204 - Soaring to New Heights with Adobo
By Mary Luz Mejia
When Mayette Morillo was a young girl growing up in a sleepy fishing village in the Philippines, she used to look up and see airplanes flying overhead. She told herself that one day, she too would get on one of those planes and make something of her life, somewhere far away. Luckily for us, her wish came true. Today, this tireless, enterprising woman is the owner/chef of Mayette’s Fine Foods on the Danforth, serving up home-style Filipino fare to diplomats, celebrities, dignitaries and other VIPs from her homeland when they’re in Toronto.
Mayette is known for a number of her authentic, delicious dishes- but one of my favourites is her Chicken Adobo, although I know that amongst Filipinos, Pork Adobo reigns supreme. Adobo is so popular in the Philippines that snacks including chips, crackers and coated nuts are even given a liberal sprinkling of “adobo flavour.” Any way you like it, they say that there are as many adobo recipes in the Philippines as there are families- which explains why not all adobos are created equally. You’d think a dish that uses vinegar and soya sauce as its marinade/base would be mouth-puckeringly sour, but you’d be dead wrong.
In the hands of Mayette, the national dish of the Philippines is savoury, robust and simply wonderful. Chicken pieces (she recommends using the whole bird for maximum flavour) are marinated overnight in soya sauce, vinegar, garlic, bay leaf, salt and black pepper until it’s ready to be cooked. The chicken is then simmered with the marinade as it reduces to a thicker, golden brown sauce.
Some chopped garlic gets quickly fried along with the chicken pieces (sans sauce) to reinforce the garlicky note, onion rings and then the sauce is added once again at the end of this process. Served alongside pancit noodles (or pancit bihon in Tagalog, Canton-style egg noodles with vegetables and/or meat) or steamed white rice; it’s the perfect way to enjoy this under-rated, satisfying food. It’s said that no matter what your social status in the Philippines, adobo is eaten by rich and poor alike. We’re definitely the richer for having Mayette’s culinary talents here in our fair city. Salamat po, Mayette!
Mayette’s Fine Foods
3331 Danforth Avenue
photo credit: Phil Brooks