Filipino Pork Adobo: How to Make This Comforting Dish
Filipino pork adobo is a popular dish in the Philippines made with melt-in-your-mouth braised pork belly, vinegar, soy sauce, pepper, and bay leaves. It is tender and so comforting over a big bowl of rice!
What is Filipino Adobo?
Adobo is a Filipino method of cooking that involves braising meats low and slow in vinegar, soy sauce, pepper, and bay leaves. Chicken and pork adobo are arguably the most popular Filipino dishes. It’s salty, tangy, peppery, slightly sweet, and super tender. Every family has a different way of making it. While I didn’t grow up eating this, I did marry into a Filipino family, and this is my husband’s comfort food! Adobo was the first Filipino dish I learned how to make. Our favorite to eat is pork adobo so that is the recipe I am sharing here!
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Cut of Meat to Use
For pork adobo, the ultimate cut to use is pork belly. The layers of meat and fat make it so decadent and melt-in-your-mouth. However, if you want it to be leaner, pork shoulder works great as well. It has enough fat to give it the flavor and tenderness without feeling like you are eating chunks of fat. My favorite is to use a combination of both pork belly and pork shoulder so you have the best of both worlds. Alternatively, if you want to make chicken adobo, I would recommend dark meat like chicken thighs. It is best for braising and less dry than chicken breast. Also note cooking times for chicken adobo will be different.
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Vinegar to Use
The best vinegar to use for pork adobo in my opinion is cane vinegar. A popular brand for it is Datu Puti, you can generally find it at an Asian grocery store. I like to use this vinegar for adobo because it is slightly sweet and has a less aggressive acidity compared to regular white vinegar. However, if you are unable to find cane vinegar, white vinegar would be fine as a substitute. Another suggestion would be to mix white vinegar and apple cider vinegar to get more of that sweetness.
For best results, try to cut pork into equal pieces so it cooks evenly. Also every stove is different so cooking times and heat levels may vary. When simmering covered, you want the simmer to be continuous but not too aggressive like a rolling boil. Liquid should be added just enough to cover the pork so it can braise. Adding too much water will add to your cooking time as it will take longer to reduce. Once pork is fork tender, remove the lid and simmer until the sauce reduces to your liking. I like the sauce a bit on the thicker side. Taste test and adjust seasonings or water to your preference.
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Filipino Pork Adobo
- 1 lb pork belly
- ¼ onion, chopped
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp black pepper
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ½ cup cane vinegar
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 2 bay leaves
- Cut pork belly into 1-2 inch cubes in the direction where each piece will have a layer of skin, fat, and meat (you can use pork shoulder if you want leaner meat or a combo of both).
- In a pot on medium heat brown the pork.
- Add garlic, onions, and pepper. Cook until softened.
- Add soy sauce, cane vinegar, brown sugar, bay leaves, and enough water to cover the pork.
- Simmer covered on low heat for about 1 hour.
- Simmer uncovered for ~15 minutes or until sauce reduces to your liking.
- Taste test and adjust to your preference.
- Serve over rice and enjoy!