Adobo is usually the first dish that every Filipino learns to cook. This is of course because it is a very common and very popular dish here in the Philippines. It is almost considered a national dish. It is simple and very easy to make, and yet very flavorful and tasty, perfectly paired with a steaming bowl of rice. Every Filipino family has his/their own version of Adobo, often with the secret recipe handed down throughout generations.
Typically, the dish is made from pork or chicken or a combination of both. It is slowly cooked in soy sauce, vinegar, crushed garlic, bay leaf and black peppercorns. Here, the variation starts. Some versions do not have soy sauce, their dish is simply flavored with vinegar. Some versions have sauces, some are browned in the oven or pan-fried afterwards to get the desirable crisped edges. Some versions contain only plain meat. Other versions can have vegetables like eggplants or spinach or string beans added. Some versions add more herbs and spices like star anise, or the red colored achiote (achuete). Some do not. I have heard of adobo with gata (coconut milk) and chillies (for those who prefer the spicier kick). I also know of a version with pineapple juice (and crush pineapples) added for the sweetish-sourish taste. Of course, with all the different versions, no adobo would taste and look the same.
So what makes a true adobo? Surprisingly, it is all of the above. Every Filipino would know just by smell alone that the dish is an adobo dish, no matter what version it is. Perhaps it is because of the smell, but then perhaps because it is a dish that defines the Filipino!
For my family, a good-tasting adobo is a dish where none of the spice flavors dominates but rather the taste is a delicate balance of all the ingredients. It has the perfect blend of saltiness and flavor with a hint of sweetness and sourishness.
Here is my version of the adobo, adopted from my grandmother's cooking and my father-in-law's version:
1 kilo pork belly, cut into serving sized cubes
4 T cooking oil
8 T garlic, minced (or more if preferred)
4 T sugar
4 T cracked peppercorn
1 and 1/2 C soy sauce
1/2 C rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
1 C water
200 gms golden mushrooms
200 gms straw mushrooms, sliced
Salt and sugar to taste
cilantro for garnish, optional
1. Heat the oil in a wok or a cooking pan. Add in the sugar, cook at low heat. Wait for the sugar to caramelize.
2. Add in the meat cubes and stir the meat, so that the cubes will be evenly coated and browned with the caramelized sugar. Add in the soy sauce, peppercorns, garlic. Stir to mix evenly.
3. When the mixture boils, add in the vinegar. Do not stir until the mixture boils again. Accordingly, if you stir, the sauce will have a bitter aftertaste. But I have always followed this instruction so I cannot confirm if this is true or not. :)
4. When the mixture boils, add in the cup of water. Let boil again and simmer for an hour and a half to two hours. Check in once in a while to see if the sauce is drying up. My kids like their adobo saucy, so I add in lots of water. (Alternately, start in the morning and just drop the contents of this pot in the slow cooker and you will have a wonderful smelling dish come dinner time).
5. Add in the mushrooms before serving, and let cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Adjust taste with saklt and sugar, depending o your preference. Isn't this dish versatile?
6. Garnish with spring onions or cilantro before serving. Serve hot with rice.
Sharing this Filipino dish with the World Food Day event launched by Val of More than Burnt Toast and Ivy of Kopiaste. This event features dishes that represents our own countries, so that we can have a conga line of international dishes to feed the world!
World Food Day brings to our attention the plight of 862 million undernourished people around the world ...even in our own backyards!! This is sadly a true condition that is happening here in this country. Do you know that many - as in millions of children in this country are dropping out of school because of hunger?
Global warming and the biofuel boom are threatening to push the number of hungry even higher in the decades to come. Add to these problems are the worldwide financial meltdown, and the rising food and energy costs. By having more information, by raising awareness, and finding solutions, we can combat hunger around the world together!!!! We need a plan of attack!!! To find out more about what you can do in your area... visit the World Food Day site here .
This is a worthy cause to support. One earth, one people, one dish at a time.