Sunday, January 20, 2013

How to Cook Filipino Adobo

A staple of every Filipino household is adobo, a tart and salty braised meat, served with steamed and sticky white rice.  There are a myriad of adobo recipes, and my parents immigrated to America from a northern region of the Philippines called Pampanga, where the adobo sauce is simply bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, soy sauce and vinegar.  Also every Filipina housewife cooks her adobo to suit tastes individual to her family, and I remember an aunt cooking both pork and chicken in her stew.  I like my adobo very garlicky and a little more salty than sour and the sauce I pour on my rice less watery, which this recipe reflects.  Adobo if cooked authentically is not very heart healthy, and so to lessen the fat and the calories, I drain or skim off a lot of grease (though you need some for flavor and viscosity) and use low sodium soy sauce.  I cook this dish ahead on Sunday to serve my husband and me for a few nights of leftovers over the weeknights.

I start by chopping 6 to 8 cloves of garlic with peppercorns (I like them cracked and fine rather than whole):

In a dutch oven, I saute two pork spareribs and four chicken thighs on medium high heat until the skin is crispy.  I don't bother adding oil to the pan because I cook the meat with skin side and fat side down to render some of its grease.  

In the meantime while my meat is frying, I pour into a measuring cup, 3/4 cup light soy sauce and 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar.  Most people use 1/2 cup soy sauce and 1/2 cup vinegar, but as I mentioned earlier, I like my adobo less sour.

At this point you would also add another cup of water for a total of 2 cups of cooking liquid.  I like to add a bit more richness to my sauce by adding a cup of water with a teaspoon of chicken bouillon mixed in.

Next I drain the grease from the meat (which saves you having to skim it later from your stew) and toss the chopped garlic and peppercorns and 2 to 4 bay leaves into the frying meat.
And then the soy sauce, vinegar, and water or chicken broth.
Then simmer for 30 to 45 minutes until the sauce is reduced and the meat is cooked.  Because I like my sauce of a thicker consistency, I open the lid a bit to release steam.  Burn a scented candle and turn on your stove's fan because this stew's aroma is pungent.

I like my sauce syrupy rather than watery, and so I remove the meat and cook the liquid down.

Done!  My sunday lunch of Anna's adobo and steamed brown rice.