Chicken adobo and rice

The clinking and clanking of plates and bric-a-brac could be heard clear across the room as I rummaged through the cupboards.

"Are you looking for anything?" asked Ye, my roommate of a few weeks.

"Would we happen to have any measuring cups?"

"You can use the mugs in the drawer. What are you cooking this time?"

"Rice. Let's see... Gah, this rice cooker is too big. And it doesn't come with instructions."

"Use a pot."

"Okay... Hmm. "Step 1: Add rice. Step 2: Add water. How much rice?"

"It doesn't really matter, as long as the water level is 1 centimeter above the rice."

What did one centimeter look like again? I knew other Filipinos have this magic trick involving the joints of one's fingers, but I never quite figured it out and I didn't know if the rule was valid given my small hands. Resisting the temptation to fetch the ruler from my cute pink stationery set, I decided to eyeball the measurements. There, just about right. Oh, wait... "Should I wash the rice first?"

"I usually do."

Swished, swished. Poured. Swished. Poured. Swished. Poured. Gave up and refilled pot to former level. "Mmkay. Then...?"

"Boil it, and then turn the heat way down until it absorbs all the water."

So I did.

I thought it would be a good idea to try out chicken adobo while waiting, and I had recently splurged on a pack of chicken breast fillets. I rummaged some more for vinegar (this strange Chinese thing that smelled nothing like the vinegar I remembered seeing back home) and soy sauce. I had the foresight to grab bay leaves and garlic on my last grocery trip, so it was easy to throw everything together.

- 2 pieces chicken - 4 cloves garlic, crushed - 2 tablespoons vinegar - 2 teaspoons soy sauce - 1 bay leaf - 1/4 teaspoon pepper - 1/2 cup water

I boiled that, too, and then simmered it until I felt confident about the chicken being more-or-less cooked (erring on the side of more, I hope) and the sauce was reduced to a fraction. By simmered, I mean that I alternated between accidentally reboiling it and getting some satisfyingly mild bubbling action.

I didn't get to try the adobo, so I don't know if it's really adobo or some weird thing. I did get to try the rice, though, so I feel pretty good about that. Of course, as I started cooking at around 9, I got _pretty_ hungry by the time the rice was done. The chicken didn't inspire confidence at that point, so I did what any sane, starving student would do: I raided the refrigerator for something to eat with the rice. Pastrami may be a strange companion to rice, but I thought it tasted like a rather expensive version of vienna sausages.

We'll see how the adobo turns out tomorrow evening. If I survive, I'll have joined the ranks of adobo-cooking Filipinos around the world!

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