Any foreigner who meets a Filipino will soon discover what Adobo tastes like. It’s one of those dishes that we call our own and it is quite easy to make. Of course, there will always be that “secret ingredient/technique” that would be handed down from generations to generations.
There’s no defined way of cooking adobo. Sure you have the same ingredients, but it is that personal touch that makes each dish different. What makes adobo distinctly adobo? Is it the soy sauce? the vinegar? No. I realized that it is the Bay Leaves. It doesn’t taste like adobo without that particular herb. Some people are happy when their adobo is literally swimming in sauce. Some insist of frying the meat after simmering for hours – then putting it back in the pot. Some insist on an oily adobo – the oilier, the better. Some put onions and some do swear by patis and pinakurat!
There was a time when I visited a friend of mine who happened to cook adobong lamb cChops for lunch. One of the best lamb chops dishes I’ve tasted so far.
- Lamb chops OR beef and pork OR pork and chicken OR beef, pork and chicken OR… get it? any meat combination will do.
- vinegar* [ratio is 1:2, that is if you put 1/2 cup vinegar, put 1 cup soy sauce]
- soy sauce*
- laurel (bay) leaves*
- patis [optional but it does improve the taste by leaps and bounds, instead of using salt]
- beef broth if doing lamb chops [optional if you’re using a slow cooker]
- chili [optional, but it does spice it up a bit]
* die-hard adobo fanatics will swear that without these ingredients, it isn’t adobo at all. Or…if you created any dish with these ingredients [and more], it automatically becomes Adobo!
Put everything in a pot or slow cooker. Boil and then simmer until the chops are cooked and the broth has thickened considerably with a thin layer of oil/fat on top. That’s how you know that your adobo’s ready to be served on a healthy serving of piping hot, steamed rice.
For slow cookers, you can put this on high for 5 hours or 9 hours on low. You can add an hour or two if you plan to shred the meat like I did. Why did I shred the meat? So I can do adobo flakes, which you can also use on sandwiches, fried rice, sotanghon, pizza, congee and even pasta.
These are the things that we call “secret ingredient” or that personal touch that our parents, grandparents, and friends would do to make the dish different.
- If you don’t have lamb chops, try using chicken, pork, AND beef. The combination of meat makes the sauce tastier.
- If using a slow cooker, it is ALWAYS best to saute the garlic, herbs and sauce before putting everything in a slow cooker. Doing that changes the taste somewhat. You can also brown the meat separately before putting everything in a slow cooker.
- If you don’t have rice vinegar, use cane vinegar. If you don’t have cane vinegar, use balsamic. If you don’t have balsamic, use pinakurat. Yes, I discovered this when I ran out of vinegar. The balsamic vinegar gives the sauce a sweet aftertaste which made it tastier.
- Just before serving, lightly brown the meat in a separate pan. You usually don’t have to put oil if you’re using pork. But in the case of lamb, chicken or beef, frying all the sides seals the flavor inside the meat. Pour the sauce in a bowl to be served separately.
- To do the adobo flakes, shred the meat using 2 forks. You can fry the meat in oil. If you want it less dry [pasta, sandwich] add a little adobo sauce and mix. Only fry what you will eat. You can save the rest putting it back in the sauce and storing it in the freezer.