Traditional Filipino Recipes

Cook the World Project – Recipe 4: The Philippines

Filipino Adobo Chicken Recipe

This is our fourth post, as my eight-year old daughter and I continue our journey to cook our way around the world.

Approximately once a week, Grace will pick a country and we’ll research the food of that nation and pick a traditional dish that we want to try. We’ll shop and cook together, and maybe even work in a side trip to an ethnic market or food-truck, once in a while.

We’ll post our processes, notes, and maybe a brief anecdote, but mostly it’s going to be about the recipes.

Last time, we visited Russia and tried the amazing (and amazingly filling) Chicken Kotletki.

6This week, Gracie stayed on the east side of the map and chose… The Philippines! Now, I have a lot of friends, and even a few family members who are Filipino, so I was pretty excited about this week.

A mixed cuisine of Malay, Spanish, Chinese, and American, Philippine cuisine has many outside influences adapted to indigenous ingredients and the local palate.

In 3200 BCE, Austronesians from the southern China Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau and Taiwan settled in the region that is now called the Philippines. They brought with them knowledge of rice cultivation and other farming practices which increased the number and variety of edible dish ingredients available for cooking.

Trade with the various neighboring kingdoms brought with it foods and cooking methods which are still commonly used in the Philippines today, such as Bagoong, Patis, Rendang, and the infusion of coconut milk in condiments. Through this trade, cuisine from as far away as India and Arabia enriched the palettes of the local Austronesians.

Spanish colonizers and friars in the 16th century brought with them produce from the Americas like chili peppers, tomatoes, corn, potatoes, and the method of sauteing with garlic and onions. Spanish and Mexican dishes were eventually incorporated into Philippine cuisine with the more complex dishes usually being prepared for special occasions.

Today, Philippine cuisine continues to evolve as new techniques, styles of cooking, and ingredients find their way into the country. [Wikipedia] Another common feature in Philippine cuisine comes in the a pairing of something sweet with something salty (such as our chicken and rice dishes, below), and results in surprisingly pleasing combinations. Vinegar is a common ingredient, as well.

MapThings we learned about The Philippines:

  • Cooking and eating in the Philippines has traditionally been an informal and communal affair centered around the family kitchen.
  • Filipinos traditionally eat three main meals a day: agahan (breakfast), tanghalían (lunch), and hapunan (dinner) plus an afternoon snack called meriénda.
  • Food tends to be served all at once and not in courses.
  • Unlike many of their Asian counterparts Filipinos do not eat with chopsticks. Due to Western influence, food is often eaten using flatware—forks, & knives.


After much deliberation, we settled on Filipino Adobo Chicken, Biko (sweet coconut rice), and Ginisang Sitaw (savory green beans) for dinner. Let me tell you, it was a HUGE hit!

Adobo is one of the most popular Filipino dishes and is considered unofficially by many as the national dish. It usually consists of pork or chicken, sometimes both, stewed or braised in a sauce usually made from vinegar, cooking oil, garlic, bay leaf, peppercorns, and soy sauce. Adobo is popular not solely for its simplicity and ease of preparation, but also for its ability to be stored for days without spoiling, and even improve in flavor with a day or two of storage.

Chicken Adobo Recipe

PREP TIME : 15 minutes (+ 8 hours to marinade)
TOTAL TIME : 60 minutes

2 lbs bone-in chicken thighs
3 dried bay leaves
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp vinegar
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 to 2 cups water
1/4 cup cooking oil
1/2 tablespoon white sugar
salt and whole peppercorn

Filipino Adobo Chicken Recipe

In a large container, combine the soy sauce and garlic then marinade the chicken for 5-8 hours

Place the cooking oil in a pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot enough, add the marinated chicken (drained), and cook it on all the sides for about 5 minutes, until nicely browned.

Pour-in the remaining marinade, add water, and bring to a boil

Add the bay leaves and peppercorns, and simmer until the chicken is tender (about 30 minutes). Add the vinegar, stir, and cook for 10 minutes. Add the sugar and salt. De-bone and chop the chicken (optional).

Stir and serve.

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PREP TIME : 5 minutes TOTAL TIME : 45 minutes

  • 2 cups sticky rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 2 cups brown sugar

Wash the rice, set in a pot and add the water. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to simmer until the liquid is fully absorbed by the rice (it should be a little under-cooked). In another pan over medium heat, dissolve the brown sugar in the coconut milk.

Filipino Biko Recipe

Let it simmer until thick, then add the cooked rice and mix until it all reaches a very thick consistency.

Filipino Biko Recipe

Spread the sticky sweet rice and flatten evenly. Keep warm in a low oven until ready to serve. Cut in squares and serve.

Filipino Biko Recipe

Ginisang Sitaw RecipeGinisang Sitaw Recipe

PREP TIME : 5 minutes TOTAL TIME : 30 minutes

  • 1 bunch string beans; trimmed
  • 1 medium tomato, cubed
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil

Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the garlic, onion, and tomato. Add the fish sauce, sprinkle the ground black pepper, and stir.

Add the string beans and stir gently. Cover and cook on medium-low for 10 minutes.

Stir to distribute the ingredients, and serve.

Ginisang Sitaw Recipe