Pork Adobo made with succulent pork belly braised in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and onions. A delicious balance of salty and savory, this hearty stew is Philippine's national dish for a good reason!
The Filipino adobo is a cooking process or technique where meat, seafood, or indigenous vegetables are braised in a mixture of soy sauce and vinegar with aromatics such as garlic, onions, peppercorns, and bay leaves.
As many and as diverse are the islands and dialects in the Philippines are the many ways adobo is prepared. With atsuete, in coconut milk or sweetened with pineapples are just a few versions of this classic Filipino national dish.
Some like the hearty stew with more sauce, while others prefer it simmered dry. Others like it slightly tangy, while some prefer it on the sweet side.
This recipe is how I like mine, with beautifully seared pork, a rich and thick sauce to spoon over mounds of rice, and enough grease to warrant a visit to a cardiologist.
Meat cut to use
I prefer to use pork belly in my adobo as I like its melt-in-your-mouth tenderness, but you can substitute pork shoulder which, although a leaner cut, has enough ribbons of fat to bring equally delicious results.
Other cuts such as pork chops, legs, hocks, and ribs are also good options for slow cooking.
- Cut the meat in uniform size to ensure even cooking.
- Do not overcrowd the pan when browning the pork so they'll get a good sear and not steam. Use a wide pan or cook in batches if necessary. Properly searing the meat before adding the braising liquid is an important step as it gives the dish an appetizing color and incredible depth of flavor.
- Cook off the strong vinegar flavor by allowing it to boil uncovered and without stirring for a good few minutes before adding the soy sauce and water.
- If you want to season the dish with more salt than called for in the recipe, I suggest adding it during the last few minutes of cooking to correctly gauge taste. The flavor of the dish will concentrate as the sauce reduces.
- Potatoes and hard-boiled eggs are a delicious way to extend servings. To help the potatoes from falling apart, pan-fry the cut potatoes first before adding them to the stew.
- Adobong baboy is best enjoyed with piping hot steamed rice for lunch or dinner. It's also common to find it on breakfast menus such as an adosilog meal (adobo, fried rice, and fried egg).
- While it is mostly served as a viand, adobo meat is also used as filling for bread such as siopao or pandesal.
The adobo cooking process was initially a way to preserve food, with pre-colonial Filipinos preparing meat and seafood in vinegar and salt to prolong shelf life. It's a great make-ahead dish and in fact, tastes better after a day or two when the flavors have melded.
- Cool completely before transferring to a container with a tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months.
- Reheat in a wide pan over low heat to an internal temperature of 165 F or in the microwave at 2 to 3-minute intervals until completely heated.
- Leftovers can also be turned into delicious fried rice. Shred the cooked meat and toss with day-old steamed rice in a hot pan along with a few tablespoons of the sauce.
More adobo recipes to try
- 2 pounds pork belly, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 onion, peeled and sliced thinly
- 1 head garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 cup vinegar
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 1 cup water
- In a bowl, combine pork, onions, garlic, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Place in the refrigerator and marinate for about 30 minutes.
- In a wide, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add meat mixture and cook, turning occasionally, until pork is lightly browned.
- Add vinegar and allow to boil, uncovered and without stirring, for about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add soy sauce and water and stir to combine. Allow to a boil for another 3 to 5 minutes.
- Lower heat, cover, and simmer for about 40 to 50 minutes or until meat is fork-tender and sauce is reduced. Serve hot.