I’ve only recently started posting regularly to my YouTube Channel, but the community there is active, vocal, and, in some ways, incredibly supportive. One YT follower asked that I post Filipino food, and I thought, “Sure!” Because I know nothing about Filipino food, though, I decided to do some research. I not only Googled “Filipino food,” I also spent some time watching a bunch of YT videos of Filipino people making their native foods. Among the most popular dishes was a dish called “Chicken Adobo.”
So, I decided to dig more into Chicken Adobo and after reading multiple iterations of the recipe, it started to sound very similar to a dish my grandmother used to make for me and my brother. One of our FAVORITE dishes–the one we used to ask for all the time. But, why in the world would my North Korean grandmother be making her grandkids Filipino food? Well, I asked my mother about it and it turns out that it WAS Chicken Adobo that my grandmother was making for us!
My mother’s best friend at work, Esther, was Filipino. And she taught my mother how to make this dish, and my mother, in turn, taught my grandmother (because Cheen Hahlmuhnee thought it was so delicious). And that is why my grandmother would make it for us kids all the time. The most amazing thing about all of this is that I would have never known this story had my YouTube follower not asked me to veganize Filipino food. I think that is so incredibly beautiful, don’t you?
How To Make The “Chicken.”
I generally don’t eat alternative meats (though I’m a big proponent of anything that will help people transition to a more meat free diet), but I did want to experiment a little with developing something that really looked and tasted like “chicken.” This methodology probably won’t go toe-to-toe with the heavyweights (Beyond Meat or Impossible Meats), but it’s fun to make, looks the part, and tastes delicious!
You need the following:
- Potato Starch
I’ve never used fresh jackfruit before, so if you’d like to use fresh jackfruit, I can’t vouch that it’ll work the same way. That said, I washed and drained the brine from the canned jackfruit and removed all the hard seeds that are buried in the fleshy parts.
Afterwards, I cut off the hard “stems” from the fleshy parts, as well. What I really wanted was a bunch of the fibrous parts of the jackfruit, so that when you bite into a “drumstick,” you can see the jackfruit flesh.
The other component of the “chicken” is tofu. As you’ve seen from my Ricepop Tofu recipe, tofu, when frozen, thawed, and pressed (twice) actually undergoes a chemical alteration that makes it chewier. It also retains the air pockets caused by the frozen liquid that is pressed out of it, making it far better at sucking in flavors. Accordingly, I thought it might work to mix the jackfruit together with the tofu to come up with “chicken.”
Now, it’s all well and good if you can approximate the texture of the meat, but there needs to be something that holds it altogether. Enter potato starch. I love potato starch because it’s gluten free, it thickens, gets gelatinous when exposed to heat, and crisps up beautifully when fried. I therefore add a little bit of potato starch, which reacts to the liquid in the mixture, to serve as a glue. I knead the whole thing together for a few minutes until it turns into rough dough. If it’s too wet (and you’ll find out soon enough of it is when you try molding your “meat” to your “bones”), just add 1 teaspoon of potato starch at a time until it gets to the consistency you’ll need. HOWEVER, the more potato starch you add, the less “meaty” your drumsticks will be, so really only add just as much as you need and no more.
In order to really make these look like chicken, I did want to have a “bone”–something you can hold onto while you eat these drumsticks. In my book, I have another recipe that utilizes this methodology (it’s amazing and you will want it, trust me!), but instead of parsnip, I used burdock root. Burdock root is NOT easy to come by in the United States, though, so I used parsnips here to serve the same purpose. You just cut it up into 2-inch long pieces, relatively thin (around 1/2-inch thick).
Take a chunk of the “dough” and begin molding it around a parsnip piece. Again, if you find that your dough is too wet to actually adhere to the parsnip, add a teensy bit of potato starch to your dough until you find that it does the trick.
Next, in order to achieve a “skin” over the meat, coat the drumsticks with a thin layer of potato starch.
Afterwards, I added a little oil to my pan and crisped up the drumsticks until they were nice and brown on all sides. Don’t they look gorgeous? I am so proud of them!
