Adobo is a popular dish, not only among filipinos but among foreigners, who seem to think that this is truly original filipino, but it is not! Like many things in the Philippines, adobo is hispanic in origin (Nancy Reyes Lumen) as cited in the Adobo book (2004). In the hispanic aisle of grocery stores in the US, there are several food mixes labeled as adobo. Although it is a favorite among foreign diners, the filipino adobo is not famous enough internationally as compared to sushi from the Japanese, pizza from the Italians, pad thai from the Thais, or the curries from the Indians. It is probably known in the US as a Mexican dish than a filipino dish. No competition there because adobo, even in the Philippines, comes in many different forms across regions, and even across families! It may be cooked dry, or with “sarsa”, with or without coconut milk, or with or without soy sauce. In my own version of adobo, I add green olives to enhance the flavor http://foodleisure.com/chicken-adobo/. No matter how it is prepared, the main ingredients remain the same, vinegar, garlic, bay leaf, garlic, and peppercorns.
Apart from the different styles of cooking, another form of identity crisis for the adobo is it can either be served during special occasions, or it can be served on an ordinary day. But one striking feature of the adobo is that it is the best food when the power fails. Recent thunderstorms in the US have caused a lot of power outages and many have had to throw away food because they do not have refrigeration. This reminds of the time during typhoons in the Philippines and the power would be out for several days. It was not a cause for panic because the meats and seafood (almost anything in the freezer) could be cooked into adobo. Thanks to the preserving power of the vinegar, the meats last for several days without refrigeration. Because of its good flavor, it is tolerable to eat it more than once. Adobo also taste better after a few days (aged like wine). To make it more interesting, fry some crushed garlic on the pan used to cook adobo with some remaining “sarsa” until the garlic is golden brown, then add cooked rice. This is adobo fried rice which is perfect with chicken pork adobo.
To learn more about the filipino adobo, read The Adobo Book, Traditional & Jazzed-Up Recipes by Reynaldo Gamboa Alejandro and Nancy Reyes-Lumen.