If you’ve ever walked into a Latino supermarket, you’ve probably come across jars of a murky, brown sauce. The powder, labeled adobo, might not be something you’re used to seeing, but this spice packs a pretty powerful punch!
While different varieties of adobo have slightly different flavors, it generally tastes like a savory spice blend. Adobo has a spicy and salty flavor with a bit of garlic and a pinch of paprika.
What Is Adobo?
Before we jump into learning about the flavors of adobo, let’s take a minute to talk about what it is. Adobo is a type of seasoning that’s used in marinades, which is how it got its name in the first place.
You see, “adobar” is the Spanish word for marinate. Spanish colonists in the Americas gave the spice adobo its name because it was the perfect way to season and preserve foods.
Traditional adobo is made out of a mix of garlic, onion powder, black pepper, oregano, turmeric, citrus zest, and salt. Some chefs add paprika, vinegar, and chili powder to the spice blend, too.
What About Filipino Adobo?
What’s important to note is that adobo is used to refer to a Filipino dish, too. Don’t get confused though! Filipino adobo is a singular dish while Latino adobo is a powdered spice used in cooking.
The reason that the Filipino dish is called adobo is that early Spanish colonists in the area tasted the dish and thought it reminded them of the flavors of adobo seasoning. They dubbed the dish “adobo” thanks to its similar taste and the name stuck.
What Does Adobo Taste Like?
Now that you know a little bit about what adobo is, let’s take a minute to talk about what it tastes like! Adobo is, to put it simply, delicious. The seasoning has tangy, salty, zesty, savory, and complex flavors that make it an explosion in your mouth.
The reason that adobo is so popular is that it brings out dishes’ natural savory notes and adds a bit of bite without being overpowering. Adobo is the ideal way to add a Latino touch to your cooking without making it painstakingly obvious that you’re cooking Latino food.
Unlike many spices, adobo is quite herbaceous. It contains oregano which makes it a bit of a lighter seasoning that tastes great on just about any type of vegetable or protein you can imagine.
Where to Buy Adobo
If you want to try your hand at cooking with adobo, you’ll have no problem finding this spice in your local grocery store. Just head to the Latino or international aisle and look for plastic bottles or packages of this seasoning!
The leading brand of Adobo in the United States is Goya. Goya sells adobo in a wide range of sizes, allowing you to buy jars as small as 8oz or as large as 24oz!
While shopping for adobo, you might also come across cans of “chilis in adobo sauce”. This type of adobo, sometimes called “adobo mojado”, is great for anyone wanting to whip up spicy soups, stews, or sauces. Just be aware that it’s spicier than the powdered variety!
How to Store Adobo
Just like any other spice in your spice rack, you should store adobo in an airtight container and keep it away from moisture and light. You should also keep the spice away from heat.
All three of these elements can damage the spices: Heat and light cause the adobo to lose its aroma and potency while moisture will cause your spice to clump and cake together.
Even though adobo comes in plastic jars, it’s best to transfer it to an airtight glass container as quickly as possible. Glass containers help preserve your spices for longer without allowing toxins from the plastic to infuse the spice.
How to Cook With Adobo
Now that you’ve got a jar of adobo on hand, let’s get down to how to use it! Adobo is most commonly used as a rub on meat, making it perfect for grilling or baking. It’s also frequently used in marinades, adding a unique and spicy flavor to your favorite barbecue treats.
Aside from rubs and marinades, you can use adobo in just about any way you like. Just throw it into your favorite soups, stews, sauces, or stir-fries for a savory spin on these scrumptious snacks!
Frequently Asked Questions
Are you still curious about adobo? Do you have a few lingering questions? Here are some helpful answers to your most commonly asked questions.
What is adobo seasoning similar to?
Adobo is similar to Cajun and Greek seasoning. When it’s cooked into sauces and dishes, the resulting flavor is similar to a thick, spicy tomato sauce, much like what you’d find in a bowl of southern chili.
Is adobo filipino or mexican?
Although adobo is used to refer to foods in both the Philippines and Mexico, these are two actually different foods. Mexican adobo is a blend of chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and paprika. Filipino adobo is an indigenous marinade recipe that got its name from Spanish colonists.
What is a good substitute for adobo seasoning?
If you’re cooking up a dish that calls for adobo and you don’t have any on hand, don’t panic! You can easily substitute Greek seasoning, cajun seasoning, or even chili powder for adobo seasoning without a problem.
What are the benefits of adobo?
Adobo has a few health benefits thanks to the ingredients contained in this spice blend. For one, the oregano in the adobo adds fiber which is necessary for a healthy digestive system. Additionally, iron and calcium are two important minerals that you’ll find in adobo and are important for strong bones.