There are three completely different things that are referred to as adobo. There is adobo seasoning, adobo sauce and adobo (a dish renowned in the Philippines). This has caused a bit of confusion among American cooks. While I am most familiar with the seasoning, let’s take a look at all three of them and try to clear up the mystery of which is what.
Adobo seasoning is a Latino spice mixture used in various countries including Mexico. There can be several different combinations of spices that make up adobo seasoning. But, most will contain salt, garlic, Mexican oregano, and black pepper. Some other ingredients that might be found are onion, cumin, and cayenne pepper.
Adobo seasoning is flavorful and can be mild or hot. Add 1/2 teaspoon per pound for chicken, beef, pork chops, ribs or cutlets, burritos, or to spice up a bland salsa. If you make your own guacamole, adobo will take it to a new level! Some of the many other uses for adobo are as a rub on meats prior to grilling or frying or in taco meat mixtures. These spices are also the perfect seasoning for all your poultry and fish dishes, as well as, bean dishes.
Adobo sauce is a tart and rather sour sauce made of ground chilis, herbs, and vinegar. Most recipes that call for adobo sauce ask for it with chipotles as the chili pepper. Just to add to the confusion, adobo sauce is Latino as well. It is also used fairly extensively in the Southwest as a marinade for meat dishes.
Adobo is a specialty dish from the Philippines that is made with chicken or pork simmered in a mixture of garlic, vinegar and soy sauce. Inside the Philippines the most common meat is pork.
Some in the culinary world think that perhaps adobo made its way in many forms in Mexico, the Caribbean, and, with the same name but different flavors, in the Philippines.
So the next time you hear someone mention adobo you can ask them which variation they are talking about. You will be the expert. I would suggest you try them all. They are each very good.
Crusted Tilapia with Adobo Seasoning
Filipino Pork Adobo