Adobo (not to be confused with the seasoning blend sold by that name) is a sort of stew in a salty/tangy/sweet sauce. It can be made with beef, chicken or pork. My recipe is authentic as it was given to me by a girl whose mom made it for the family. I made it once and took it to the International Dinner at church and was told it was “just like my mom’s” so I guess it’s authentic. However, I have been told that other recipes roast or broil the meat after stewing to achieve a sticky glaze. I have never tried it that way.
If you are going to make pork adobo, buy a pork shoulder roast. These are big so you can plan enough adobo for the family, or cut the meat into smaller portions and use one for adobo and the others for other dishes. You might also find country style ribs for sale. These make good adobo too, cut into chunks or left whole. The pork will have to cook quite a while to become tender. Plan on an hour or so at a low simmer. Using chicken, your cooking time will only be about 25 – 35 minutes.
As with most dishes, I learned to make this then started making adjustments, substitutions and alterations almost immediately. Bill likes to add some beer or wine when he makes it. I am satisfied with water, if needed. I figure everybody cooks according to their own tastes and what is on hand. If the food is good, why worry about it?
(Measurements are approximate)
Pork or Chicken – two or three chicken leg/thigh pieces is enough for two with maybe some leftover. Likewise two or three country ribs or a 1/3 to ¼ piece of a big pork shoulder is enough for two. If you want leftovers, double the amount of meat.
½ - ¾ cups soy sauce (use up the packets you have from all that Chinese take-out)
3 – 4 tablespoons Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce
3 – 4 tablespoons rice wine or shaoxing wine
3 – 4 tablespoons vinegar – use rice, wine, cider, plain or Asian vinegar
dark soy, sweet soy, mirin, beer, wine, or water. Total liquid should be a cup or more.
1 onion, sliced
Several cloves garlic, smashed or minced
A fat pinch of sugar
A fat pinch of basil
Fresh ground pepper
A pinch of red pepper flakes
Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil in a pot that is narrow and deep. You will want the meat to be covered by the liquid as much as possible. Add the meat and brown, adding the herbs and spices, then add the liquid (I mix them all together in a cup or bowl and pour them into the pot) and sugar. Give it a good stir and bring to a boil. Lower the heat as low as you can, cover the pot and simmer about an hour for pork or beef, half that time for chicken. When tender uncover the pot partway and turn up the heat a little. This will cook off some of the liquid and the sauce will thicken. Be careful not to let it burn.
Meanwhile, make some rice. Follow the instruction for your rice cooker or do this. Place rice in a heavy bottomed pot. Each cup of rice will make two to three cups when cooked.
Optional – add some oil and cook over low heat a few minutes until the rice becomes chalky looking. Now add water, chicken broth or a combination of both until the water is two finger widths (or about an inch or so) above the level of the rice. Bring to a simmer and cook until the liquid reaches the level of the rice. Give it a good stir, cover and lower the heat and leave it to cook for 20 minutes. Do not uncover the pan! Turn off the heat and leave the rice to steam about 5 minutes more. You can move it to a cool burner if you wish.
When the adobo is ready, uncover the rice and stir to fluff it up. Serve the adobe and sauce over the rice.
If you have leftovers, you might wish to chill the sauce in a separate container. The excess fat will rise to the top and can be skimmed off before reheating with the meat. Or you can pack the adobe, sauce and rice in separate containers for easy reheating at lunch time.
If you have too much leftover rice, be sure to make garlic fried rice the next day – or make extra and plan on it!
Quotable quotes; in the category Be Sure To Let Me Know Which Pot To Avoid!
“I guess I fell into cooking.” Bobby Flay