Squid Adobo Recipe – Iloilo Style

Squid Adobo
Delectable Squid Adobo – Iloilo Style

This Squid Adobo recipe is a varation of the so many kinds of adobo that the Philippines is famous for. That’s because, adobo (braised meat, seafood or vegetable in soy sauce, vinegar and garlic) is the national cuisine in my country. To exemplify, we have as many iterations of the dish as we have islands. And so, squid adobo is just one of the recipes we concoct.

Iloilo is a province in the Western Visayas in the Philippines. My maternal grandmother is a full-blooded Ilongga and my mom was born in Janiuay, Iloilo. Thus, I always proudly considered myself having a quarter of Ilonggo blood. Moreover, I try so hard to speak the dialect, too.

“Lukos” is the Ilonggo word for squid. That’s why in Iloilo, squid adobo is called “adobo nga lukos”.  Being Ilongga, my mom cooks a very mean squid adobo. She also includes diced pork belly in her version which she browns with cooking oil in the same pot where she cooks her squid adobo. This will always be my version of comfort food – my mom’s “adobo nga lukos”.

I had asked her for her recipe a long time ago but no matter how much I tried to make it on my own, it never ended up like hers. I guess because the squid we buy here in Maryland has its ink sac gutted out, my version always ends up brownish instead of the usual black color. Even my mom tells me that. I’ve actually made my peace with that and just accepted that as a reality of my American life.  I did read somewhere, tho, that you can now buy squid ink at asian stores. I have to look into that next time we go grocery shopping.

When you search for squid adobo recipes on the net, you would always encounter an ingredient list with tomatoes in them. I think this is what makes the Iloilo squid adobo different – it doesn’t have tomatoes. That and you don’t have a primary braising of the squids before you saute the garlic and onion and then include the squid again. Whenever I have to transfer pans, it makes the recipe complicated for my liking. I’ll leave that to my mom.

This method is a simpler way of doing squid adobo where all you have to do is layer your ingredients in the pot. That’s why I thought it would be perfect to cook it in my dutch oven. Cooking it in the dutch oven takes the worry out that the squid might be tough or undercooked. This method gives the squid the right kind of tenderness – not too chewy but not too mushy either. I also had to use Datu Puti spiced vinegar because we ran out of the regular white vinegar. But honestly, I think it enhanced the spiciness of the green chiles, which was a welcome kick. I also had to take out the pork. We don’t buy pork for our consumption anymore, remember?

Squid Adobo Recipe – Iloilo Style


  • 2 lbs squid
    6 cloves garlic, crushed
    1 onion diced
    1/2 cup Datu Puti Spiced Vinegar
    1/4 cup soy sauce
    1/2 tbsp pepper corn
    3 bay leaves
    2 green chiles
    3 tbsp cooking oil


  1.  Clean the squid, making sure you take out the spine. Separate the head from the body.
  2. Since the squid we bought from the seafood market were big, I sliced them into rings. I also cut the head to separate the tentacle part from the actual head. But for smaller squids, you can just separate the head from the body and cook it that way.

    sliced squid
    2 lbs of sliced squid
  3. Arrange the squid at the bottom of your dutch oven.
  4. Insert the bay leaves in between the squids.
  5. Sprinkle the peppercorn on top of the squids.
  6. Add the crushed garlic.
  7. Layer the onions next.
  8. Place the chiles on top of the garlic and onion layer.
  9. Pour the vinegar and soy sauce.

    Layered ingredients
    All the ingredients layered inside the dutch oven
  10. Set the stove in a low setting. i usually start mine at the lowest or between the low and middle setting. Take note, your dutch oven doesn’t need high temperatures for cooking. This is what gives your squids the right amount of tenderness.
  11. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. I gave mine 10 to 15 minutes. Do NOT stir while waiting for sauce to boil. You have to let the acid in the vinegar “cook” by letting it be. Otherwise, you end up tasting the sourness of the vinegar and nothing else can correct that.
  12. Once it has been cooking for about 15 minutes, stir in the cooking oil and leave the pot uncovered for about 5 minutes. Uncovering the pot reduces the sauce and the cooking oil makes the sauce thicker.

Now place some hot rice on your plate and pour some of that rich squid adobo onto your rice. Happy eating!!!

Till next time, my lovies!

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