“Marinating is necessary,” says Robert Castañeda about the best-tasting adobo. “When you marinate the meat with the prepared sauce overnight, you allow the flavor to seep into the flesh generously, providing such balanced and juicy bite and taste.”
Another secret Castañeda shares for a mouthwatering adobo is the addition of liver into the sauce.
“The liver, especially when mashed thoroughly, makes the sauce richer and thicker and more distinct in terms of taste and look. For me, the more liver the better,” says Castañeda, director for Swiss-made watches of TechnoMarine and head servant of God Loves Catholic Charismatic Community.
Castañeda’s gift for cooking stems from his being a Kapampangan. He loves to cook for family, friends and fellow religious community members. His version of chicken adobo is simply a result of his constant experiments with food in the kitchen.
Castañeda says he started to make his own adobo after feeling shortchanged by the adobo he had been taking, “Parang may kulang,” he says. “Either it was too oily or too plain.”
So he has concocted his own adobo recipe by marinating the chicken (minimum of four kilos) with soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, onions and pepper overnight. He adds the chicken liver and allows the mixture to boil the following day. To further enrich the dish, he mashes the liver and puts laurel leaves. After cooking, he stores the adobo in the fridge and lets it sit there until he craves for it or when friends come over for lunch or dinner.
However, what makes this adobo more interesting is the reheating process. Castañeda only gets a portion from the adobo (depending on how many people are eating) and reheats it in the pan with a small amount of water.
He then adds all-purpose cream right before serving. The cream, he says, makes the adobo taste richer and look creamier with the light brown color. He garnishes it with hard-boiled eggs and places the adobo on a bed of blanched kangkong.
“I still want my adobo healthy so I only use chicken and add veggies,” he says. “So far, I’ve been getting compliments for my adobo. My friends ask for take-outs every time.”
Yes, the meat, almost falling off the bone, is soft and succulent and subtly seasoned and spiced. The salty-sour blend is not at all overpowering.
“I would make Brazo de Mercedez, thinly layered Sans Rival, etc.,” he recalls. With the help of his mom Lilia, he later ventured into Refrigerator Cake using crunchy broas and Baked Macaroni.
Castañeda, who was also a fashion designer during the ’70s and ’80s before going into the jewelry business, also became popular for his mango crepe, which he sold to his friends.
Some of his specialties now include Lumpiang Hubad, Chicken Curry with saging na saba, eggplant, raisins, carrots, potato and ripe mangoes, and Clams with tausi.
Castañeda, with some of his partner-friends, will soon open a tea salon on Tomas Morato, Quezon City, offering gourmet sandwiches, pasta and refreshing teas.
Chicken Adobo with Kangkong
1 k chicken, adobo-cut
¼ c chicken liver
1 head onions, chopped
1 head garlic, chopped
¼ c Silver Swan soy sauce
1 c Silver Swan vinegar
1 tbsp whole peppercorns
2 pieces laurel leaves
Optional: all purpose-cream
Rinse chicken thoroughly. In a casserole, place chicken with garlic, onions and pepper. Mix well. Add soy sauce and vinegar. Marinate overnight. Then, add chicken liver into the mixture and boil for 20 to 30 minutes. Turn off heat. Remove the chicken and liver from the liquid. In another pan in medium heat, add a little sauce from the adobo and mash the liver. Add the chicken and the remaining sauce into the mashed liver. Add laurel leaves. Boil for another 20 minutes. Let it simmer for a few more minutes. Add cream.
To serve: place blanched kangkong on a platter, pour the chicken adobo and garnish with hard-boiled egg. Serve warm.