There are just some family recipes one doesn’t mess with, and that includes adobo. Just about every Filipino household claims that their adobo is the best — which is why actor and director Gabe Mercado may have ruffled a few feathers with his hot take on what is arguably the Philippines’ national dish (also a hot take — sinigang lovers, anyone?).
Over the weekend, the Third World Improv founder boldly tweeted, “This is your reminder not to put extra things like patatas (potatoes) in adobo.”
This is your reminder not to put extra things like patatas in adobo.
— Gabe Mercado (@gabemercado) May 28, 2022
It seems that Mercado feels strongly about not having potatoes in his adobo as he also jokingly challenged those who disagreed to a fistfight.
Because suntukan na lang
— Gabe Mercado (@gabemercado) May 28, 2022
Ako rin. I don't like potatoes or any extender in adobo but to each his own, as they say. Garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, peppercorn and of course, chicken! Ayos na ayos na! BTW, I don't put bay leaf. Ayaw ko.
— Dhonna Salazar (@MomtoFioRiEli) May 28, 2022
Yet several defended putting potatoes in their adobo, with some admitting that Gabe’s reaction was the first time they had heard that potatoes were not one of the main ingredients in a classic adobo.
huh???? I thought patatas in adobo is literally like one of the main ingredients??
— jiji – dendro when (@IttoZeHimbo) May 28, 2022
Others brought up more arguably unconventional ingredients such as raisins, eggplants, and bananas.
Pano sir pag raisins? Hehe
— Zalveen (@zalveen) May 28, 2022
Talong in adobo yum! Pampadagdag and inaabsorb nga yung extra alat lalo na kung mahilig ka sa maalat mas talong na lang nakakain ko kesa karne sa abodo
— Melanie Lopez (@iamelaniellopez) May 28, 2022
Why? Ang sarap kaya. I think ang misplaced ingredient sa mga pagkain will always be raisins. Raisins sa embutido? Yak. Sa Macaroni? Bakit? Sa fruit salad?!?????????!!!!!! Pati sa Menudo? Raisins?????? Ew
— æ 주 (@jooeyakwistina) May 29, 2022
The actor’s post also spurred some incendiary reactions from those who argued that potatoes (and in some cases, boiled eggs) were ways of increasing the dish’s serving size without having to spend extra money on meat, which can be expensive for some households.
This is your reminder that majority of the Philippine population is lower middle class and unlike you we cannot afford to serve every single family member huge pork or chicken they want so we put patatas to compensate. https://t.co/vITGkKAGCT
— eb (@multicaratspree) May 28, 2022
Actually, there are 2 reasons why some folks put patatas in adobo. One, they use patatas as an extender (pamparami) and two, if they accidentally made the adobo a bit too maalat. The patatas absorbs some of the saltiness.
— Busy Lizzie (@liz44960262) May 28, 2022
All this adobo debate on twitter is plain proof that many people here have never experienced being poor before. Adobo can have patatas, saba, papaya, boiled egg, etc. These are not just silly experimentations on food… they are creative means of survival
— miji #AngatBuhay (@miji_art) May 29, 2022
I'm sorry but to me this is such a privileged take. Patatas in adobo and corned beef are ways to increase the serving size. https://t.co/wPStY1Ze4C
— Ganda Mo (@anggandagandamo) May 29, 2022
Should potatoes go in adobo? Although adobo is derived from the Spanish word adobar, which means “to marinate,” Filipino adobo is different from the Spanish and Latin American iterations, the latter of which may include olive oil, thyme, laurel leaf, oregano, paprika, and salt.
Contrary to popular belief, Filipino adobo is a purely indigenous dish — our ancestors were braising chicken or pork in vinegar to preserve and flavor them long before the arrival of the Spaniards, who later recognized the locals’ cooking technique as adobo. Chinese traders later introduced soy sauce to Filipino cuisine and eventually it found its way into the adobo dish we all know today.
In Mercado’s case, he was likely referring to the classic adobo, a highly savory, sour, and salty dish that usually consists of pork or chicken (or both) stewed in soy sauce, vinegar, peppercorns, garlic, and dried bay leaves.
That said, there is no single way to prepare adobo, as various regions in the Philippines and even households prepare the dish quite differently. There are versions in which elements such as coconut milk or mashed pork liver are used instead of soy sauce and those in which the main protein may be beef, duck, quail, seafood, fish, or even frogs or insects. Other vegetables and crops may also be included in the mix such as bamboo shoots, banana blossoms, water spinach, eggplant, and yes — even potatoes.
So should you add potatoes to your adobo? We only have one answer: if you want to.