Filipino Mom’s Ultimate Pork Adobo Over Rice

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Ingredients:

3-5 lb. pork shoulder or butt, trimmed of excess fat and cut into about 2” cubes

1 large yellow or white onion, thinly sliced

4-5 cloves of garlic, minced

2/3 cup dark soy sauce

2/3 cup white vinegar

2 large or 3 small bay leaves

5 small red skinned potatoes

2 teaspoons ground black pepper, plus more to taste

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Canola oil 

Cookware:

Large (3.5 – 5 qt.) enameled dutch oven or nonstick pot

Measuring cup

Measuring spoons

Wooden spoon

Instructions:

1. Season the pork with one teaspoon of black pepper.

adding salt to the cubed pork shoulder before browning
Courtesy of Melissa Hager

2. Heat enough canola oil to just cover the bottom of a big pot over medium-high heat, and brown the pork, using tongs to turn the pieces as they brown so they are very brown on all sides.

placing the pork pieces into pot with oil to brown
Courtesy of Melissa Hager
Pork beginning to brown in pot on stove
Courtesy of Melissa Hager

3. Do this in 2-3 batches so you don’t overcrowd the pot, adding more oil as necessary.

Browning the pork in batches in pot
Courtesy of Melissa Hager

4. Remove the pork from the pot and add the onion. Sauté for a couple minutes.

Adding onion into pot after pork has been browned
Courtesy of Melissa Hager

5. Add the garlic and sauté for another couple minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.

adding garlic to the partially cooked onions in pot
Courtesy of Melissa Hager

6. Deglaze the bottom of the pot with 1/3 cup of water, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon, and add pork back to the pot

deglazing the pan with onion and garlic with water
Courtesy of Melissa Hager

7. Add soy sauce, vinegar, and 2 cups of water. The liquid mixture should cover the pork about ¾ of the way.

8. Add bay leaves and remaining teaspoon of black pepper.

Adding soy, vinegar, water, and bay leaves to the pot of adobo
Courtesy of Melissa Hager

9. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about an hour and a half, stirring a few times. Check the pork every so often to make sure it is not boiling, and adjust the heat as necessary. 

Adobo as it has been simmering for just over an hour
Courtesy of Melissa Hager

10. After an hour and a half, add the potatoes to the pot. If the liquid doesn’t cover the potatoes, add a little water to bring it up a bit. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.

Adding red potatoes into the pot with adobo
Courtesy of Melissa Hager

11. Create a slurry by whisking the flour with about ½ cup of water. Make sure the liquid in the pot is bubbling, and mix the slurry in, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.

Adding slurry into pot with adobo to thicken
Courtesy of Melissa Hager

12. Bring the liquid to a boil and let it thicken with the slurry. It should be the thickness of a thin gravy, but again, this can be adjusted to your personal taste! 

Completed adobo recipe sits in pot on the stove
Courtesy of Melissa Hager

13. Taste the gravy for seasoning. Add more black pepper to taste. Serve over white rice with steamed or roasted broccoli, or any veggies your family likes!

completed dish of pork adobo with veggies and rice
Courtesy of Melissa Hager

About This Recipe

If you’ve never had adobo, you are in for a treat! The national dish of the Philippines, chicken or pork adobo, is one of those dishes each family makes just a little bit different (what kind of meat, the soy sauce to vinegar ratio, the kind of vinegar, how much bay leaf, whether to add sugar or not, etc.). The beauty of a recipe like this is that it can easily be adjusted to your own personal tastes.

As a kid, I was always excited to come home to find the intoxicating smell of garlic, onions, soy sauce, and vinegar filling the whole house. It was the absolute best night for dinner – adobo night. Served with white rice to soak up all the salty goodness, it is my ultimate comfort food, my very favorite thing to cook and to eat. 

