So my mama makes pork adobo her way, and I make it mine. Mine is a little more austere.
I buy a lean cut of pork, not too much fat, but not loin either, because that has so little fat that it would turn out tough. Cube it. Put it in a wok. Put in just enough Japanese soy sauce (Chinese soy sauce is too thick and sweet) so that every piece will get a little dressing of salty goodness. Pour in enough vinegar so that even the chunks on the top layer of the pork-crowded pan are soaking in it, but not covered. Turn the heat to a low simmer.
Crack some pepper corns with your mortar and pestle, throw them in. Smash some garlic with your knife and pull off the peel, and put those in… one or two cloves for every person that will be served; three cloves per person if you’re serving ilokanos, because no sense skimping on garlic. Throw in some bay leaves, and a half glass of whatever red wine you’re drinking.
Here’s where my mama would put worcestershire, bagoong alamang, and a squirt of ketchup, but I skip those steps. I’m a minimalist, and to me those are just three more flavors of salty.
Anyway, throw it all together, cover, let it simmer for as long as you can, at least 25 minutes. Stir occasionally. Do other stuff. Make rice. Dice tomatoes and dress them with raw garlic that has been crushed with kosher salt. The longer you let it simmer the better.
When it’s getting close to serving time, remove the lid, and let the liquid reduce to a thick sauce that coats the chunks of meat. There should be no soupiness; the garlic cloves may have disintegrated.
If you’ve chosen a fattier cut of pork, you can soak up some of the extra fat at this point with a paper towel. Me, I usually choose leaner cuts, so I usually skip this step.
Then, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil and sautee for a minute or two, so that the meat looks toasty.
Transfer to serving dish, set the table, serve with garlic tomatoes and steamed rice. And for goodness sakes, don’t let anyone try to eat the bay leaves.
UPDATE: Click here for some further musings on making better pork adobo.
Here’s mama’s version: