Philippine Culinary Identity : Sinigang or Adobo ?

SINIGANG or ADOBO ? Fact is both dishes represents the Philippine islands. Sinigang and Adobo have evolved to so many variations. If there are about 7,107 islands in the Philippines, maybe there are more than 7,000 ways to prepare both dishes, But no matter what Filipinos prefers to be their national dish, both offers endless possibilities–And one should be prepared to salivate!


A sour soup, marked as a Filipino comfort food , a blend of ingredients prepared to its sour perfection, enticing the palate, soothing the nerves, rousing the senses, Sinigang is a soul food – one will feel refreshed and nourished.

Food historians have often commended the virtues of sinigang -as a refreshing, energising, appetite-encouraging food and a perfect match for the  humid  tropical heat of the Philippine islands, according to Wikipedia.  Food writer Doreen Fernandez suggested that its origins are most likely indigenous , the cooking method  is said to be pre-Hispanic, and hence it may be considered the national dish of the Philippines.

Sinigang is a very versatile dish.  There are different versions of sinigang:  beef, pork, chicken, fish and shrimp.  You can also put in a variety of vegetables: sigarillas(winged beans), bataw, eggplant, sitaw (long beans) and the green, leafy vegetable could be kangkong (swamp cabbage), or mustasa (mustard greens) . And for the souring agent, you can use tamarind, kamias, green mango, lime, vinegar, guava etc.. It’s the perfect dish for the rainy season….warm and satisfying.


(milkfish in tamarind broth)


1                  Bangus (milkfish),medium sized
500 ml        Water
1 tblspn      Cooking Oil
3 pcs           Tomatoes, sliced
40 grams     Onion, sliced
250 ml        Tamarind juice ( boil tamarind 1 cup water and extract the juice )
80 grams     String beans, cut into 1-1.5”
100 grams   Egg plant,sliced
50 grams     Kangkong(water spinach) leaves
Patis or salt to taste


  • Clean and cut bangus into 3 pieces, set aside.
  • In a caserole, Sautee onion and tomatoes in oil
  • Add water, tamarind juice and bangus. Simmer for 5-8 mins.
  • Add string beans and eggplant. Simmer until vegetables are cooked.
  • Add kangkong over before serving.


Keep the lid off and let the flavors
Engulf the house to its rafters
Better yet open the doors
And windows, let your
Nosy neighbors envy you
of the delights
Of adobo– Leny Strobe

Adobo is the acknowledged Philippine national dish. It is the most popular  dish close to the heart -or rather stomach !– of every Filipino.  It could be argued that there is really no “national dish” that was set by law, but Adobo is no doubt the common denominator in every Filipino kitchen.

It is said that the word Adobo is a Spanish word for seasoning or marinade– the dish; Adobo is not introduced by the Spanish colonizers. The cooking process of stewing meat in vinegar is already being prepared by the early Filipino families –long before the conquistadores came. The Spaniards only referred to it as Adobo due to its similarity to their process of marinating. Adobo is truly Filipino–created by our ancestors.

To say that Adobo is just one dish is an understatement.  The cooking method has gone beyond the pork and chicken boundary and led to cooking just about anything to Adobo-from beef, carabeef (water buffalo meat), goat meat, to fish, seafood such as squid, shrimp and sea shells, poultry such as duck quail, to vegetables such as long beans, eggplants and kangkong (water spinach) and even to the exotic foods —such as frog, field mice and balut (duck embryo).

Undoubtedly, Adobo is unique as its people and diverse as its culture!



1 kg             Chicken pieces
½  k            Pork Liempo(Pork belly), 2-2.5”
1 ¼ c           Cane Vinegar
1 tblspn       Salt
½ tspn        Black pepper, freshly crushed
5 tblspn       Garlic, minced
1 pc             Bay leaf
2 tblspn      Vegetable oil
(fried /toasted garlic–optional)


  • In a large pan, brown chicken and pork. Set aside.
  • Using the same pan, add oil and sauté garlic
  • Add Chicken, Pork and the rest of the ingredients
  • Simmer for 20-30 minutes on low fire
  • Sprinkle with fried garlic on top and serve.

About Chef Day

My Passion : Cook, Eat and Celebrate Life !
This entry was posted in Philippine Cuisine and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Philippine Culinary Identity : Sinigang or Adobo ?

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Philippine Culinary Identity : Sinigang or Adobo ? | chef by day --

  2. Jai says:

    Hi Day, I like your blog and your post. Adobo sounds fabulous! Lots of garlic… I’m a garlic freak. Hope to read more. Ciao!

  3. chef_d says:

    Welcome to the wonderful world of blogging! 🙂

  4. Chowhound says:

    Please don’t make me choose!!! I love both sinigang and adobo. They are my comfort food and I definitely turn to them when I get smacked by occasional bouts of homesickness. I eat more adobo than sinigang though because it practically cooks itself whereas sinigang is a little bit more labour intensive.

    Great blog by the way, love it!

  5. yum! i like this fancy addition! your adobo is similar to jun belen’s! i must try your sinigang!

  6. Jun Belen says:

    Adobo or sinigang? That’s a tough choice! But for this rainy and cold winter we’re having in California, I’d go for a bowl of sinigang. But day-old pork adobo on freshly steamed rice sounds good, too! Did I say it was a tough choice?

  7. AdoboChef says:

    I love sinigang but I like adobo more 🙂 A touch choice indeed!

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  9. Adobo! I think I confused a Puerto Rican friend of mine the first time I started talking about Filipino adobo. She also grew up eating dishes with adobo spices, but she didn’t know of a single dish called “adobo.”

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  13. foodpick says:

    It makes me envy when i smell the scent of my neighbourhood’s adobo. Adobo is just my type of food. Thanks for his information. ! ^_^

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