If not, another 10 minutes should do it. Basically you want it to reduce to a thick, glossy sauce but not too dry
  6. Serve with rice

You’ll need a silky yet spiky white for this and the wines from Georgia do just the trick, try Sapatio Mtsvane 2021, that should do the trick.

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