Food Event: Adobo Movement Challenge

Friday, June 17, 2016 Philippines


Adobo is one of my favorite Filipino Dishes. Its classic and best paired to rice. In celebration of the cultural gastronomic heritage of Adobo, NutriAsia's Datu Puti put Filipinos to task in finding and feting the best adobo recipes with the recent Datu Puti Adobo Challenge held last June 11, 2016 at Mercato Centrale in BGC. 

Together with Mercato Central and Our Awesome Planet, the Datu Puti Adobo Challenge was part of the thrust to take the Datu Puti Adobo Movement to a step further this 2016. In 2015, the Datu Puti Adobo Movement was created to push for Adobo to be our pambansang ulam. It is a movement that we can relate because Adobo is a dish that is personal and national. It is our signature dish and each household has its own recipe and it helps us to be identified as Filipino. The event was supported by partners Philippine Culinary Heritage Movement (PCHM) and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP). 

The push for Adobo has been echoed by efforts in Congress and even Bohol First District Representative Rene Relampagos filed House Bill 3926 in 2014 that formally declares adobo as national dish. The Datu Puti Adobo Movement has drawn support for the bill through a petition since the launching of the advocacy in June 2015. 

To get more people involved in the movement this year 2016, the advocacy group started the Datu Puti Adobo Challenge and gathered Mercato Centrale's veteran home-based cooks to create their own special Adobo dish. The participating food vendors of Mercato Centrale prepared adobo dishes using any type of meat and vegetable and were marinated in or cooked with at least two of the three main Datu Puti products such as vinegar, soy sauce and patis (fish sauce). 

I post food entries on my blog but it is my first time to attend a Food Event and my first time to actually taste and vote for the best dishes. 

The top 14 entries were selected based on various criteria, including the creativity of concept, which looks at the story behind the dish as well as originality, branding and cooking technique; innovation, noting the use of unique special ingredients and Datu Puti products; and Philippine culinary heritage, including how it adopts and represents regional cooking styles. 

I was given a ticket as a guide on each participant. Looking at all the food entry that I need to taste is overwhelming but I am excited to be part of it. 

Let us all check out all the food that I was able to try. The first one that I was able to taste is the Chef Bab's Sisig by a Nueva Ecijano Chef Francis "Bab" Basa who is known for his sisig dishes at Mercato Centrale. His dish called Beef Adobo a la Cablao is a fusion of adobo and sisig wrapped in an omelette before it is served. The meat is crispy and rich and it goes well with the soft omelette. I wanted to eat more of this. I did not think it was possible to create a sisig in other flavor like adobo. 

The second version of adobo that I was able to try was from Bakmi Nyonya. This version of adobo called Babi Kekap was prepared by Lucy, an Indonesian, who adds a dash of Indonesian spices on the classic adobo. The dish was cooked with secret Indonesian spices, cooked in soy sauce, vinegar and served with classic sambal. 

At first, I thought that it is a Vietnamese inspired food because it has a refreshing flavor like the salads from Pho Hoa but I learned that it is Indonesian inspired. The taste is refreshingly good and most of all unique. 

The next on my list is the adobo version of Cuisiners. The Cuisiners is known for grilling and roasting. Their Chefs, Raymond Fabre and Rapheray Co introduced the pride of Makinabang Baliuag, Bulacan which is their Crispy Beef Adobo. The Makinabang Beef is carefully flavored and cooked until perfectly tender. It is cooked by braising and frying. 

The meat is really tender and the flavor is the classic adobo. 

The fourth participant that I was able to taste is from Good Meal Hunting. They re-invented adobo by giving birth to Fried Chicken Adobo on Fire. It is a combination of Korean and Filipino dishes. The chicken is deep fried and mixed with traditional adobo sauce with some Korean spices. 

The fifth participant that I was able to try next is the House of Crispy. Their version of adobo is Puti and it is a classic version of adobo in the Philippines. Patis (Fish sauce) was used as salting agent instead of soy sauce. Their dish is called Adobo sa Puti and it promotes the cooking style of adobo from the region of Visayas. 

