The first Filipino dish I learned how to make. It’s pretty simple, really – just some meat simmered in a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and spices – but what you are left with is a magical, flavorful stew. Some people crave macaroni and cheese; I crave adobo.
Pork is the best for this dish. It gets a bad rap for some reason, but, to paraphrase Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction, pork just tastes goooooood. Chicken works well, too.
My dad always told me not to touch the meat while it’s simmering until the vinegar is “cooked.” Vinegar? Cooked? I didn’t get it either. But if you smell the adobo just as it begins to simmer, you’ll notice this acrid, sharp, sensation in the nose and a vinegary aroma. As the adobo continues to simmer, this aroma begins to mellow. Then – and only then – can you even begin to touch it.
That was the secret to yummy adobo, he says. And now, I'm sharing his secret with you. Thank me later.
It may sound like a silly superstition, but it really works.
If you’re reading this, and you’re Filipino, you may have a different version. Some people, once the meat is cooked, fry the meat until it’s dry or something. I say, why bother? The mixture of meat, rice, and adobo sauce is nothing short of heaven.
1 pound or so of chicken, pork, or a combination thereof (pork is best)
5-6 cloves of garlic, crushed
2-3 whole, dried bay leaves
½-cup soy sauce (I prefer Kikkoman or Aloha Shoyu brands)*
½-cup apple cider vinegar*
Lots of freshly ground pepper
Place meat in a non-reactive soup pot. Sprinkle with garlic cloves, bay leaves. Pour soy sauce and vinegar over the meat and liberally sprinkle with black pepper.
Simmer on high until mixture comes to a boil, then reduce to medum-low heat and cover. Do not stir until meat is tender and sharp, vinegary smell mellows out.
Serve over white, steamed rice, of course.
Makes awesome leftovers.
* Amounts of vinegar and soy sauce are approximate; depending on the amount of meat you use, you may need more or less than ½-cup. The rule of thumb is you want the soy sauce/vinegar mixture to come up to no more than halfway up the side of the meat. Don’t cover the meat with the mixture – your adobo come out too salty.