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The Filipino Pork Adobo: What It Is and How to Cook It

Updated on November 19, 2019
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Darius is a 5th year college student that has been taught by his mom and dad to cook delicious meals for the family.

Table of Contents

  1. Brief History of Filipino Adobo
  2. Differences of Adobos Between Cultures
  3. Cooking the Pork Adobo: My Style

3.1. Estimated Cooking Time

3.2. Ingredients

3.3. General Instructions

4. Things to Consider

5. Other Pork-related Delicacies

My version of Pork Adobo
My version of Pork Adobo

1. The Filipino Adobo's Brief History

The word "adobo" comes from the Spanish word "adobar" which means marinade, sauce, or seasoning. During the Philippines' Pre-colonial period, the people's main ingredients for cooking are vinegar and salt. This is to keep them fresh longer because of the tropical climate of the country. When the Spanish Empire colonized the country in the late 16th century and early 17th century, they encountered the adobo cooking process. The Spanish also applied the term adobo to any native dish that was marinated before consumption. Dishes prepared with vinegar, garlic, salt (later soy sauce), and other spices eventually came to be known solely as adobo, with the original term for the dish now lost to history.

2. The Differences Between Other Culture's Adobo

Main Ingredients
Similar Ingredients
Does not have or isn't cooked with
Soy Sauce
Black Peppers
Bay Leaves
Filipino Adobo vs. Spanish/Latin American Adobo ingredients table

3. Cooking the Filipino Pork Adobo

I cooked the meal with a serving for four people. Adobo is always best paired with white, soft, cooked rice and a glass of orange juice or soda for refreshment.

Actually, cooking adobo using pork is quiet easy and simpler than with chicken. There are only a few differences in ingredients, time to cook, nutrition, but the overall delicious taste and solve for one's hunger is still intact.

Note: I would like to state, first, that this is how I cook my adobo. Particularly, everyone of every family in any region of the country — and even renowned chefs — has their own way of cooking it.

3.1. Estimated Cooking Time

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 40 min
Ready in: 50 min
Yields: Serving for four people, or a family.

3.2. Ingredients for Pork Adobo

  • 2 red onions, sliced, chopped, or diced
  • 1 to 1.5 kg pork (with at least 75% meat and 25% fat), sliced or chopped into cubes
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons cooking oil, olive or vegetable
  • 75 to 125 mL soy sauce, sodium volume depends on you
  • 1 to 1 and 1/4 cup water
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar, preferably white
  • 1 Knorr pork cube, an all-in-one seasoning cube
  • at least 1 teaspoon black pepper, crushed or powdered
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, preferably iodised
  • 20 to 40 mL vinegar, added when the pork is cooked
Click thumbnail to view full-size
First Step: pour oil and stir fry chopped red onionsWait until the pork pieces are at least this done or white, then add water.Add all the ingredients to create a mixture. Bringing it all into a boil until the pork is cooked.The final product on an elongated ceramic bowl.
First Step: pour oil and stir fry chopped red onions
First Step: pour oil and stir fry chopped red onions
Wait until the pork pieces are at least this done or white, then add water.
Wait until the pork pieces are at least this done or white, then add water.
Add all the ingredients to create a mixture.
Add all the ingredients to create a mixture.
Bringing it all into a boil until the pork is cooked.
Bringing it all into a boil until the pork is cooked.
The final product on an elongated ceramic bowl.
The final product on an elongated ceramic bowl.

3.3. General Instructions for Cooking Pork Adobo

  1. On a deep enough pan, skillet, or pot, heat the onion in oil on medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook until it becomes translucent. Be careful not to burn the garlic and onion. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to keep the ingredients moving.
  2. Add the pork and lightly stir. Wait for it to simmer for at least five to ten minutes.
  3. Add the soy sauce, Knorr pork cubes, pepper, salt, sugar, and water. Stir and mix everything together. Leave it open or with a lid while it simmer to boil for at least 10 to 30 minutes on a medium to high flame.
  4. Add more water to the mixture if you think the dish is too dry. Always taste test your dish. If it's too salty, add water. If it's too bland, add soy sauce, pepper, and other spices like bay leaves.
  5. See or taste if the pork is cooked. If it's soft, or at least easy to chew, bring the flame to low and add the vinegar and leave it for another three to five minutes.
  6. Serve on top or on side of rice and enjoy.
This is a all-in-one pork Knorr pork cube I always add in the dish.
This is a all-in-one pork Knorr pork cube I always add in the dish.

4. Things to Consider while Cooking Pork Adobo

  1. Like any other adobo recipes, you can always marinade your pork (or chicken) first for at least 30 minutes to one hour before putting them all into a heated pan, pot, or skillet. Marinading them would require you the same ingredients except for the water and Knorr pork cubes. The Knorr pork cubes are only to be added when the dish is brought into a boil.
  2. Do not overcrowd the pan when browning the meat so the pork pieces get a good sear. Use a wide pan or cook in batches if necessary.
  3. Potatoes and hard boiled eggs are a delicious way to bring a more deliciously "pizzazz" to your adobo. Make sure to pan-fry the cut potatoes first before adding to the stew so they’ll keep their shape better.
  4. Cook off the strong vinegar flavor by allowing it to boil uncovered and without stirring for a good few minutes.
  5. If you want to season the dish with more salt than called for in the recipe, I suggest adding it during the last few minutes of cooking to correctly gauge taste. The flavor of the dish will concentrate as the sauce reduces. Add more water if you think the dish is too salty or use a low-sodium soy sauce. You can add more sugar to make the dish sweet.

5. Other Pork Delicacies in the Philippines

Pork is one of the Philippines' most prominent food, dish, or business. Today, the country ranks as the world's 8th biggest consumer of pork, with at least 60% of its meat present and sold in the national markets.

Aside from Adobo, pork can be cooked by Sinigang (a Filipino soup or stew characterized by its sour and savoury taste most often associated with tamarind), Sisig (a Filipino dish made from parts of pig head and chicken liver, usually seasoned with calamansi, onions and chili peppers), and the Philippines' all time festival favorite the Lechon.


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