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I'm going to start this by saying that Adobo is one of my favorite Filipino dishes. It's easy to cook and it's really tasty.
I was rewatching Shokugeki no Soma (Food Wars) Season 1 Episode 23: "Unfolding Individual Competition," when I saw something intriguing in the subtitles. It was Ikumi Mito's dish during the 43rd Annual Tōtsuki Autumn Election's Preliminary round. and it's called, "Dongpo." It's very similar sounding to the traditional dish, "Adobo."
Screenshot from Food Wars Season 1 Episode 23
And now, there came a lingering question in my mind.
"Is Adobo an original Filipino dish or was it originally called, Dongpo?"
Before we answer that question, we need to know what Dongpo is, and its origin. Along with what is actually Adobo and its origin as well.
What is Dongpo?
Photo from Wikipedia
Upon my research, Dongpo is a Chinese dish wherein pork is braised in Soy Sauce, along with other spices. The meat is cut around 5cm thick and is used in variety of dishes after the braising process.
Dongpo's Connection to Philippines
Japan's dishes are directly influenced by China. We can see that when we compare their noodle dishes such as ramen, and rice dishes such as Chahan (Japanese fried rice) and Chao fan (Chinese fried rice).
Photo by Amanda Lim on Unsplash
Another connection why I think Adobo was originally Dongpo was because Japan colonized Philippines in the year 1942 to 1945. I was thinking that during that time, some Japanese actually had the food and some Filipinos tried to recreate it. When they asked the Japanese, Filipinos actually heard it as "Dopo" because Japanese phonology doesn't have an "ng" in their alphabets. And over the course of time, "Dopo" became Adobo.
What is Adobo?
Photo by Alexandra Tran on Unsplash
The term adobo is derived from the Spanish word adobar, meaning marinade. The practice of marinating meat in a flavorful mixture made from vinegar, salt, garlic, paprika, and oregano was common to Spanish cooking." - foodandwine.com
So, do you think Adobo actually is Dongpo or is it an original dish? Comment down below.
Based on my research and understanding, Filipino Adobo is different from Spanish Adobo and Chinese/Japanese Dongpo. However, it's actually a mix of the two. Filipino Adobo actually has 3 base versions:
- Pork Adobo using vinegar only, without soy sauce. It's called, "Adobo sa Suka." Suka means vinegar in Filipino.
- Pork Adobo using Soy Sauce only, without vinegar. It's called, "Adobo sa Toyo." Toyo means soy sauce in Filipino.
- Pork Adobo using Soy Sauce and Vinegar. We just call it Adobo.
Based on these 3 base versions, I would say that the first version, Adobo sa Suka, came from the Spanish influence since Philippines is also colonized by Spain for 333 years from 1565 to 1898.
The second one, Adobo sa Toyo, is actually Dongpo. The cooking is the same, the preparations are the same. The nail in the coffin is Dongpo and Adobo sa Toyo both do not contain sauce. Adobo sa Toyo is usually pan fried and the meat is simmered until the soy sauce is almost gone. This version is the one influenced by Japanese when they colonized Philippines from 1942 to 1945.
The third one, which is braised in both vinegar and soy sauce, is what's known as Filipino Adobo merging both influences from Spanish and Japanese. This is the traditional dish that every Filipino knows and loves.
By this, if we're talking about Filipino Adobo, the one braised both soy sauce and vinegar, then yes, Filipino Adobo is an original Filipino dish.
Photo from kawalingpinoy.com
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