Archive for June, 2009


Pork Adobo with Brown Rice and Tomato and Red Onion SaladThe quintessential Filipino dish, Adobo is as varied as the cooks who make it.  You’ve got your pork adobo, chicken adobo, mixed adobo, dry adobo, fried adobo, white adobo, yellow adobo, and apparently on a certain LAX-MNL flight, beef adobo.  The basics, however, are always the same: meat, vinegar, and garlic. Lots and lots of garlic.

Upon this base, you can come up with any number of adobo variations.  In “The Adobo Book” by Nancy Reyes-Lumen et al, she writes of a Parisian Adobo made in precisely the same way as the adobo I grew up with, but with one unique addition: 500g of Goose Foie Gras.  Oh sweet lord in heaven.  If I ever have 40€ to spare to dump into a pot of vinegar, soy sauce and garlic, it will happen. One day.

My particular variation came out of my love of all things fried. What could be better, I thought, than deep-fried crispy adobo topped with fried garlic? The first few attempts were heaven: crispy outside, gooey-sticky inside with that sweet caramelized note floating in a cloud of vinegar and spices.  However, after a frying fiasco at the apartments at San Jose Repertory Theater in which the pot lid exploded off the top and sent a geyser of pork adobo onto the ceiling, I thought, “Hmmm..maybe not such a good idea.”  I have since moved onto draining the meat pieces and setting them under the broiler.  There is enough fat in the meat, usually, to render out and still get that nice brown crispy crust on the adobo piece.Pork Belly

Serve it with rice, additional fried garlic, and the stewing sauce on the side.

MFs Pork Adobo

2 lbs of pork belly, skin on, cut into 1.5 to 2 in square pieces

a head of garlic

a handful of whole peppercorns

3 bay leaves

1 cup of soy sauce*

1/2 cup of vinegar

Place all the ingredients except the vinegar in a pot and add water to cover.  Place on the lowest heat available on your range. You know the smallest burner? Put it on that and turn it down. Way down. Cover and simmer/braise for at least an hour, the whole day if you have the time. This is normally a quick home dish that cooks in 20 mins, but I find that the slow braise makes for a more tender, fall-apart meat as well as a rich thick sauce. 30 minutes before you plan to serve, add the vinegar and cook until it no longer smells acidic. Don’t stir until your nose tells you it’s ok!

When done, use a spider to pull the pork out of the sauce and spread in one layer on a cookie sheet covered with banana leaves, if you have them (this gives it another layer of flavor).  Place under the broiler for about 10 mins until the meat has crisped up and browned on the surface.

*I don’t normally differentiate ingredients. Usually, soy sauce is just soy sauce. But in this case, I recommend using a Filipino soy sauce such as Silver Swan or Datu Puti. Chinese and Japanese ones like Kikkoman just lack the depth and richness of a Filipino soy sauce, and they are also usually lighter in color, which is important if you want to get the characteristic deep caramel brown of adobo.


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Breakfast of Champions

Originally posted on my family blog about a year ago..but it still holds true today: how can you say no to fatty slices of meat in garlic?

One of the nice things about having The Frenchman away (apart from being able to spread out across the entire mattress) is being able to eat like a Filipino again without him asking “What’s that smell”? 🙂

He’s an adventurous eater, but I only break out the Mangga’t Bagoong (green mangoes served with fermented shrimp paste) when he’s out. I’m steaming suman (sticky rice rolls in banana leaves) as I write this. And because Brian Sison made me drool with pictures of tocilog from Boracay, I decided to make tapsilog for breakfast.

None of this cereal bullshit..I had a nice steaming breakfast while it snowed 10 inches outside (you can see the snow on the awnings).

A little primer for those of you unfamiliar with the traditional Filipino breakfast.  Unlike some cultures that nibble on cold bread with a hot drink in the morning, the Filipino goes all out with garlic fried rice, fried eggs and a protein like bacon, beef slices or fried fish.  In fact, the name Tapsilog (or any *silog, really), refers to the meal itself: TAPa (Garlic Beef), SInangag (Fried Rice), and itLOG (eggs).   Though I have accustomed myself to breakfast the American way, the Filipino soul really only longs for a steaming hot breakfast of rice.  And karaoke.
2 lbs beef (I took the cheapest cut: beef shin. A lot of people say sirloin, but they don’t seem to have that in Chinatown. Only the weiiiird parts.
1/2 c apple cider vinegar
1/4 c soy sauce
3 T dark brown sugar
a head of garlic
some salt
LOADS of pepper

Slice the beef really thinly. If you got a cheap cut like I did, hit it with a meat mallet a couple of times with the cuber side.
Mix all the other ingredients together and pour it over the beef in a ziploc bag or covered pyrex. I don’t recommend plastic containers, you’ll end up with brown, smelly plastic.
Leave it for at least a day…two if you can
Bring it out, drain and pat dry.  Fry it until yummy.
Serve with a fried egg and garlic rice.
And atsara. Which I wish I had.

**My aunt in Seattle just made this recipe and suggested doubling the sugar. Never one to back down from sugar, I agree whole-heartedly. It gives you more that Batangas-style tapa. In order to adjust my already made and frozen 2lbs of tapa, after thawing I roll them in a little sugar and fry. Gives it a nce caramelized coating.

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