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Cooking A to Z: Adobo

Adobo [ah-DOH-bo]–This sauce is of Mexican origin and is made with chilies, herbs and vinegar. It is also a dried seasoning or rub made mostly of garlic and spices.

You can purchase adobo seasoning or sauce. I use adobo (the seasoning) mostly on roast chicken and pork chops as a rub. I use adobo sauce with rice or as a marinade for meat. However, living in a community that is 99% Hispanic I can tell you that in Latino cooking, adobo is as common place as ketchup, salt or pepper. My best friend puts adobo in everything: tuna fish salad, spaghetti. . .you name it.

Adobo Seasoning

If you’re adventurous and want to try to make adobo paste as a rub for pork chops or chicken you can try this recipe. I got it from a grandmotherly Puerto Rican lady who didn’t give me ‘standard’ measurements. I played with it until it tasted right to my gringo pallet and here’s what I came up with:

4 cloves garlic

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp peppercorns

1/2 tsp paprika

1 tsp salt

½ tsp cumin

Take all the ingredients and grind them together in a mortar and pestle to make a paste. Just in case you forgot to pick up a mortar and pestle at your local chef’s shop, you can use a spoon and bowl and despite what I’ve been told, it works just fine. (Then again, I’m not Latina so what do I know?)

Adobo Sauce

Adobo sauce on the other hand, is made of finely chopped or pureed chipotle chilies, garlic, vinegar, and often onions or tomatoes. To make your own adobo sauce combine 3 cups of water in a pan with: 10 whole chipotle peppers, 1/3 cup of diced onion, 5 tbsp of cider vinegar, 2 cloves of garlic, 4 tbsp of tomato sauce, ¼ tsp cumin, ½ tsp oregano and ½ tsp salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1-2 hours until the chilies are soft and the liquid is reduced to about a cup. Then put it in a blender and puree for a nice consistency. Adobo sauce can be stored in a Tupperware type container for several weeks in the fridge.
So now the recipe begs the question, just what exactly do you use adobo sauce for? Use it with rice, or as a marinade for chicken. Some people use it as a sauce for wings. We use it as a marinade for pot roast when we’re in the mood for something different. You can also add it to soups. Think of it as Tabasco sauce with a little less kick and a little less kick and a little more flavor!

I also found out that adobo is a common Filipino dish usually made with pork or chicken with similar ingredients.

Here are some recipes that I found on the Families.com site that would be good with adobo seasoning or sauce:

Rice and Steak Burritos

Mexican Stuffed Peppers


Tostadas: A Great Mexican Treat!