Filipino Pork Adobo – this is my family’s classic Filipino adobo recipe for an authentic pork adobo: pork shoulder braised in vinegar, soy sauce, and lots of garlic. A simple and satisfying meal! This post is brought to you by Iowa Corn.
I’ll never forget the feast my mom, grandmother and aunts prepared when I was a six-turning-seven — my parents and I flew to the Philippines for vacation, and my mother thought it would be the perfect time to celebrate my birthday with our extended family.
It turned into a virtual fiesta!
I remember a gorgeous cake, decorated with beautiful figurines of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, tons of balloons, and a lechon (roast pig) — there was more, of course, but when you’re seven, those are the things that leave the biggest impression.
A lechon tends to impress anyone, but this one, in particular, left its mark because I distinctly remember my uncle pulling out the beautifully roasted pig out of his car, and I marveled as my aunts told me how he had a pig farm. Everyone was giddy for its crispy skin, and the tender meat that was roasted to perfection. But for the younger me, it was the idea of having a pig farm that I found most fascinating, even more interesting than the glossy red apple that was in the lechon’s mouth, if you can believe.
A pig farm! What was that like, I wondered!
The thing is, I never found out. He sold that business and moved on to other ventures before I had a chance to find out for myself, but when I joined my friends at Iowa Corn earlier this month to learn more about corn and agriculture, my childhood curiosities were finally satisfied. As I learned about corn production in Iowa, and how it is used to feed livestock and for ethanol production, I had the unique opportunity to visit a farrowing farm, where we learned from veterinarians and caregivers how they care for pigs and their babies in the “maternity ward.” It made me think of my uncle, and how much work must gone into producing that one centerpiece dish for our fiesta, and of course, left me appreciating not just how our farmers raise pigs, but how corn plays a close role in feeding our food.
Just think, one bushel of corn converts to about 15.6 pounds of pork — that is quite a lot of food for thought, the next time you eat a pork chop, smoke some ribs, or grill some tenderloin!
After my trip to Iowa, I returned home to a craving for adobo — one of my favorite Filipino comfort foods. While I normally make a chicken adobo, I thought of my adventures in the midwest, and also of my dad — because if you ask him, pork adobo is his personal favorite, and this Filipino Pork Adobo has managed to convert my husband to team pork adobo, as well! It’s not hard to understand why — when given the chance to braise in a sauce of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and pepper, the pork succumbs to the rich flavors, delicious with each bite in saucey rice. It’s comfort food that would be well suited to the midwest as it is in the tropics of Asia – one that crosses borders and truly is meant for a melting pot of flavors.
As many islands there are in the Philippine archipelago, there are just as many versions of adobo — the national dish of the Philippines; some have coconut milk, some have chilies, but at its core, the adobo style of cooking is a meat (such as chicken, pork, or both), fish (such as squid), or even a vegetable (such as Chinese long beans) braised in vinegar, soy sauce, and a generous portion of garlic. When most people think of Filipino adobo, chicken adobo is usually the first thing that comes to mind, but the truth is, you can make so many kinds of adobo!
Chicken adobo may be the national dish of the Philippines, but pork adobo is a close second, especially since pork is much loved in the Philippines. When it comes to what cut of pork to use, the possibilities are endless! Pork belly is popular, and I’ve made pork adobo dishes using pork tenderloin, pork chops, and pork shoulder (pork butt).
For this Filipino Pork Adobo, I prefer pork shoulder, cut into cubes — it’s leaner than pork belly, but when you give it time to braise low and slow, it becomes utterly fork tender and so full of flavor.
HOW TO MAKE PORK ADOBO
There are many versions of pork adobo, and my version may or may not be like yours. But this Filipino Pork Adobo is mine, as I was taught by my aunt, loved by my dad, and the dish I continue to make at home. I like to cook it low and slow on the stove to allow the pork shoulder to braise to perfection, but it can easily be done in a slow cooker or pressure cooker (e.g. Instant Pot), and I include those instructions in the recipe card below.
- Start by marinating the pork in the soy sauce, vinegar, garlic and pepper for 30 minutes, or ideally, overnight. The longer, the better.
- Place the pork and the marinade, along with the bay leaves, in a pot over medium heat and cook until nearly cooked through, about 10 minutes.
- Reserve the sauce to a bowl and brown the pork on all sides.
- Return the sauce to the pan, add the water, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 1 hour, or until the pork is tender. Uncover the pot and allow to cook a little more until the sauce has thickened.
- Serve over rice and enjoy.
More Adobo Recipes
Try more of our favorite family recipes:
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Filipino Pork Adobo
- 2 lbs pork shoulder cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1/3 cup soy sauce I prefer Silver Swan for this recipe
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 small head of garlic mashed or finely minced
- freshly ground black pepper
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup water
- Marinate the pork in soy sauce, vinegar, garlic and pepper in a non-reactive bowl, for 30 minutes to 1 hour, rotating at least once. If you can marinate overnight, even better.
- Place the pork, marinade, and bay leaves in a deep pan (like a Dutch oven) and place uncovered over medium heat.
- When the sauce begins to bubble, turn the pork and cook until the meat is nearly cooked through, about 10 minutes.
- Transfer the sauce to a bowl, add oil to the pan, and brown the pork on all sides, working in batches if necessary.
- Return the sauce to the pot, add water, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook for about 1 hour, or until the pork is tender. Remove cover and continue simmering until the sauce has reduced, thickened, and is a deep color. If you lose track of time and/or find that the sauce has reduced too much, add a touch of water to the sauce.
- Serve hot over rice.