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A Brief History of Filipino Adobo

What's the history behind Adobo, the iconic Filipino and unofficial national dish of the Philippines?

Adobo is the most symbolic and recognizable meal from the Philippines. It is a symphony of flavor built on vinegar, soy sauce and aromatics typically served with a protein (commonly chicken) and vegetables. There are countless variations and renditions of the dish depending on the regional preferences and family tradition and heritage. 

The origin of the Philippines' most iconic dish is a fascinating tale of indigenous ingenuity and Spanish influence. The story begins with Filipinos in the archipelago (group of tiny islands), where they would use vinegar to preserve their food in the hot climates of the Philippines. This method of preservation dates back centuries. Eventually, Chinese traders brought soy sauce to the nation, and Filipinos began incorporating the ingredient into the dish as a predominant flavor. It wasn’t until the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, where the name “adobo” was assigned, from the Spanish word “adobar” (meaning “to marinate”). The name, adobo, stuck around in both Filipino and Spanish cuisines, but there’s notable distinctions between the two cultures' renditions of the meal. 


Photo by Eibner Saliba on Unsplash

Filipino Adobo typically refers to a meal, including the adobo marinade, protein, and vegetables commonly served over rice. It’s savory (from the soy sauce and vinegar), with notes of garlic and umami flavors. Spanish “adobo" uses paprika and chilies for a smokier flavor profile and is often used as a spice/marinade to enhance flavor, rather than being a complete meal itself.


There you have it! The journey of Filipino adobo as it’s known today is a blend of indigenous heritage and adaptation. The beauty of Adobo is how variational it is, with many households having their own spin on the classic formula of spices. Fila Manila’s Adobo marinade is directly  inspired by its founder, Jake Deleon, and his family’s recipe with included date nectar for an additional level of flavor complexity. With authentically real and mouth watering flavors, Fila Manila Adobo marinade is enough to bring this Filipino classic dish to any kitchen!

 Product Mentioned:

Fila Manila Adobo Sauce and Marinade