Many, many months ago, my good friend, Marylou, gave me her recipe for traditional, Filipino adobo, and for many, many months it sat, untouched, in my email box. The ingredients were simple enough - pork or chicken, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic - but the method of simmering the meat for an hour, then browning it in a skillet, was foreign to me.
I was tempted to disregard Marylou's exacting instructions and take the more familiar route - sear, then braise. Tradition won the day. I defrosted a couple of pork shoulder steaks I bought on sale at Safeway for less than two bucks a piece, and got to work. I was transferring the meat to the skillet when I realized I was basically making carnitas - duh!
Marylou's recipe was easy, with minimal prep work. Although her instructions said to let the meat marinate for 30 minutes, other online recipes called for a minimum of three hours. I let it sit for an hour. Even then, the adobo only took a little over two hours to make, including an hour for simmering.
The adobo was tangy and flavorful with a bit of heat - an instant family hit. I served it over long-grain, white rice with half a bag of TJ's organic baby spinach leaves I sauteed with a dollop of vegetable oil and dash of salt. We liked the adobo so much, next week I'm going to try it with a combination of pork and chicken.
Traditional Filipino Adobo
1 1/2 lb. pork shoulder or butt cut into 1 1/2" cubes
1/2 c. vinegar
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. salt
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 small bay leaf
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. sugar
1 c. water
2 tbsp. cooking oil
Combine all ingredients, except cooking oil, in a pot and let stand for at least 30 minutes. Simmer covered for at least 1 hour or until meat is tender. Drain and reserve sauce.
Heat cooking oil in skillet. Brown meat on all sides. Transfer to a serving dish. Pour off all remaining oil from skillet. Add reserved sauce and cook for a minute or two, scraping all browned bits sticking to pan. Pour sauce over meat and serve.
Variation: May be made with chicken or a combination of chicken and pork.
Some online recipes said Filipino adobo should have some heat to it and called for a jalapeno or peppercorns, which are removed before serving. I tossed in a few dashes of red pepper flakes, and it turned out great.
$3.72 - 2 lbs. pork shoulder
$1.00 - organic baby spinach