The Philippines is a nation made up of more than 7,000 islands with a population of 100 million people, making it the seventh-most populated country in Asia and the 12th most populated country in the world!
The Philippines became part of the Spanish Empire in the late 16th century for more than 300 years before the islands were ceded by Spain to the United States as a result of America’s victory in the Spanish–American War. It became independent from the U.S. after World War II in 1946 after being occupied by the Japanese.
As a result of these many influences, Filipino cuisine incorporates many ingredients and culinary techniques from all of these countries as well as its own indigenous food. Perhaps the most famous Filipino national dish is “Adobo”, a stewed meat dish that uses huge amounts of garlic as well as vinegar for both flavoring and as a spoilage preventative due to the high heat experienced in the islands.
My favorite version of Adobo uses pork, and my version combines pork belly for its meltingly tender meat and fat as well as pork shoulder for a more robust “chew”. I also use an atypical ingredient in my recipe – balsamic vinegar. I find the combination of palm vinegar and balsamic gives both an amazing flavor and color to the stewed final dish. Feel free to use all palm (or cider) vinegar for full authenticity.
Citizens – this dish is both amazingly flavorful and easy to make – give it a try and see for yourself! 🙂
Battle on – The Generalissimo
1 ½ lb. fatty pork belly without skin, cut into 2” pieces
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2” pieces
½ cup palm vinegar (preferred) or apple cider vinegar
¼ cup balsamic vinegar (please use real Italian balsamic for this) – note that this ingredient is NOT traditional but I find it adds great color and flavor to the dish. To stay traditional, use palm or apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp. soy sauce
3 tsp. crushed whole black peppercorns
15 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
4 large bay leaves
3 tbsp. lard (greatly preferred) or vegetable oil
8 cups cooked white rice
Shredded scallion for garnish
Patis (Philippine fish sauce; optional), for serving
Melt the lard in a pot over medium-high heat. Set the garlic aside, then, working in batches, add the pork, and cook, turning, until browned all over, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is lightly browned, about 2 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium, add the bay leaves, black peppercorns and soy sauce, then cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes.
Pour in the vinegar, cover then leave to gently simmer on the stove for at least 2 hours, until the meat is falling apart and covered in a rich, brown sauce. Add some chicken stock if the meat looks like it is drying out.
Garnish with scallion and serve immediately with white rice, or allow to cool, then store in the fridge for a few days.