Malaysian comedian Nigel Ng, better known as Uncle Roger, has reviewed an American chef's take on the Filipino classic, adobo. Uncle Roger is known for making reaction videos to chefs making Asian food like egg fried rice, ramen, Thai green curry, pho, and biryani. The video was released on Saturday (Aug 27).
In the video, Uncle Roger watched Chef Geoffrey Zakarian prepare his version of adobo on the Food Network show, The Kitchen. The episode aired in 2019.
Chef Geoffrey Zakarian is famous for appearing as a judge on Food Network's Chopped. He's also the winner of The Next Iron Chef in 2011 and competed in the regular Iron Chef series after. Chef Zakarian started appearing as a co-host on Food Network's The Kitchen in 2014.
"This nephew Geoffrey, he wearing suit to make Asian food. Uncle Roger don't have good feeling about this," Uncle Roger said as the video started.
The comedian turned out to be correct. The chef added some ingredients to marinate the chicken thighs: low-sodium soy sauce, very little vinegar, brown sugar, black pepper, and Habanero.
"Haiyaaa, Habanero don't even grow in the Philippine[s], what you doing suit nephew?" Uncle Roger said, cringing and covering his face.
Chef Zakarian also used only five slices of garlic in the recipe. "Nephew suit guy, use the right amount, not the white amount!" Most viewers also reacted to the lack of garlic in the recipe.
"He's so right about the garlic. Adobo needs a [****] ton of garlic," Tatik Agila, one of the viewers on YouTube, said.
As the video continued, more ingredients not found in adobo were mentioned: too many onions and some lemon.
But what made Uncle Roger most upset was when the chef sprinkled the final product with parsley – an ingredient not native to Filipino cooking.
"Parsley into Filipino adobo! Uncle Roger so upset, I put down my leg down from chair. Parsley don't belong in Asian food; you're not making pasta!"
Of course, any Uncle Roger video is incomplete without the comedian taking a jab at British chef Jamie Oliver. "Where you eating your adobo? Jamie Oliver restaurant is it?"
Here are some other hilarious comments on Facebook:
So what is Filipino adobo?
Filipino adobo is one of the most popular dishes in the Philippines and worldwide. The dish's name comes from the Spanish word "adobar", which means "to marinade".
It's a stew of meat marinated in soy sauce, vinegar, peppercorns, bay leaves, and lots of garlic, then braised in its marinade with only a bit of water. Adobo is so famous that there are many versions across Filipino households in different regions.
In Southern Luzon, some families put gata, or coconut milk, while in Cavite, turmeric is added, thus being called adobo sa dilaw (adobo in yellow).
A popular variant in Visayas is adobong puti: classic adobo braised in salt, vinegar, and lots of garlic. This type of adobo does not use soy sauce. The Ilongos also have a version that calls for atsuete or annatto oil. Still, others like to use vegetables or seafood instead of meatier proteins like chicken.
The common denominator in all adobo dishes is vinegar, tons of garlic, and a salty element to the dish, usually soy sauce. The dish marinated overnight, and while adding a bit of water is okay, it should not be soupy or watery. The meat and the sauce should pack a punch, especially since it's usually eaten with plain rice.
Because the dish is so simple and has many variations, it's hard to mess up the recipe and upset the Filipinos. But it seems like Chef Zakarian broke too many rules.
While a few recipes add onions, adding too many to the dish is not correct. And because Chef Zakarian added some lemon at the end, the final product would probably taste a bit closer to a bland version of another Filipino classic, bistek.
It's not the first time a Western personality failed to share the correct Filipino adobo recipe. Another famous Food Network celebrity, Rachel Ray, shared her take on the Filipino classic in 2020. And although she failed to marinate the dish, it looked more flavorful in the end. However, she added jalapenos, cilantro and parsley.
I also recall reading through a foodie website's compilation of dishes worldwide where the Filipino adobo had sherry wine, shredded chicken breast, ginger, and sesame seeds but lacked the basics: vinegar and garlic. Thankfully, that page seems to be archived now. So maybe Chef Zakarian's version is not as bad.
What do you think about Uncle Roger's reactions to Chef Zakarian's adobo? What do you think is the best kind of adobo?
Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.