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PINALAM, the original but forgotten recipe of Filipino ADOBO

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Family Story

This is a Filipino family story When one mentions quintessential Filipino food, “chicken or pork adobo” is the ubiquitous choice. The term adobo is from the Spanish word adobar, meaning “marinate”. When the Spaniards arrived in the late 16th century, they found the natives using this cooking process, noted by some authors as written in Vocabulario de Lengua Tagala by Pedro de San Buena Ventura in 1613. More than 200 years later, adobo was written down again and published in the Tagalog-Spanish-Tagalog Dictionary, the Vocabulario de la Lengua Tagala. Searching inside the book, the word adobo can be found twice: in the Tagalog-Spanish section, as PINALAM = Un gẽnero de adobo de venado con vinagre, y el linabus del labot. Vide Chinalan. The word PINALAM is defined partly as “deer meat (venison) marinated in vinegar”. It appears PINALAM is the old, long-lost original Tagalog word for the cooking process as encountered then by the Spaniard. Later, as we all know, it quietly evolved into the name of the dish itself, adobo. Searching further in the Spanish-Tagalog section, there is no mention of PINALAM. However, the word appears as PANALAM: Adobo de venado con vinagre, PANALAM = “deer meat (venison) marinated in vinegar = PANALAM. There is only the mention of vinegar in the recipe, no other ingredients. It is assumed salt was widely available at that period in time and could have been added to the meat. The description is a far cry from the modern-day recipe with soy sauce, sugar, bay (laurel) leaves, garlic, black pepper, chilies and vegetable oil, etc. These ingredients were introduced through the passage of time, when the Portuguese and Spaniards arrived in 1521, the Arab traders in 1300s and Chinese merchants in 982 AD or earlier. Only chilies were originally from the New World, introduced by Spaniards to Portuguese traders, and as Vasco de Gama made it to India in 1498, spreading it to Thailand, China and Korea. But it is not certain whether Filipinos had already sampled the spicy fruits during Muslim occupation in the decades prior to the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521.


1 Step

1. Wash meat in cold water 2. Boil water in a pan, remove scum on top 3. Add vinegar and salt 4. Cook until tender 5. Serve hot with steamed rice


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