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Uncle Roger roasts American chef's 'traditional' Filipino adobo with habanero, parsley, lemon

By NICK GARCIA Published Aug 31, 2022 5:30 pm Updated Aug 31, 2022 7:09 pm

Haiyaaa! Malaysian YouTube personality Uncle Roger roasted an American chef over his Filipino favorite adobo recipe—as he took liberties with adding outlandish ingredients despite declaring that he'll make it in a "traditional" manner.

Uncle Roger, or Nigel Ng in real life, on Aug. 28 posted a video titled "Uncle Roger HATE FOOD NETWORK ADOBO," in response to Food Network's April 22, 2019, video titled "Geoffrey Zakarian Makes Filipino Adobo Chicken."

As Zakarian prepares the marinade, Ng raised eyebrows when the chef used low sodium soy sauce instead of a regular one.

While he seems to have nailed other ingredients like white vinegar, brown sugar, and cracked black pepper (though Ng noted that peppercorn is the usual choice), things started going awry when Zakarian added the Peru-native habanero.

"Habanero doesn't even grow in the Philippines, what are you doing?" Ng said. "Usually, Filipino food isn't spicy. But if you want it spicy, use Filipino chili."

Ng also questioned the overwhelming amount of white onions versus the garlic, saying the traditional recipe doesn't use onion, and that the garlic should be plenty.

Zakarian's recipe states that there are two cups of thinly sliced onions and two cloves of thinly sliced garlic. He also used two pieces of bay leaves, and used four cups of water vis-a-vis a quarter cup each of soy sauce and vinegar from the marinade earlier.

"Use the right amount. Not the White amount," Ng said.

What ultimately blew Ng's top was when Zakarian put chopped flat-leaf parsley and a wedge of lemon as garnish.

"Uncle Roger is so upset, I put my leg down from chair. Parsley don't belong in Asian food. You're not making pasta."

Many commenters who said they're Filipinos agreed with Ng's comments.

"As a Filipino, seeing Uncle Roger's knowledge with Filipino food makes me wanna call him 'Tito Roger,'" one user said.

"Uncle Roger knows Filipino adobo very well. I am impressed!" another user said. "And yeah, no Filipino would put parsley in his/her adobo."

"I'd like to see Uncle Roger cook his version of Adobo," another one said.

Food Network's original video has also been getting comments following Ng's video.

"Honestly, please don't say it's traditional if you're gonna change stuff in it. Or at least provide a disclaimer that it's not 100% traditional," one user said.

"While I appreciate the featuring of Adobo, I doubt anyone uses Onions, Parsley and Habanero into their Adobo. Better if you have a Filipino Chef show you how it's made," another user said.

"This is probably how Italians feel when they see people making Carbonara online," another user wrote.

In Tikim: Essays on Philippine Food and Culture, renowned food critic and historian Doreen Fernandez said adobo uses as basic ingredients vinegar, garlic, bay leaves, and peppercorn, with soy sauce as a "latter-day addition." Proteins range from pork, chicken, and squid. There's also adobo kangkong.

While it's believed to have been derived from Spain's adobado (meat cooked in wine and onions) or Mexico's adobado (a type of sauce with common condiments like chiles, pimentos, garlic, tomatoes, bay leaf, cloves, lemon juice), Fernandez, citing food historian Raymond Sokolov, said it's probably the name that colonizers gave to the dish because of how it resembles their own.

"The Philippine adobo is Spanish in name only: the Spaniards/Mexicans saw the dish the Filipinos were already cooking, recognized its similarity to theirs, and called it 'adobo de los naturales,' which are the words used by dictionary-maker Pedro de San Buenaventura (1613)."