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Adobo Seasoning

About Adobo Seasoning

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Adobo is a savory, all-purpose seasoning that imparts garlic flavor and is normally used to season and/or marinate meat, chicken, or fish. It’s an essential seasoning in Spanish Caribbean and Latin American kitchens. It is so fundamental in Latin Cuisines that adobado means "marinated and cooked in adobo sauce".

Adobo Seasoning Description

Adobo Dry Mix - Adobo Seco
Adobo Dry Mix © Hector Rodriguez. Licensed to About.com

Before refrigeration, adobo mixtures were salt and vinegar blends used to preserve meat. The word adobo comes from the Spanish word adobar, which literally means “to marinate”. Historically it meant a type of pickling sauce made with olives, vinegar or wine, and spices.

These days, adobo is prepared a couple of ways: a dry spice mix and a wet rub paste. Generally speaking, it’s no longer used to preserve meat, but is used as a seasoning and sometimes added to beans, stews, and sauces.

Adobo Seasoning Ingredients

Adobo Wet Rub - Adobo Mojado
Adobo Wet Rub © Hector Rodriguez. Licensed to About.com

The basic ingredients are garlic, oregano, black pepper, and turmeric. Then other spices and/or ingredients are added based on cultural and regional preferences. Cuban adobos usually include garlic and cumin and sour orange juice. Puerto Ricans have a preference for vinegar and oregano. Other ingredients sometimes added to adobo mixes include onions, lemon or lime juice, parsley, and/or cilantro.

The adobo dry mix seasoning can be sprinkled directly onto the meat or into beans, stews, and rice.

Onions, olive oil, lime juice, sour orange juice, or vinegar are added to create wet rubs and marinades. For maximum flavor, the meat is allowed to marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

Uses for Adobo Seasoning

Caribbean Latinos are not likely to cook any beef, chicken, pork, fish, seafood, or shellfish without seasoning it first. Adobo is the most common seasoning of choice. It’s an excellent seasoning for most cooking methods such as grilling, roasting, frying, or sautéing. Adobo can also be used as a base seasoning for stews, sauces, beans, soup stock, baked potatoes, and vegetables.

Adobo Recipes

Commercially prepared adobo pales in comparison to homemade adobo. And convenience really isn’t a factor, as it takes less than 5 minutes to prepare.

Adobo Seasoning Dry Rub Recipe - Adobo Seco - Savory dry rub seasoning made with salt, granulated garlic, oregano, black pepper, turmeric, and onion powder.

Adobo Seasoning Wet Rub Recipe - Adobo Mojado - Traditionally, a mortar and pestle were used to pound and grind the ingredients together. With the use of a garlic press, my recipe is a little bit easier than that.

Non-Caribbean Adobos

In Mexico, adobo sauces are red, thick and spicy. Mexican adobos are made with crushed chilies, spices, and vinegar. Pork pieces are marinated in the adobo sauce and then grilled. The adobo sauce can be diluted with water or broth to make a simmering liquid.

In the Philippines, a dish of marinated meat or fish seasoned with garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, and spices is referred to as Adobo. For example: Chicken Adobo. This name refers to the dish as a whole, not the seasoning of the dish.

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