Back in the olden days, when the Malays came to the Philippines they introduced the use of vinegar and salt to preserve food, making it last longer. The Philippines is a hot, tropical country and refrigerators were not yet invented during that time. So food spoilage was a problem. Vinegar and salt were used in many recipes to avoid this problem.
When the Chinese traders came to the Philippines to trade and settle, they introduced soy sauce and a number of ingredients, as well as their cuisine. The Filipinos then adopted Chinese methods of cooking and ingredients. Soy sauce was used as an alternative to salt, especially those Filipinos who lived far from the sea.
When the Spaniards came to the Philippines, they saw how the Filipinos used vinegar and salt to marinate and preserve their proteins. It reminded the Spaniards of how similar it is to their own cooking.
One of the Spaniards who came was Pedro de san Buenaventura who labeled the cooking “Adobar de los naturales”, meaning or simply “adobar” for short, and later it was named Adobo. The Spanish word Adobar literally means to marinade or pickling sauce.
Since the Philippines is divided into many different regions, especially separated by sea, Adobo came in many different versions and by culture. Some cultures are highly influenced by the Chinese so they used soy sauce and vinegar instead of salt and vinegar. Some regions are closer to the bay or the sea hence they preferred Adobong Pusit or Squid Adobo. For those regions who are far from the sea and had no way of getting their hands on sea food, they used pork or chicken. Other regions who are known for planting coconuts, used coconut in the recipe with the absence of soy sauce and vinegar and named it Ginataang Adobo or adobo in coconut milk. In the central par of the country namely the Visayas Region who as well were greatly influence by the Chinese settlers called their version adobong bisaya or Visayan Adobo, which they added sugar to. Some regions preferred the original adobo which only consists of vinegar and salt, called their version Putting adobo meaning White Adobo.
Even though there are different types of adobo, one reigns supreme; the Adobo Tagalog. This version had become the national food of the Philippines and wherever you ask most people will give you the same exact recipe. The Adobo has become a staple viand for each and every Filipino Household or native restaurant in the country.
Pork, Chicken or Squid. Boiled and simmered in low fire with soy sauce and vinegar. Cooked until the meat is tender, and the meat has fully absorbed the vinegar and soy sauce.
Pork or chicken, soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaf, garlic and black pepper corns.