Adobo the What? | Braised Adobo Pork Chops

Scooby Doo. Little House on the Prairie. I used to rush home after school to catch those afternoon cartoons and T.V. shows. I was a total child of the 80’s, and television was part of it. I sometimes did my homework in front of it…

Adobo the What? | Braised Adobo Pork Chops

Scooby Doo. Little House on the Prairie. I used to rush home after school to catch those afternoon cartoons and T.V. shows. I was a total child of the 80’s, and television was part of it. I sometimes did my homework in front of it (promise me you won’t ever tell my children). I somehow managed to productively finish my homework during commercial breaks.

Sometimes I would be feverishly figuring out a set of math problems when I would hear, “Adobo the chicken!” coming cheerfully from the T.V. And I would have to stop.

That was not adobo. At least not to me. The old Goya commercial for Adobo seasoning used to really puzzle me, because my Chicken Adobo did not come from a bottle. I could smell it coming from the kitchen, bubbling in its braising liquid of soy sauce and vinegar, punctuated by heady morsels of garlic. My family’s succulent Chicken Adobo looked nothing like the commercial on the television screen.

Adobo is often argued to be the national dish of the Philippines, and it does not have to be just chicken. You can adobo pork, squid, or even vegetables. Some swear that a true adobo uses coconut milk. Others are soy sauce and vinegar purists.

When my daughter worked on a heritage project a few months ago, she interviewed my father, and I was surprised to learn that his favorite dish is Adobo – with a combination of chicken and pork, and with not too much sauce. Who knew? I actually thought he would name several other dishes before the mundane Adobo, and I really had no idea that he liked a drier version.

Me, I like the sauce. I would actually be very content eating a bowl of rice, swirled generously with Adobo sauce. That is comfort.

Several months ago, I shared my family recipe with my friend Gina of Skinny Taste. I think she did a beautiful job, and her version lightens up my recipe by skipping the extra browning. Don’t you just want to dig in?

Photo courtesy Skinnytaste

When I was craving adobo the other day, I decided to braise some gorgeous French cut pork chops in a potent adobo. Cooking temperamental pork chops in this manner results in succulent, ridiculously flavorful meat – it’s like brining and braising at the same time. My husband boldly declared that they were the best pork chops I have ever made. Flattering as that may be, I can not wait to make my Braised Adobo Pork Chops when my dad visits me this weekend. He will be the true judge, but I suspect that he will wholeheartedly agree.

Update :05.16.11 : I’m happy to report that my father really enjoyed this version of Adobo – maybe a little too much. He couldn’t stop eating!

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Braised Adobo Pork Chops

You can “adobo” nearly anything, but it really is magical with pork and chicken. Adobo works quite well with pork chops, ribs, and short ribs. I do recommend dark meat if you choose to make Chicken Adobo. Please visit Gina at Skinny Taste for my family’s Adobo Chicken recipe.

Serves 4.

  • 4 french cut pork chops
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce*
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar*
  • 1 head of garlic, crushed
  • 6 ground peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 jalapeno, halved (optional)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

Marinate pork chops in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and pepper, for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Place the marinated pork chops in a Dutch oven or heavy pot over a medium fire, bring to a slow boil, allow to cook through, rotating occasionally. Transfer sauce to a bowl, add oil, and brown the pork chops. Return sauce to the pot, add bay leaves, jalapeno, and water, and continue simmering over low heat until the the meat is very, very tender, about an hour. If the sauce does not completely submerge your meat, take care to rotate the chops periodically. Adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve over rice.

* If you prefer an even saucier Adobo, by all means, increase the liquid marinade. It’s as easy as maintaining a 1:1 ratio of soy sauce and vinegar.





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  1. Robert

    Very unclear recipe how do you bring chops to a boil? don’t make me read your mind

    • Liren Baker

      Hi Robert – as the recipe mentions, bring the sauce with the chops to a boil over medium heat. I would allow the chops to cook for about 3-4 minutes, to give it a chance to start cooking through. The main braise later in the recipe will take care of the rest.

  2. Anna

    I made this tonight and it was a huge hit. The best part of the dish is the sauce. I used chicken thighs and doubled the sauce . The only thing I didn’t do was marinate the chicken and omitted the jalapeño . This is my first time trying adobo and I will make this a regular in my home.

    Awesome recipe!

  3. Suburban Dharma

    Thank you! I’ll be watching for some veggie recipes/ideas!