Braising The “Chicken.”
My understanding of chicken adobo is that it is essentially chicken that’s braised in a fabulously delicious braising liquid, made of the following:
- soy sauce
- black peppercorns
- bay leaves
After browning the drumsticks, I removed them from the pan. I added garlic, onions, and potatoes to the pan. I don’t think potatoes are typically part of a chicken adobo recipe, but I love potatoes as we’ve discussed ad nauseum on this blog, so I couldn’t help myself. I did, however, keep it to one medium sized Yukon gold potato and I cut it up into large chunks, so they wouldn’t disintegrate into a mush.
Next, add the drumsticks back to your pan, together with the soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, sweetener (I used brown sugar as this was what I saw used most often in other recipes), black peppercorns, and bay leaves.
I added some gochugaru because, again, I couldn’t help myself (though, my mom says you can also add dried red chilis) as well as “No Chicken Broth” (which is a vegetable stock that tastes remarkably like chicken broth) to finish out my braising liquid.
Then, you just pop on a lid and let it do it’s thing for about 15 minutes over low heat, sometimes spooning the liquid over the top of the drumsticks, until the potatoes are completely tender and the liquid is almost entirely cooked off.
And that is how I make my Vegan Adobo Chicken!
Quick Tips To Make Vegan Adobo Chicken:
- Make sure to twice freeze, thaw, and press your tofu. Using regular extra-firm tofu will not result in the right texture (thought it might still be delicious)!
- Do not go overboard on the potato starch, as doing so will compromise the texture of the tofu and jackfruit combo.
- Use a good vegetable stock or even a No Chicken Veggie Stock in order to add extra dimension to your braising liquid.
- Spoon a little of the braising liquid over the top of the drumsticks while they are braising.
Vegan “Chicken” Adobo
- 14 oz can jackfruit, in brine
- 16 oz extra firm tofu twice frozen, thawed, and pressed
- 2 tbsp potato starch plus more for coating
- 1 large parsnip
- 2 tbsp oil
- 4 to 5 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup onion chopped
- 1 medium potato chopped
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- 1/2 cup vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp gochugaru
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns
- 3 bay leaves
- Remove the jackfruit from the can and rinse and dry. Remove the seeds that are often buried inside the fleshy parts of the fruit.14 oz can jackfruit, in brine
- Cut off the hard stems of the jackfruit, so that all your left with are the soft fibrous parts.14 oz can jackfruit, in brine
- Place the jackfruit in a large container. Break off chunks of the twice frozen, thawed, pressed tofu into the container.16 oz extra firm tofu
- Add 2 tablespoons of potato starch and mix everything together.2 tbsp potato starch
- Dust your surface with a little more potato starch then pour the contents of the bowl out. Knead it gently until a soggy "dough" forms.2 tbsp potato starch
- Cut up the parsnip into about 2-inch long "sticks" that are about 1/2-inch thick.1 large parsnip
- Take a chunk of the "dough" (smaller than a tennis ball, larger than a golf ball) and mold it around a parsnip stick. If the dough does not adhere to the stick, add a teaspoon more potato starch to your dough.1 large parsnip, 2 tbsp potato starch
- Coat the drumstick with potato starch and repeat for the remaining dough.2 tbsp potato starch
- Add oil to a large pan over medium-high heat. When the oil gets hot (it will start to shimmer), add the drumsticks. Cook them until they are browned, about 2 minutes on all sides.2 tbsp oil
- Remove the drumsticks and add garlic, onion, and potato to the pan. Cook them until they are fragrant, around 3 minutes.4 to 5 cloves garlic, 1 cup onion, 1 medium potato
- Add back the drumsticks. Next, add soy sauce, vinegar, and vegetable stock.1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/2 cup vegetable stock
- Add brown sugar, black peppercorns, gochugaru, and bay leaves.2 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tbsp gochugaru, 1 tbsp black peppercorns, 3 bay leaves
- Reduce the heat to low and allow the drumsticks and vegetables to cook until the potatoes are tender, and nearly all the liquid has cooked off, about 12 to 15 minutes.