Wednesday, August 1, 2007


Pork adobo
This was the first Filipino dish I learnt from my late mother-in-law who would surely be called a foodie if she is still around today. She was a fantastic cook and one special lady, who was very passionate about her food and cooking. That passion has definitely rubbed off strongly on all her four children (three sons and a daughter) because they all love to eat and cook. She was always keen to try out new dishes. It was really fun when we combed the many alleys and 'pasar malam' (night market) of KL looking for laksa, soto, popiah or that special cendol way back when we were stationed there and she came for visits. Despite this fondness for various fare, her cooking techniques and style has always maintained the dishes' traditional and ethnic authenticity.
Adobo, perhaps, is the most popular and most distinguished among all Filipino cuisines. It is eaten by virtually all Filipinos, regardless of social standing, home province or region. I think this dish could very well be the national dish of the Philippines.
This dish originates from the northern region of the Philippines and that was where my father-in-law came from more than 50 years ago. Other then Tagalog, he also speaks Ilukano which is a dialect originated from northern Luzon (Ilocos regions), the region where he was born.
My MIL would soak the meat overnight in a marinade of soy sauce, vinegar, crushed garlic and black peppercorns creating this distinct, pungent aroma that permeated the whole fridge. The next day, she would simmer the meat slowly until the marinade thickens into a sauce. She would either stop at this point or go on to pan-fry the meat to get the desirable crisped edges. For me, I usually skip the last step unless the dish is going to be kept out of the fridge for a long while like at a picnic or on a long trip because the frying kinda drys out the meat. We all prefer the meat still juicy with it's tangy gravy...yum.
The standard accompaniment to adobo -- and ultimate comfort meal for many Filipinos, especially the Ilocanos-- are mung bean stew (my FIL's favourite) and lots of white rice.
I like to serve it with a side dish of salsa (diced tomato, red onion and cilantro seasoned with freshly ground pepper, a squeeze of lime juice and salt).
Adobo is simple and requires few basic ingredients only. This dish improves in flavour with time and has a long shelf-life due to the use of vinegar which inhibits bacterial growth, very similar to the Japanese sushi rice.
There are many variations of adobo. The most traditional would be the pork adobo, followed by chicken adobo or the combination of the pork and chicken. Adobo made with pork and string beans is also common.
Make a fragrant fried rice with the leftovers or stuff a pita bread with the meat, some lettuce and salsa for lunch the next day ...

Pork adobo
Serve 4-6

1 kg pork, belly or shoulder, cut into 1/2" chunks
1 head garlic, cloves, crushed lightly
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable or corn oil
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce, optional
1. Marinate pork with garlic, soy sauce, pepper and vinegar; let stand at room temperature 2 hours or leave in the fridge overnight.

2. Put into a pot and on high heat bring it to the boil.
3. Lower heat and simmer slowly until pork is tender, about 30 minutes.

4. If the gravy is too thin, turn up the heat up until the gravy thickens.

5. Transfer pieces of garlic from pot to separate pan and fry in hot oil until brown. Add pork pieces to garlic with a dash of dark soy sauce and fry until crispy. Drain. Add gravy back to fried pork and garlic.
6. Serve with hot rice and salsa.

Adobo before the frying

Note: My MIL would throw in 2-3 red and green big chillies for the aroma and color mid way through the simmering.



daisyfused said...

mi, i want chicken wing adobo!

Anonymous said...

Yup, that's exactly what heather said - to die for with chicken wings.

Me? I like the porkies, i like the glistening fatty bits (my wife will smack me for this). I especially like it when there is nicely fried peppercorns that stick to the fatty bits. The peppercorns give out that small explosions of fiery flavour as you crunch on them along with the pork.

It gives new meaning to the phrase - chewing the fat. :p


The Drool Team said...

Do it urself, heather, its so easy.

Hahaha, Chan, can tell how much u love ur pork.

Anonymous said...

Oinks the way to go!!

Anonymous said...

When are we going to Bambangan Heaven?

The Drool Team said...

U a Sabahan? or do u get bambangan in the west also?

Star said...

this dish is very similar to one of my country's famous dish too. But i believe that our dish adopted from China long long time yum...i love the pork too, never try with chicken wings...might try one day.

The Drool Team said...

Thanks for the Bourdain book Star, it was so thoughtful of you.

Hubport said...

I like the Pork Adobo and I'm going to have one this lunch.