Pork Adobo

NOTE: An updated version of this recipe appears in my cookbook, The Ancestral Table.

Adobo, often considered the national dish of the Philippines, is a method of stewing meat in vinegar. The word “adobo” itself is linked to a Spanish method of preserving raw meat by immersing it in a mixture of vinegar, salt, and paprika. When the Spanish observed an indigenous Philippine cooking method involving vinegar in the 16th century, they referred to it as adobo, and the name stuck. Interestingly, the original Filipino name for this dish is no longer known.

You’ll Need:
2-3 lbs pork belly, well-marbled pork shoulder, or a combination of the two
1/3 cup wheat-free tamari
10 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp black peppercorns
5 bay leaves
2/3 cup vinegar (cane vinegar preferred)
1 cup water
2 tsp coconut oil

For a fully authentic taste, Datu Puti cane vinegar is considered the standard vinegar for making adobo, but white vinegar can be used in a pinch.

Cut the pork belly into 1″ chunks.

Combine the pork belly, tamari, garlic, and peppercorns and marinade for at least one hour, but up to two hours.

Warm a skillet on medium heat and add the pork, sautéing for five to seven minutes, until the pork is mostly browned.

Add the bay leaves, vinegar, and water, and mix around. Bring to a simmer and then cover, reducing the heat to low, and simmer for one hour. One trick I’ve heard is that you’re never supposed to remove the lid during this hour of cooking, or the sauce will turn sour.

After an hour the pork and sauce should look pretty dang good, but there’s still a little work to be done before we can move on.

Remove the pork pieces and set aside, then pour out the liquid into a fat separator and set aside (should be about 2 cups of liquid).

Reheat your skillet on medium heat, adding the coconut oil to warm at the same time. Return the pork pieces to the skillet and sauté on medium heat for about ten minutes, until the pieces become crispy on the outside and a good amount of the pork belly’s fat has been rendered. Remove the pieces and set them aside.

Here’s what the pieces should look like after removing them from the pan. Resist the urge to devour them immediately! Okay, you can eat a couple of them.

Add the sauce to the pan and simmer on medium heat, reducing it to about one cup. Should take about five minutes. Be sure to scrape up the remaining pork pieces as you reduce the sauce.

Pour the sauce over the pieces and serve immediately.

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28 thoughts on “Pork Adobo

  1. As usual I am reading your blog at lunch time at work and my stomach is growling! We use Adobo from Goya but it is a dry spice mix (probably mostly salt) and I thought it was from Puerto Rico. We love it, even the kids!
    This recipe looks awesome.

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    1. There are different adobos. This is a Filipino dish, while what your referring to is a Mexican / South American sauce. See chipotles in adobo.

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      1. Hi Colin, thanks for the feedback. The sauce you are referring to is a type of marinade that was influenced by the Spanish’s preservation method that I mentioned in my recipe – which also served as a marinade during the middle ages. It is definitely confusing, when there are three dishes that all borrow the word “adobo”!

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  2. I tried cooking pork belly for the first time recently, but it didn’t turn out…
    …this looks like a great recipe, haha! I definitely need to try working with the cut again, and I think I should try this recipe out too. : )

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  3. I’m making this right now. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the right vinegar so I used 1/3 cup of white wine vinegar and 1/3 cup of ume plum vinegar, which I had on hand. It’s at the simmering stage. My house smells absolutely amazing! Can’t wait to eat it!

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  4. My filipino father enjoys when I make chicken adobo…very similar to your recipe but after the chicken is mostly cooked in the vinegar and water on the stove it is dried and placed on the grill for the remainder of the cooking. The suace used to cook the chicken is then reduced and is yummy over the rice. I will try your pork recipe. Thanks for sharing this. I have just found your site and am enjoying it.

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  5. This looks so good! I’m supposed to bring some kind of chili for a church potluck tomorrow but only have ground pork. I know I could do chili but I like to surprise them with new tastes. So I’m going to make pork meatballs and use your recipe.

    BTW, I appreciate that you have a button to reformat so well for printing recipes. I wish all the bloggers would do that. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for this recipe…it’s the closest I’ve seen to the way my mom always made it when I was growing up.

    It’s been years since I’ve had it, but I’m making this tonight and will be thinking about my parents who are currently dealing with the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda. Food is such a vital connection and tucking into this tonight will make me feel just a bit closer to my loved ones.

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  7. So, I put the vinegar into the bag with the marinade. I was worried that this would have some kind of adverse effect, but it came out great! I used boston butt and it pretty much melted in my mouth. Without much experience with Filipino food, I didn’t know what to expect. Great recipe.

    I’m in Texas, so I’ll probably put the meat into tacos next time.

    Thanks for the recipe!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Adobo | mrKian
  9. It takes a bit of time to make, but it’s worth it. I may try it in my Instant Pot next time. I used pork shoulder and made some other substitutions (coconut aminos and coconut vinegar) and thought it tasted excellent served alongside Asian zucchini noodles with mixed veggies. Thanks for a great recipe!

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