Adobong Sili (Chile Pepper Adobo)


It’s been said a few times before in this space, but it bears mentioning again: almost anything can be made into a Filipino Adobo. As long as you have a braising liquid consisting of vinegar, soy and/or salt, garlic, bay leaves, and black peppercorns, a tasty adobo you should have. Of course, we Filipinos veer toward the meaty side of things when throwing something into the adobo braise.

In fact, you might remember adobo from such meaty blog posts as Chicken Adobo (Yes, Again)Unforgettably Fatty, and the Burnt Lumpia classic, Wingin’ It, Filipino Style. But even things like squid and water spinach do a good adobo make.

And, as I discovered at my grandmother’s most recent Thanksgiving feast, even chile peppers can be adobo’d!

Chile Pepper Adobo, or Adobong Sili, is something my grandmother makes from time to time, but I never really took notice of it until recently. Maybe it’s because my grandmother just refers to the dish simply as “Sili.” Or maybe it’s because I didn’t even realize it was a type of adobo until I asked my grandmother what was in the dish.

Me: Grandma, how do you make this chile pepper thing? It’s so good!

Grandma: Well, you just cook the sili with vinegar, soy, garlic, bay leaf, black pepper…

Me: Wait a second. So this is an adobo? With chile peppers?!!

Grandma: (Incredulously) Well, yes!

Soon after hearing this and finishing my meal, I stole away to my grandparents’ backyard garden to steal some of their home-grown chile peppers–I knew I had to make the Chile Pepper Adobo in my own kitchen.

Mild green chile peppers from my grandparents’ garden.

My grandparents didn’t know what specific variety of chile pepper they were growing in their garden, but after some internet sleuthing, I believe they are green Anaheim Chile Peppers (perhaps siling mahaba in the Philippines?). It’s a mild chile pepper that provides a wonderful sweetness and fruitiness when made into an adobo.

IMG_4183Garlic-n-Pepa and DJ Adoborella

To turn the fresh green capsicums into an adobo, I simply brown some crushed garlic in a saute pan, and then throw the whole chile peppers into the mix. I saute the chile peppers just for a minute or two–just so they get coated in the oil.

Oooooh! You just got adobo’d!

Then, the usual magical mix of adobo ingredients are added to the pan: vinegar, soy, garlic, bay leaf, and black peppercorns. The pan is covered and simmers until the chile peppers soften and shrivel. And voila, you have yourself Adobong Sili!

Even though Adobong Sili is more of a side dish than a main course, it has become my favorite adobo to make. It’s incredibly easy to prepare, and it fills the house with this crazy adobo aroma of sweet chile peppers and garlic. The finished dish is both sweet and savory and wonderfully fruity–in a good chile pepper kinda way.

Adobong Sili (Chile Pepper Adobo)

Makes 6-8 servings as an appetizer

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
8-10 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 pound fresh mild green chile peppers (such as Anaheim), rinsed and dried
1/2 cup filipino cane vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 bay leaf
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons sugar

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic to the pan and cook until lightly browned on all sides, about 5-6 minutes. Add the chiles to the pan, and toss to coat with the oil and garlic.

Add the vinegar, soy, bay leaf, and black pepper to the pan and stir to combine. Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the chiles soften and shrivel.

Uncover the pan, add the sugar, and stir to combine. Allow contents to simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 5 more minutes. Taste the sauce and add additional seasoning if necessary.

Serve immediately as a side dish with steamed white rice.

  • Joy December 13, 2010, 5:23 pm

    Ohhh I am craving that now.

  • Lorena December 14, 2010, 8:31 am

    This is why adobo is so awesome — you can make it with anything. I’ve also done eggplant and broccoli adobo, too. I’m trying this next, especially since my grandma grows the same kind of peppers! Yum!
    Thanks, Marvin!

  • caninecologne December 19, 2010, 7:11 pm

    the chili pepper adobo looks great marvin! now it’s time for me to steal some peppers from my parents’ back yard!!!!
    and bittermelon, and eggplant, and sitao….

  • abenk December 19, 2010, 7:43 pm

    it’s nice blog….. i like it..
    pleased to meet your blog…
    please VISIT ME…OK…thank u very much

  • BurntLumpia December 21, 2010, 6:36 pm

    Thanks joy.
    Oooh, eggpland and brocoli adobo? Sounds terrific Lorena!
    Parents’ backyards are the best places for looting, right Caninecologne:)
    Thanks abenk.

  • joey January 4, 2011, 8:57 pm

    This sounds awesome! Definitely putting this on the to-do list! Happy 2011! :)

  • JM Ibanez January 7, 2011, 10:05 am

    My mom, who hails from Laoag, calls these chili peppers siling Iloco, to differentiate from the ones used in sinigang, siling haba.
    I love having this actually. Especially if you cook it with a little bagnet. 😀 Whenever my mom, my aunts, or their relatives come in from Ilocos, they usually bring a bagful of the stuff, and we usually have this. Yum.

  • manju January 12, 2011, 6:38 am

    Going to have to give these a try. Don’t have a parental unit’s backyard to swipe from, but the Korean markets here are always full of these.
    BTW, did you see the write up in NYT about adobo on Jan 5th? Has coconut milk in it. I know there are regional variations, but no!
    …sorry, now that that’s out of my system, I’m going to have to make some of my grandmother’s chicken and pork adobo…

  • Arcee dela rosa January 20, 2011, 1:10 am

    My boyfriend always tells me about this dish. Because he’s from Bicol, it doesn’t make me wonder why he’s mouth waters for spicy dishes. When i first heard of the dish, I had a hard time believing it is actually possible to be done ’cause most of the time he would tell me about things that are really out of this world. But when I got to your blogsite and saw how the dish looks like, I started to believe that it really exists. lol. And it looks delicious and palatable. I also like spicy food so I might as well have my own recipe of Adobong Sili. Thanks to you.
    And btw, I was able to watch Jessica Soho’s episode in which you were featured. Proud of you even if I don’t know you personally. I hope to meet you soon. We’ll really get along ’cause I too am extremely inclined to cooking.
    Nice blog. Proud of you. ♣

  • Leah January 24, 2011, 11:59 am

    This is my favorite too! I’m from Pangasinan and i ask my mom to make this for me everytime I’m home.


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