History of Philippines’ Unofficial National Dish: Where did Adobo Originated from?


 Adobo is known to so many Filipinos that even how it is being cooked varies by region but we never correct each other. You cannot cook Adobo without adding vinegar and soy sauce to whatever added spice you like in your marinated protein dish. 


However, it’s always a long discussion about where it originated from. Some people say the Spaniards brought the recipe to the country but a matter of this fact is that Filipinos were already cooking adobo way before they came according to Spanish Culinary Scientist, Borja Sanchez.


When talking about adobo, everyone will probably mention Pedro de San Buenaventura, a Spanish Friar who wrote the book, ‘Vocabulario de la Lengua Tagala’ in 1613. He was the first one to mention adobo as we call this famous dish today. In fact,  while he was observing the native Filipinos back in the 16th century, he saw that what we Filipinos call Kilaw (or kinilaw),  is referred to as ‘adobo de los naturales’ or adobo of the native people. 


Adobo is actually derived from the Spanish word ‘adobar’ which means ‘to marinate’ as the Friar saw what the Native Filipinos did back then, it stuck with us. 


We mentioned earlier that the first ‘adobo’ was actually ‘kilaw’, well back then before the Chinese introduced to us soy sauce, the Filipinos in the Pre-Colonial period do their adobo with vinegar as it is a way to preserve most of the meats and foods back then.  Soy sauce was added to the recipe when the Chinese introduced it to us. 


Today, Filipinos love to cook their adobo in different ways. In some regions, people cook adobo without soy sauce and call it adobong puti. Another region cooks it until the sauce dries up but some like it more if there was more sarsa on the casserole. 


Many varieties of how it is cooked and what kind of meat or sometimes vegetable is added. Adobo has a lot of history. You can’t deny how it is called the Philippines’ Unofficial National dish.



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