Parsley and habaneros? Nigel Ng’s Uncle Roger disses Food Network’s take on adobo

Screenshot: Nigel Ng (YouTube)
Screenshot: Nigel Ng (YouTube)

Looks like Uncle Roger isn’t only absurdly passionate about fried rice — he’s a purist when it comes to Filipino adobo, too. In his latest video, he fiercely defends the dish from the absurd liberties a chef on the Food Network took with recreating the classic Filipino meal.

In a video aptly titled UNCLE ROGER HATE FOOD NETWORK ADOBO, Malaysian comedian Nigel Ng, in his Uncle Roger persona, disses celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian (who was once of the stars of Iron Chef America) over his departures from the traditional recipe for the rather straightforward dish, as well as his sparse use of garlic — in typical Uncle Roger fashion.

Adobo, one of the Philippines’ most ubiquitous dishes, is a protein — typically chicken or pork (or both) — braised in soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, bay leaf, and peppercorns.

“What, parsley in Filipino adobo?!” Uncle Roger cries out in the opening of the video. “This dish have many variation, everybody make it different way, so it hard to fuck up. But this nephew Geoffrey, he wearing suit to make Asian food, haiyaa, Uncle Roger don’t have good feelings about this.”

It seems that Uncle Roger’s suspicions were right. While Zakarian begins his adobo marinade the traditional way with soy sauce (albeit low sodium), vinegar, and some brown sugar to temper the acidity, the celebrity chef marks his departure from the traditional with the addition of habaneros to the mixture.

Haiyaa, habaneros don’t even grow in the Philippines!” Uncle Roger complains. “Usually, Filipino food not even spicy, no need to put chili in there but if you want to put chili, use Filipino chili.”

Uncle Roger then calls out the addition of onion — which is typically not included in a traditional recipe — and the sparse amount of garlic used in the pan.

“That’s it? That’s all the garlic you use? That too little… nephew suit guy, when Uncle Roger make his adobo, I use like 10 or 20 whole cloves of garlic, just smush the whole clove and throw in pot,” he admonishes. “Use the right amount, not the white amount!”

“For Asian cooking, garlic is like money; it’s never enough,” he later quips.

The comedian also calls out Zakarian for putting too much water in the pan for the braise. “It’s going to be so watery later… this adobo gonna be so bland,” he remarks.

Later, Zakarian serves the watery adobo with a side of lemon to Uncle Roger’s chagrin.

“What?! Nobody eats adobo with lemon… what do you mean you always serve with lemon? Where are you eating your adobo, Jamie Oliver’s restaurant, is it?” he jabs.

Ng’s Filipino fans seemed to approve of Uncle Roger’s commentary on adobo.

“As a Filipino, seeing Uncle Roger’s knowledge with Filipino food makes me wanna call him Tito Roger,” one commented, referring to the Filipino word for uncle.

“Honorary ‘Tito’ Roger,” another chimed in. “He’s so right about the garlic. Adobo needs a shit ton of garlic.”

“I’m pretty surprised that Uncle Roger knows Filipino adobo, let alone a general knowledge of the local cuisine. He’s right, most of our dishes are not spicy,” one said.

“Seeing how watery that adobo was made me curl up into my body. The lemon was the final straw lol,” another commented.

Even non-Filipino adobo fans agreed with his take on the matter.

“I’ve lived in the Philippines for a couple of years and I’m no chef whatsoever but even I gasped when he poured all that water in.. all the rice was swimming in the soup,” one wrote.

“My wife cooked me adobo the first day after we were married almost 49 years ago. You could say that for a white guy I am pretty much an adobo expert by now. No, this is not ‘traditional’ adobo. The parts he got right are far too outweighed by what he screwed up,” another mentioned.

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