  4. Suburban Dharma

    WOW! Made these chops last night & hubby went totally nuts for them! The flavor was EXCELLENT. I increased the soy sauce & vinegar to 3/4c each and added extra water accordingly. Oddly, the meat was a little dry, which I’ve never had with braised pork, but I think it was because there still wasn’t enough liquid to cover so I had to keep turning them. There was just enough sauce that when I removed the chops from the Dutch oven, I thickened it with a smidge of corn starch and we ladled it over the rice- sooo yummy! I browned the chops after the initial simmer as directed but next time will likely do it at the beginning.

    I searched for HOURS to find a Filipino vegetable dish to go alongside this, but it seems as though Filipinos are carnivores and everything I found either, a) had meat in it OR b)was “adobo”, which I already had going on with the chops, or c) had vegetables I’d never heard of!(or all three of those!) :) What IS “bitter melon”, anyway? :) So I made sauteed green beans & mushrooms and steamed asparagus.(I always make 2 veggies- usually different colors but that’s all I had!)

    I will certainly make this again, though not often because that was about enough sodium for a month. By adding more water to cover I’m sure they’d be moist, and absolutely suitable for a dinner party. If you could supply a vegetable recipe it would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much for posting this recipe!

    • Liren

      I am so glad you liked it and that both you and your husband enjoyed the adobo. Pork chops can be temperamental, depending on the quality of the cut, as I have experienced, but I’m glad you consider this a keeper. I chuckled when you wondered whether Filipinos are carnivores – I can see why people may think that. But vegetables are certainly very important and enjoyed. I will definitely have to post more of those types of recipes.

      Bitter melon, also known as bitter gourd, looks like a cucumber with knobby ridges. As a child, I hated bitter melon, as it can have a bitter flavor. However, as an adult, I have learned to appreciate it, and to prepare it properly, with some tricks to minimize that bitter taste. I will likely post on that soon. I can honestly say that I really do like bitter melon now! It is a very unique vegetable.

      Thanks so much for the suggestions – I will definitely work on them!

  5. PolaM

    I learned a lot of new things tonight! Never knew what adobo exactly was… Your version looks amazing!

  6. Ellie@fitforthesoul

    Mmmm carnivorous delight! :) you seem so talented Liren! by the way, what camera lens do you use and which one is your go-to lens for most things?

    • Liren

      Thank you, Elie, I’m quite flattered. I primarily use one lens – it is a basic 35mm prime. Believe me, I wish I had the budget for a fancier schmancier lens, but right now, I’m working with what I’ve got!

  7. DB

    Hi Liren,

    This is the second adobo recipe I’ve seen make the foodbuzz Top 9 in the last month. The other was from Nami of Just One Cookbook. Both recipes are very similar in cooking method.

    My wife was born and raised in Metro Manila and she taught me her version where you sauté the protein (chicken or pork) in minced garlic and chopped onions before adding braising fluids of water, soy sauce, white vinegar and a teaspoon (or two) of white sugar. (She tells me that adobo is a balance of flavors: saltiness, sweetness and sourness.)

    There are literally dozens of versions, each of them delicious. Your version also looks very tasty. Can you please update this post with what your father thought of the dish?


    Fremont, CA

    • Liren

      Hello, DB. I’m pleased to see that adobo is gaining in popularity – it’s just the type of dish that most palates can appreciate. I do love that balance of flavors that your wife speaks of. Yes, there are definitely many version of adobo, and I have seen it prepared the way you are used to, where the meat is sauteed in garlic and onions. That is equally as delicious. I’m happy to report that my father absolutely enjoyed this version; he ate quite a lot of it. We even made adobo wraps the next day with some leftovers!

  8. Jeannie

    Wow that reminds me of the dish my very capable maid cooked for me long ago…I can now cooked it for myself:) Thanks for sharing!

  9. The Travelling Chopsticks

    Chicken adobo is my ultimate comfort food. It was first introduced to me as a child, as our maid at the time was this amazing Philipina lady who made the BEST adobo in the world (or at least I thought so!) Like you, it was all about the sauce and rice, in fact I would quickly eat all the chicken so that I could savour that amazing sauce drenched rice! It was so lovely seeing your post, it really brought back some great childhood memories…although nothing can replace chicken adobo for me…I am definitely going to try your pork chop version! Thank you.

    • Liren

      I agree, I have a special place in my heart for chicken adobo. I do love it and am glad to remind you of your childhood!

