Adobo — the dish that singlehandedly brought Filipino cuisine to the attention of the world. A salty, sour and spicy stew, it derives its uniquely strong flavor and heady aroma from the combination of vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, pepper and bay leaves.
Pork belly, with the rind (skin), is traditional for cooking adobo. If you have access to good quality pork, choose pork belly with the thinnest layer of fat. The marbled fat is what makes adobo what it is but there is no reason why you can’t cut down on the amount of fat. Other pork cuts may have even less fat but too little fat, or none at all, will affect the texture and quality of the cooked adobo.
Traditional recipes include chunks of liver but I now prefer to puree the liver to create a thick and rich sauce. For an even more exotic experience, I garnish my adobo with toasted garlic bits and finely sliced onion leaves.
- 1 and ½ k. of pork belly, skin on
- 1 whole garlic, crushed
- 1 tbsp. of peppercorns, crushed
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ c. of vinegar
- ½ c. of soy sauce
- 5 whole chicken livers, with the hearts
- ¼ c. soy sauce
- ¼ c. vinegar
- fried toasted garlic
- 2 tbsps. of finely sliced onion leaves
- Place the pork cubes in a wide shallow pan, add the crushed garlic, crushed peppercorns and bay leaves Pour in ¼ cup vinegar. Set the heat on high and bring to the boil without stirring.
- Continue boiling, uncovered, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the pork starts to render fat.
- Stir and cook until the edges of the pork start to brown.
- With the heat still on high, pour in ¼ cup soy sauce and about a cup and a half of water.
- Bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer the adobo for an hour to an hour and a half or until the pork is very tender and the liquid considerably reduced.
- While the pork simmers, boil the chicken livers in ¼ cup of vinegar and ¼ c. of soy sauce. Then, lower the heat, cover and simmer until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Cool.
- Put the cooked livers in the blender, pour in the cooking liquid and process until smooth. If you prefer a more textured sauce, mash the livers in the cooking liquid by hand with the use of a fork or vegetable masher.
- When the pork is done, add the liver sauce. The sauce will be thick so you may have to scrape the sides and bottom of the blender.
- Stir the liver sauce into the pork mixture. Cover and simmer for another five minutes.
- To serve the adobo, transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle the garlic bits on top followed by the finely sliced onion leaves.