That’s not to say some aren’t better than others, and most Filipinos will claim theirs is THE adobo. In a family full of women, like mine, we have had no less than eight different adobo recipes we all claimed were the best, so we did what any family would do — ADOBO COOK OFF. I’m proud to say, as the youngest member of my family at the time, THIS adobo recipe was #1.

excerpt from “Filipinos in Hollywood" showing grandfather serving as a chef
Courtesy of Melissa Hager

My mom would want me to point out that she believes she lost because she made chicken and I made pork. Also, she won the following year. Ok, Mom, I’ll give credit where it’s due! 

My Grandpa Taganas was an amazing chef. He was a cook in the U.S. Navy, and I remember him always cooking up a storm for family dinners and holidays. His adobo (usually made with chicken, pork on special occasions) was always heavy on bay leaf and whole black peppercorns. My mom learned to make adobo from my Grandpa, and when I was a teenager, I remember standing next to her in the kitchen and learning it for myself with no measurements – eyeballing the ingredients and discovering how to cook by taste. 

Grandfather holds his grandchild, both are smiling
Courtesy of Melissa Hager

Along the way, I’ve tweaked it here and there to my own taste – less bay and ground black pepper (I hate to crunch into a whole peppercorn!), and extra vinegar. I have one very picky kid (think macaroni and cheese and dino nuggets) who I’m proud to say happily gobbles up adobo for dinner a few times a month. I can’t wait to teach her the recipe.

Now that my grandparents are no longer with us, when I’m in the kitchen making adobo, it’s comforting in a whole different way. For me it is a classic example of how food connects us, and how flavors can transport us to the past and make us feel close to those who are no longer with us. Here is the secret recipe, from my family to yours. Make a big batch – the leftovers are even better!

Mother and daughter wearing coats in winter season smile with their faces next to each other.
Courtesy of Melissa Hatter

Filipino Pork Adobo Recipe

"Served with white rice to soak up all the salty goodness, this is my ultimate comfort food, my very favorite thing to cook and to eat."
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs 45 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Filipino

Equipment

  • large enameled Dutch oven or nonstick pot (3.5 to 5 qt.)
  • Measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • wooden spoon
  • Tongs

Ingredients
  

  • 3-5 lbs. pork shoulder or butt (trimmed of excess fat and cut into about 2” cubes)
  • 1 large yellow or white onion (thinly sliced)
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 2/3 cup dark soy sauce
  • 2/3 cup white vinegar
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 5 small red skinned potatoes
  • 2 tsp. ground black pepper (plus more to taste)
  • 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • Canola oil

Instructions
 

  • Season the pork with one teaspoon of black pepper.
  • Heat enough canola oil to just cover the bottom of a big pot over medium-high heat, and brown the pork, using tongs to turn the pieces as they brown so they are very brown on all sides.
  • Do this in 2-3 batches so you don’t overcrowd the pot, adding more oil as necessary.
  • Remove the pork from the pot and add the onion. Sauté for a couple minutes.
  • Add the garlic and sauté for another couple minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.
  • Deglaze the bottom of the pot with 1/3 cup of water, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon, and add pork back to the pot.
  • Add soy sauce, vinegar, and 2 cups of water. The liquid mixture should cover the pork about ¾ of the way.
  • Add bay leaves and remaining teaspoon of black pepper.
  • Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about an hour and a half, stirring a few times. Check the pork every so often to make sure it is not boiling, and adjust the heat as necessary. 
  • After an hour and a half, add the potatoes to the pot. If the liquid doesn’t cover the potatoes, add a little water to bring it up a bit. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.
  • Create a slurry by whisking the flour with about ½ cup of water. Make sure the liquid in the pot is bubbling, and mix the slurry in, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.
  • Bring the liquid to a boil and let it thicken with the slurry. It should be the thickness of a thin gravy, but again, this can be adjusted to your personal taste! 
  • Taste the gravy for seasoning. Add more black pepper to taste. Serve over white rice with steamed or roasted broccoli, or any veggies your family likes!
Keyword Filipino food, pork adobo

This recipe was submitted to Love What Matters by Melissa Hager. You can follow her on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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