  10. Suburban Dharma

    This sounds fabulous and I’ve never had Adobo so I’m anxious to try it. But I’m a bit confused by the recipe. From what I can see, there’s only 2/3 cup of liquid in the marinade and it seems as though if I boil/simmer the chops in it until cooked through, there won’t BE any sauce left to transfer to a bowl! About how long do you boil them this way?
    Also, I’ve never made a recipe that browns the meat AFTER simmering… do you think it would be possible to brown it first, then add the marinade & other ingredients to the pot & braise, or is the order important to the process?
    thanks! :)

    • Liren

      Hi, great question. Yes, the marinade starts with 2/3 cup of the soy sauce and vinegar mixture. When you begin to cook the chops, the meat lends some of its own liquid to the sauce, and after browning the meat, you do add 1/3 cup of water. The resulting sauce will be over a cup. However, I do sometimes increase the marinade, if I am craving an even saucier adobo. I have updated the recipe to reflect this; basically, you can start with as much marinade as you wish, the key is the 1:1 ratio of soy sauce to vinegar.

      The initial simmer really locks in extra flavor within the meat. The browning, I’m sure, can be done first, though my family traditionally waits on this. Either way, as long as you let it simmer away for a significant amount of time post-browning, it should taste great. Good luck, and I hope you do try it. Please let me know how it turns out!

      • Suburban Dharma

        Making it tonight, I’ll let you know, thanks!! :)

  11. Apron Appeal

    I don’t know why, but it’s never dawned on me to cook my pork chops with different spices. Perhaps with an updated version, I may actually prepare it more often.

  12. Hester Casey - Alchemy

    I much prefer your family’s version, with the cooking smells rising from the kitchen, than the sauce-in-a-bottle option advertised to you between your 80s tv programmes (I wonder did they eat Adobo in Little House on the Prarie? :)

  13. Tanvi@SinfullySpicy

    I like chicken adobo a lot.Actually I like the adobo sauce a lot.A very simple dish with fresh flavors.Love your version with pork.Very nice idea.Have a nice rest of the weekend and thanks for sweet words on my blog :)

  14. Kate@Diethood

    mmmm the marinade!! I absolutely love the combo of apple cider vinegar and soy sauce… I bet this has got to be the best tasting pork chop ever!

  15. Brian @ A Thought For Food

    I will have to show this to the hubs because I KNOW he will love this recipe. I’ve never been much of an adobo person, but I have no doubt that he will go bonkers over adding this to his pork chops.

  16. Jun Belen

    I am torn. I like my mom’s drier version where she would brown the pork and the let the sauce get richer and richer until almost every drop is gone. But I also like to ladle the vinegary sauce over steamed rice, too. I guess I like them all! Lovely post, Liren.

    • Liren

      Thanks, Jun! I understand! Love when the sauce is totally reduced to that rich thick goodness. But also love a loose sauce on rice!

  17. Sommer J

    This looks fabulous! I can almost smell its wonderfulness through my screen! I can not wait make this for my family. Definitely will check out the chicken adobo recipe as well.

  18. Jean

    Liren, besides sharing the same taste in food, it seems we also shared the same homework habits! :-)

    What is it with drier adobo? My father prefers it that way, too, while like you, I’d be content just drowning my rice in the sauce. I’ve also had it with the chicken and pork cooked together the way your dad likes it. I’m sure he’ll love your new version here, too. It looks so wonderful, how could he not? :-) In fact, it’s been way too long since I last had some. I think I know what will be cooking tonight!

    Enjoy your visit with your dad! :-)

    • Liren

      I honestly don’t know how my parents let me get away with my homework habits – that would never fly in my house! Shh, don’t ever tell my kiddos :)

  19. norma

    Our adobo is totally different from yours. My daughter-in-law is part Philippino and I was introduced to your adobo which II found to be delicious. I do buy Goya products, but I do my own adobo…The chops look delicious and I am going to visit your friends blog, Skinny.

  20. Veronica Gantley

    This looks amazing. I love the flavor of adobo. I will have to try your version of it. I am not to sure about the hot peppers, but I will give it a try.

    • Liren

      Hi Veronica – if you’re uncertain about the peppers, feel free to leave it out. It’s not a necessary component of adobo, but I sometimes put it in there because I often enjoy a little kick to my food. Depending on the heat of your peppers, it will add extra warmth and dimension to the dish.

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