I met my husband, Eder, when we worked in the same Spanish restaurant. I went on to work in small American restaurants and my Basque husband went to Nobu, where he learned to speak English (and a little Japanese) while making friends with the international staff. The bulk of the cooks were Israeli and Filipino and for family meal they would make Filipino adobo, a vinegar-based pork or chicken (or sometimes both) stew. So Eder would make it at home. We traded off cooking as our schedules became less flexible, and I started making it as well. Before we knew it, this adobo became one of our home staples.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the chicken with the granulated sugar and a little salt. Add to the pan, skin side down, and cook until
Add the onion, garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves to the pan and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to pick up the bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the ginger and cook for 1 minute. Add the scallions and sauté briefly, until softened. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes. Add the sherry and cook, stirring to make sure nothing is stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Stir in the fish sauce, soy sauce, and rice vinegar and return the chicken to the pan. Sprinkle with the cilantro. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 hour, until the meat is falling off the bone.
The chicken can be made up to this point, cooled, and refrigerated for up to a day. Gently reheat over medium-low heat just to a simmer to serve.
To serve, stir the brown sugar and