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23 May 2011

Philippine Pork Adobo

As soon as the first beautiful banana leaf came out, I snipped it away.  If only my plants could uproot themselves from the soil, I think they would all run away shrieking as soon as they see me lurking around with a pair of shears.  I feel like the sinister antagonist of a suspense film of humans against plants.

Why a banana leaf?  Today, I decided to make a Philippine dish called adobo.  It is pork (or chicken or both) cooked in soy sauce, coconut vinegar, peppercorns & garlic. 

Oftentimes, I am asked by our friends & my husband's relatives about the Philippine cuisine.  It's a world apart from Italian food and one step closer to Sicilian food.  Maybe that's why my husband's parents and I enjoy exchanging food stories.  When they visited the Philippines for the first time, they couldn't stop themselves from eating.  The similarity between Sicilian and Filipino food is the intensity of the flavors. 

Pork adobo is one of the Philippine dishes that I enjoy cooking because everyone loves it.  It has a strong taste of soy sauce contending with the acidity of the lemon (or vinegar as it classically done).  I don't like cooking with vinegar so I substitute it with loads of lemon.

It is usually served with plain boiled rice but I like to cook the rice on the emptied pan where I cooked the adobo.  It is just how my father loved flavoring his rice.

I grew up in a family who converges in the kitchen after midnight.  It's dinner the second time around, only we eat what were left from the previous meals or we cook something quick and easy with plain boiled rice.  Always with rice because that's how the Philippine cuisine is.  White rice is staple.  I remember my father fondly, reheating the adobo in a saucepan and after taking away the pork or chicken, would put the cold, leftover rice and cook it with the remnants of the adobo sauce in the pan.  It was delicious!  It was special.   These are just memories now that remain  in my heart.  My father had been gone for 12 years.

More Philippine Recipes:

Arroz a la Cubana (Cuban Rice), The Philippine Way  
Arroz Caldo (Philippine Chicken Congee)  
Grilled Fish Wrapped With Banana Leaves  

Philippine Pork Adobo

Serves 3 - 4
  • 1/2 kilo pork belly, cubed
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 3/4 - 1 cup water
  • 1/2 vinegar (the classic way) or lemon (which is my way)
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 laurel or bay leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, halved
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh tomatoes, chopped (optional)
  1. Prepare the marinade of soy sauce, peppercorns, lemon or vinegar, sugar & 1 clove garlic.  Adjust the taste by adding more lemon if it's too salty.  Leave pork in the marinade for about 15 minutes.
  2. Boil the rice with water.  Simmer with the lowest fire until cooked.
  3. Boil the pork in a saucepan with the marinade.  Add the water & laurel leaves.  Cover and simmer on low fire until the sauce is reduced by half.  Strain the pork and transfer to a bowl.  Transfer the sauce to another bowl.  With the empty saucepan, pour some oil.  Add the other crushed garlic.  When it starts to turn golden, put back the pork.  Sautè on medium fire for about 10 minutes.  Add half of the sauce and keep on sautèing for another 5 minutes.  Transfer to a serving bowl.  
  4. Without turning off the fire, transfer the cooked rice.  Toss around the pan.  Add the remaining sauce and mix well.  Cook for about 3 minutes.
  5. Serve the rice with the pork.  You can also serve it with fresh tomatoes.