It's been said a few times before in this space, but it bears mentioning again: almost anything can be made into a Filipino Adobo. As long as you have a braising liquid consisting of vinegar, soy and/or salt, garlic, bay leaves, and black peppercorns, a tasty adobo you should have. Of course, we Filipinos veer toward the meaty side of things when throwing something into the adobo braise.
In fact, you might remember adobo from such meaty blog posts as Chicken Adobo (Yes, Again), Unforgettably Fatty, and the Burnt Lumpia classic, Wingin' It, Filipino Style. But even things like squid and water spinach do a good adobo make.
And, as I discovered at my grandmother's most recent Thanksgiving feast, even chile peppers can be adobo'd!
Me: Grandma, how do you make this chile pepper thing? It's so good!
Grandma: Well, you just cook the sili with vinegar, soy, garlic, bay leaf, black pepper...
Me: Wait a second. So this is an adobo? With chile peppers?!!
Grandma: (Incredulously) Well, yes!
Soon after hearing this and finishing my meal, I stole away to my grandparents' backyard garden to steal some of their home-grown chile peppers--I knew I had to make the Chile Pepper Adobo in my own kitchen.
Mild green chile peppers from my grandparents' garden.
My grandparents didn't know what specific variety of chile pepper they were growing in their garden, but after some internet sleuthing, I believe they are green Anaheim Chile Peppers (perhaps siling mahaba in the Philippines?). It's a mild chile pepper that provides a wonderful sweetness and fruitiness when made into an adobo.
Garlic-n-Pepa and DJ Adoborella
To turn the fresh green capsicums into an adobo, I simply brown some crushed garlic in a saute pan, and then throw the whole chile peppers into the mix. I saute the chile peppers just for a minute or two--just so they get coated in the oil.
Oooooh! You just got adobo'd!
Then, the usual magical mix of adobo ingredients are added to the pan: vinegar, soy, garlic, bay leaf, and black peppercorns. The pan is covered and simmers until the chile peppers soften and shrivel. And voila, you have yourself Adobong Sili!
Even though Adobong Sili is more of a side dish than a main course, it has become my favorite adobo to make. It's incredibly easy to prepare, and it fills the house with this crazy adobo aroma of sweet chile peppers and garlic. The finished dish is both sweet and savory and wonderfully fruity--in a good chile pepper kinda way.
Adobong Sili (Chile Pepper Adobo)
Makes 6-8 servings as an appetizer
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
8-10 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 pound fresh mild green chile peppers (such as Anaheim), rinsed and dried
1/2 cup filipino cane vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 bay leaf
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons sugar
Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic to the pan and cook until lightly browned on all sides, about 5-6 minutes. Add the chiles to the pan, and toss to coat with the oil and garlic.
Add the vinegar, soy, bay leaf, and black pepper to the pan and stir to combine. Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the chiles soften and shrivel.
Uncover the pan, add the sugar, and stir to combine. Allow contents to simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 5 more minutes. Taste the sauce and add additional seasoning if necessary.
Serve immediately as a side dish with steamed white rice.