Tangy and subtly sweet with that caramelized flavor from the vinegar, this Balsamic pork adobo with pineapple is a fantastic addition to your holiday meal.
Adobo for the holidays? I used to think too that that was weird. But apparently, adobo and menudo are favorite Christmas dishes for two groups of people:
1. Those who would rather not splurge on pricey food like ham and queso de bola (that’s Edam for non-Filipino readers);
2. Filipinos living abroad who terribly miss dishes they grew up with back home and want loads of comfort food to add nostalgia to the occasion.
Even you who think that adobo is too ordinary to be served on special occasions will change your mind once you’ve tried Alex‘s Balsamic pork adobo with pineapple. Yes, adobo can be tweaked and dressed up without losing its essence.
How did Alex come up with such a twist? I honestly don’t know what inspired her. But I remember the night she cooked it. Sam and I had gone shopping for new plates and bowls and, when we got home, the aroma that greeted us as we opened the front door was amazing. Dinner (for us omnivores) was simmering on the stove but we had to wait some fifteen minutes more for the pork to reach that perfect stage of tenderness.
Why does this adobo recipe work?
For starters, balsamic vinegar is milder than the ubiquitous cane vinegar that we often use to cook adobo. It provides just enough tang while giving the meat a lovely color. For cooks who like to add a little sugar to their adobo to cut down the acidity of the vinegar, you can omit the sugar when using balsamic vinegar.
The saltiness is provided by patis (fermented fish sauce). Only a tablespoonful or so of soy sauce was added toward the end of cooking time to give the dish a richer color.
The pineapple tidbits give off a lovely contrast to the salty-tangy meat.
Balsamic Pork Adobo With Pineapple
- 500 grams pork belly
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 to 2 shallots
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar (you may need more)
- 2 tablespoons patis (fermented fish sauce) (you may need more)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 cup pineapple tidbits
- sliced scallions to garnish
Rinse the pork and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Drying the meat is essential for the browning stage.
Cut the pork into two-inch pieces.
Smash the garlic and discard the skins. Finely chop or mince the garlic.
Peel and finely chop the shallots.
Pour the oil into a heavy pan (a fryer, wide and not too tall, is recommended). Tilt the pan around to allow the oil to coat the entire bottom.
Spread the pork in the pan. Leave undisturbed for a few minutes to allow to brown.
Flip the pork over and sear the other side.
When the pork starts to render fat, add the garlic, shallots, pepper and bay leaves to the pork. Continue browning, stirring often, until the the pork is lightly caramelized.
Pour in the Balsamic vinegar and patis. Add half a cup of water and stir. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover the pan tightly and slow cook the pork until tender.
Check once in a while. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. If the liquid evaporates too fast, add another quarter cup of water and continue cooking. Repeat if the pork takes longer to cook.
When the pork is done, drizzle in the soy sauce and stir.
Throw in the pineapple tidbits.
Cover the pan and simmer for another ten minutes.
Sprinkle sliced scallions over the Balsamic pork adobo with pineapple and serve.