Some things happened this week, totally unrelated at first, but in the end by coincidence, tied to my scheduled recipe of CRISPY ADOBO FLAKES. The first, a superb piece on Philippine adobo in the NY Times by highly respected Food Editor Sam Sifton : “The Cheat: The Adobo Experiment“. In his first paragraph to describe this Asian comfort food, Mr. Sifton likened the Philippines as a “nation slightly larger than the state of Arizona.”
While I felt proud to be a Filipino, alongside with other “kababayans”(fellow countrymen), that our national dish had finally arrived, I said a prayer for the Arizona families. I had cooked adobo last week while my sons were home to visit. When they were little, I tried to be creative and recreated CRISPY ADOBO FLAKES, something we often ordered at a famous restaurant in Makati city. This always elicited excitement when served at our dinners over steaming white jasmine rice. The crisp, light flakes are just heavenly because they crackle & crunch at each bite.. A warning: make a lot, they are addictive.
How to make CRISPY ADODO FLAKES :
First, make CHICKEN ADOBO
* Inspired by my Mom’s cooking when I was growing up
1 cup vinegar, I use Heinz cider vinegar for best results
1 head garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2-3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 cup soy sauce ( I use Philippine brands like “Silver Swan”, available in Asian groceries)
1 pound chicken, cut up
2 cups water + 1 chicken bouillon cube
Vegetable oil for frying
- Combine vinegar, garlic, peppers, bay leaves, salt, soy sauce. Add this over the chicken pieces in a pan.
- Add the water with bouillon cube, and simmer for about 55 minutes or till chicken is tender and broth has reduced a bit.
- When done, either serve hot with steamed rice, or if crispy adobo flakes are planned, then set aside for a day and let flavors set.
CRISPY ADOBO FLAKES
- Remove chicken adobo pieces from the broth. Set the sauce aside for later.
- Debone and flake the chicken into tiny pieces. Blot this on paper towels.
- Heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Allow oil to get really hot, but avoid burning it.
- In little batches, by spoonfuls, add the adobo flakes to deep-fry. Turn the flakes around to avoid burning and evenly cook crisp.
- Try not to overcrowd skillet. Deep fry a few batches at a time to achieve crispness.
- When done, blot crispy flakes on paper towels for a few minutes before serving.
COOK’S COMMENTS: These flakes become crispy if the oil is the right temperature and frying is done is small batches. Overcrowding the skillet will make the cooking oil become cooler, thus affecting the crispy outcome.
This adobo recipe is what I learned from my Mom years ago, when I was a young girl learning how to cook the first time. I believe she was inspired by the recipe from the cookbook ” Let’s Cook with Nora” by Nora Daza.
On occasion, I also resort to one of the best adobo recipes there is, from the cookbook “MEMORIES OF PHILIPPINE KITCHENS” by Amy Besa & Romy Dorotan, owners of Purple Yam Restaurant in Brooklyn. (See page 38 of their cookbook for the recipe of “Chicken Adobo”). It is their terrific recipe which Mr. Sam Sifton of the NY Times refers to in his article.
Crispy adobo flakes are simple to make and simply the best, most reassuring comfort food ever, on these cold winter days and trying events of days past.