Tuesday, 1 June 2010


Here is a dish I have come to via my brother. This is pretty unusual, as he's only become comfortable expanding his culinary horizons in the past few years. His girlfriend's mother is the origin of this dish, which she brought from her native Philippines. There are many variations, as a cursory glance across the internet or oriental cookery books will show, but this is adobo at its most pared-down. It is, nonetheless, balanced, pure, intense, and delicious - all essential aspects of my favourite recipes.

Tough and/or fatty meat - for preference, pork (such as belly)
White wine or sherry vinegar
Bay leaves
Black pepper

Cut the meat into roughly 1.5cm chunks. Finely chop the garlic. Combine the meat, garlic, a few bay leaves, salt and pepper, and enough vinegar to coat the meat in a bowl, but only just (say, no more than 200ml for 1kg meat). Leave to marinate for 45 minutes. Heat a pan, add the meat and juices. Simmer very gently for up to 1 1/2 hours, covered for the first hour. If the liquid boils dry, add a little water to keep it moist. Serve with rice.

The fattiness of the meat ensures it is moist - chicken breast ends up very dry, but thighs might work. If cooked long enough, fat and skin can become melting. Tougher meat is ideal, as the acidity tenderises it. Tomato purée or passata might work as an addition, mostly for colour and moisture. Don't worry about the quantity of vinegar - the finished dish is intensely savoury, but balanced, and in no way sour - but if it is not to your taste, a dash of sugar might help. Other possible additions are annatto and monosodium glutamate (which are fairly traditional, and add colour and savouriness respectively). If you like lots of sauce, do not allow to boil too dry.