The sixth from my list is the adobo version of Dayrit's. Dayrit's dish is called Pork Adobong Laing Pinangat. Yes, it is a laing and adobo dish combined. According to Chef Miguel Dayrit, he combined the strong flavors of the two to create an outstanding dish. This Bicolandia inspired combination is a fusion of the creamy, hot and spicy and the sour and salty trademarks of laing and adobo. 

Its gastronomic and I want more! 

Next stop is to Dadding's Kitchenette which is famous for their home-cooked style food. They have a popular restaurant in Laguna and they ventured out to Mercato. The dish that he prepared was Adobong Enselada, a mixture of adobo flakes topped with salted eggs and mangoes wrapped in banana leaves. The mixture is flavorful and can serve as a meal starter, a viand or a stand-alone snack or maybe as a pulutan. It is simple and yet it has an exploding experience with every bite. 

The eighth entry that I was able to taste is from Fat Ninja Gyoza. This one made me really curious because I cannot imagine a Gyoza with Adobo flavor. He calls it Adobofied Gyoza wherein it is soft and chewy on top and fried to perfection underneath. The shredded adobo and some Japanese spices were stuffed in a mixture and rolled into a dough with added blow-torch-melted cheese to add flavor. 

Next on my list is the Good Meal Hunting Halal. The classic chicken adobo is blended with soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, onion and seasoning and its prepared and cooked in halal. 

That is already a lot of food, right? I am not yet finished though. I still have more dishes to try and the next on my list is from Lariza's. They are known for their variety of seafood dishes. They represented the Seafood Adobo and it is a dish with a mixture of mussels, prawns and crabs stirred in a mixture of vinegar and soy sauce, garlic, onion, pepper and finished with cheese on top. The owner, Tess Gonzales decided to become edgy and she avoided the use of pork or chicken for her adobo. 

I can still do this but I am starting to feel full from all of the food...LOL. For the next adobo version, let us find out the dish by Hunger Buster. For a change, it is not a viand but a snack like a burger. An adobo inspired burger. The burger is called Adoburger and its ground beef was marinated in adobo sauce to make a yummy patty. It is fried until golden brown and topped with sunny-side up egg and kiwi. 

Next stop is the Timplador Lechon House and their dish is called Pork Humba. The owner Celetstino Malalo-oy cooked the adobo using soy sauce, garlic and vinegar and pineapple juice, pineapple tidbits and black beans are added into the mixture. It has a fusion of sweet, sour and salty flavors. 

The Oinkery's owner Matthew See cooked the adobo with a Cebu inspired method of cooking lechon. the pork meat was roasted inside a pugon for a smoky taste. It was slow cooked of eight hours and it has a soft and juicy taste. 

The last participant, The Hairstylist's Menu created their adobo dish called Four-Way Cooked Chicken Adobo in a Pouch by Leo Pascual. The shredded chicken was boiled in coconut milk and cooked with garlic, soy sauce and vinegar. It was mixed inside a lumpia wrapper to form small pouches and it was deep fried until golden brown. It is served with dips. 

There were other free dishes to taste but they are not included on the contest. 

As a blogger, I was also able to enjoy my free food too! Too bad I was not able to find the cupcake dessert at Mercato. 

After trying out all the dishes, I am now ready to choose my favorites. I was given three tokens to give to my top picks. Are you ready to know what I love from all the dishes that I was able to try? 

My top three picks are: 

1. Dayrit's
2. Dadding's Kitchenette
3. The Hairstylist's Menu

The winners are: 

1. The Oinkery
2. Dayrit's
3. Bakmi Nyonya

The people's choice award goes to Lariza's. 

All Adobo winners were awarded with funds in cash to make their winning dishes a regular in Mercato Menu while the people's choice awardee was given 3,000php worth of Datu Puti goods. 

Mercato Centrale was the right venue for celebrating this challenge. The night became more festive as it was serenaded by Up Dharma Down and Ebe Dancel. It is truly a night of Pinoy Pride. 

Interested to join the movement and make Adobo as our nation's dish? Just sign the petition at

Thank you so much Datu Puti, I can now enjoy my own version of adobo with all of the marinade sauce that I got as well as the recipe book, 50 Shades of Adobo. 

To my readers, do you want a copy of the 50 Shades of Adobo (PDF file)? I can send it to your email! Just comment your email address on this blog post. :)

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