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Chicken Adobo with Coconut Milk

Chicken Adobo with Coconut Milk

It’s 2019, babies! Mine is off to a rocky start and I am feeling a bit sorry for myself - I finally had to go get a minor surgery done that I had been putting off. I am on the up and up but it is getting in the way of me doing too much by myself, including cooking. My husband has been fantastic and helping me with pretty much everything, since the procedure was on my right arm and my range of movement is limited for the time being. After too many takeout meals, we were trying to think of easy enough meals that I could walk him through and we landed on this chicken adobo recipe from America’s Test Kitchen. It’s unbelievably easy and low-maintenance and tastes fantastic.

Adobo is one of, if not the most, popular Filipino dish. It’s usually pork or chicken braised in a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, and a whole lot of garlic. While the Philippines have been colonized by many groups over time, this dish is native to the country, dating back to the 17th century. Vinegar was used to preserve the meat over longer periods of time in the hot, tropical climate, similar to the pork vindaloo.

Most of the adobo you’ll find in American restaurants do not feature coconut milk but this recipe with coconut milk is one of the many regional variations. It has a good amount of vinegar and I find that the coconut milk is almost necessary for my palate - it balances out the sourness with some fat and sweetness. I can’t have things with coconut milk with anything other than Jasmine rice - I highly recommend you do the same. I’ve cooked this both with light and regular coconut milk - it is so much better with regular coconut milk. Things with more fat generally taste better than things with less fat and in this case, the difference is truly noticeable. The sauce is thicker and more luscious (sorry for my male-gaze, sauce) but if you are watching what you eat and using the light coconut milk, just cook it a little bit longer to thicken up the sauce.

Serves 3-4


  • 6-8 chicken thighs

  • 1 tsp olive oil

  • 1/3 cup light soy sauce

  • 1 can coconut milk

  • 3/4 apple cider vinegar

  • 2 tsp ground black pepper

  • 2-3 bay leaves

  • 6-8 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 1 green onion, white and green parts separated

  • salt to taste


Mix the chicken thigh and soy sauce in a mixing bowl well and marinate for 30 mins to an hour in the refrigerator.

Once you’re ready to cook, heat up a pan with the olive oil on medium heat. Once heated, shake the excess soy sauce marinade off of each piece of chicken and brown in the pan for 7-8 mins on one side and 2-3 mins on the other.

While the chicken browns, take the remaining soy sauce and add the coconut milk, vinegar, black pepper, and crushed garlic. Mix well and pour over the browning chicken. Tuck the bay leaves into the pan. Take the whites of the green onion and roughly chop them and add them to the pot. Cook uncovered, still on medium heat, for 15 mins. Then turn the pieces of chicken over and cook for an additional 15 mins. (If you’re using bone-in thighs, cook each side for an additional 5 mins). Add some salt to taste and mix well.

Once you’re ready to serve, finely slice the greens of the green onion and garnish. Serve with Jasmine rice and some roasted vegetables or sauteed greens.

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