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Tangy and Savory Shrimp Adobo

This shrimp adobo balances savory and sour with the creeping heat from the black pepper.

This dish comes together quickly making it a great weeknight meal.

Filipino Adobo is a rich, comforting braise that doesn’t taste heavy or cloying thanks to the moderating influence of tangy vinegar. The balance of savory and sour with the creeping heat from the black pepper and pungent garlic makes for a dish that tastes surprisingly complex considering how few ingredients go into making it.

Although the ingredients are relatively simple, Chicken Adobo does take a while to braise, which doesn’t make it well suited for a quick weeknight meal. That’s why I’ve wanted a fast alternative that still incorporates the best parts of the original. My solution? Use shrimp!

This Shrimp Adobo joins the likes of Gambas al Ajillo and Kung Pao Shrimp in terms of its effort to taste ratio. The shrimp takes seconds to cook, and by making the sauce in the same pan, it takes on depth and complexity that belies the fact that this whole dish comes together in under 5 minutes!

Before you start making this dish, be sure you have all the ingredients measured out as it goes pretty quickly. The key to ensuring your shrimp ends up plump and juicy is to sear them over high heat until they’re almost cooked through, and then removing them from the pan while you make the sauce. By adding the shrimp back in at the very end, after the sauce has caramelized, it glazes the outside of the shrimp, without overcooking them.

Tangy and Savory Shrimp Adobo

Yield: 2 servings


  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 12.4 ounces shrimp
  • 0.3 ounces garlic (1 very large clove)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon coconut sugar (use cane sugar if you don't have this)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • scallions (for garnish)


  1. Heat a frying pan until hot. Add the vegetable oil and swirl to coat the pan.
  2. Add the garlic and shrimp and spread into a single layer. When the shrimp start to brown, flip it over and sear until it's almost (but not completely) cooked through. Transfer the shrimp to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Add the apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, coconut sugar, bay leaves and ground black pepper to the pan and bring the sauce to a boil. Continue boiling until the sauce has reduced and is nice and thick.
  4. Add the shrimp back in and toss to coat.
  5. Serve the shrimp adobo on top of hot white rice garnished with chopped scallions.

This recipe by Marc Matsumoto originally appeared on PBS Food, Fresh Tastes Blog.

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