How to Cook Pork Adobo, a Classic Filipino Dish
The History of Adobo
The word adobo originated in the Philippines during the long period of Spanish rule, from 1521 until 1898. In December 1898, following the Spanish American War, Spain ceded the islands to the United States.
It is no surprise that after more than 300 years of Spanish rule, many Spanish words remained within the Filipino language. The word "adobo" comes from the Spanish word "adobar," which means marinade or sauce.
The dish predates the arrival of the Spanish, however. The adobo technique was a way of keeping food fresher for longer by soaking the food in a marinade of vinegar and salt.
Many Variations Exist
There are so many versions of this classic dish that even within the same household you can find different recipes and styles being cooked; therefore, it is not surprising to find many different forms of adobo throughout the Philippines.
Adobong puti is a version of adobo that just uses salt rather than vinegar and is known as white adobo or blond adobo. It is considered to be the closest version to what was being prepared in the Philippines before the Spanish arrived.
As you can see within my recipe, I do not use vinegar, but I do use brown sugar to contrast the saltiness of the soy sauce. In other versions of adobo, pineapple is used to contrast with the soy sauce or salt.
Most adobo dishes incorporate pork, chicken, squid or vegetables—but more exotic versions call for goat, snake, catfish, or even frogs.
An Introduction to Pork Adobo, a Classic Filipino Dish
Growing up in the Philippines, I learned to cook alongside my mother with an open fire and limited resources. Rice was our staple food source, and it was imperative to find ways to enhance the flavor of our meals and to provide variety to our diets.
In the Philippines, many people raise their own pigs for the table to supplement their rice and fish diets; therefore, pork is one of the most commonly used meats and is considered a treat for most families and eaten at special occasions.
Pork in Filipino Cooking
As pork is a luxury item, every part of the pig is used in Filipino cooking—from the trotters to the head and snout. In Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines, pork is known as baboy, so if you ever come across a dish with baboy at the end, you know it is a pork dish.
One of the most famous pork dishes is Pork Adobo which is considered unofficially as the national dish of the Philippines. Pork belly is the preferred cut of the pig because a joint with plenty of fat is always used to increase the flavor of the dish. This dish is always served with white rice.
This is an extremely easy dish to prepare, and it uses a single large pot. It really is as simple as putting all the ingredients together and letting them work their magic to create a dish packed full of flavor.
Throughout the Philippines, you find pork adobo being enjoyed in restaurants. I hope you enjoy my version of this classic dish. In the video at the bottom of the article, I demonstrate a step-by-step guide on how to cook this delicious Filipino dish in English.
- 1 kilogram pork belly, cubed
- 300 millilitres lemonade
- 120 millilitres soy sauce
- 120 grams brown sugar
- 2 onions, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- Combine all the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Simmer on a low heat with a lid on and stir occasionally.
- Add additional lemonade if it looks too dry.
- Simmer for 25 minutes, then serve with rice.
My Pork Adobo Recipe
Embracing the Filipino Culture
I was born in the Philippines and grew up tending our family farm with my mother and learned to cook at a very early age.
When I was 23, I moved to the UK, and now I reside in France, but over the years I have never forgotten my heritage or my culture. I have enjoyed showcasing my love of the Philippines to my new countries of residence.
In the UK, I performed at cultural shows performing traditional Filipino dances, and now in France, I enjoy cooking and sharing with the world the delights of the Filipino cuisine.