Dare I make such a claim? And what on earth is a “stew-fry“?
Well, first of all, let me qualify my claim before any purists jump on me – this is by far the best recipe for the best chicken and pork adobo that I have ever tried. And I have tried MANY. I’ve tried simmering, slow-cooking, pressure-cooking, frying a number of different ingredients in varying proportions – vinegar, Chinese soy sauce, Kikkoman soy sauce, Filipino soy sauce, sugar, cane sugar, water … and more. So after dozens and dozens of attempts, here is the result.
A slightly crispy but very tender stew-fry adobo.
And now on to my new word: STEW-FRY. (Look at that, brand-new word coinage!)
Stew-Fry (Noun; verb – transitive/intransitive): food cooked by stew-frying; to cook by simmering or stewing, followed by frying individual ingredients in oil
But the real reason I know this is the best adobo ever is because of the reaction of my taste-testers (i.e., dinner-eaters). First, the husband, Jay (who doesn’t blink at breaking bad news such as, “you’re putting on weight” or “Ew, what did you put in this?”) couldn’t stop eating to talk because his mouth was always full – and when he finally did, he told me how much he loved me and that this adobo was the best adobo ever. And second, our dinner guest, Pete, who is British through-and-through (a definite non-Filipino) had not two, but three helpings. So, my conclusion? If a guy with a cooking-goddess grandmother (and a barely-there sense of tact) and a not-even-remotely-Asian guy couldn’t stop gushing about it, then it must be good.
Making Adobo: General Tips
This is what I’ve learned after much trial and error:
- Use a Filipino soy sauce (such as Silverswan). Do NOT use regular Kikkoman as it’s much too salty. If you can’t find a Filipino soy sauce, use a Chinese soy sauce or a reduced salt version.
- The best vinegar for this recipe is cane vinegar (such as Datu Puti).
- Don’t be tempted to add more soy sauce as you’re simmering the meat – it will look slightly pale to begin with.
- Don’t be afraid to make the dish the night before and reheat it; it will actually taste EVEN better.
- There’s absolutely no need for sugar.
- Chicken breast will dry out quickly so either use a different cut (as below) or take it out midway through simmering
- Make adobo flakes (adobong malutong) and sprinkle over the finished dish (the recipe is below as well)
Chicken and Pork Adobo Recipe
Serves 3 people
- About 500 grams pork belly
- About 500 grams pork shoulder or other cut for stewing
- About 500 grams of boneless, skin-on chicken thighs (or bone-in chicken legs, thighs)
- 14 cloves of garlic
- 2 tablespoons of black peppercorns
- 1 cup cane vinegar (or palm, white)
- 1/2 cup Filipino soy sauce (or reduced-salt)
- 4 dried bay leaves
- Barely enough water to cover the meat
- 1 teaspoon of oil
Prepare the meat. Slice everything into chunks (about 1.5 inches).
Bash the garlic cloves with the flat of a large knife. Peel the crushed garlic.
Heat the teaspoon of oil on high heat in a deep pan. Saute 9 of the 14 cloves of garlic. Reserve the others for later. Stir around the pot to infuse the oil – just until soft. Add the peppercorns, bay leaves, vinegar and soy sauce. Tip the meat into the pan and turn to coat all the pieces. Pour in just enough water to almost cover the meat. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat. Simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour (or until desired tenderness is reached).
Turn off the heat. Remove the meat from the pan with a slotted spoon. Set aside. Pour the sauce into a separate heat-proof bowl. At this point, you must choose whether or not you want to make the adobo flakes (adobong malutong).
Adobong Malutong: Take 3-4 chunks of pork shoulder. Shred them into small strings or flakes. Heat a deep-fryer or about a half-inch of oil in a wok. When hot, fry the flakes until crispy. Dry the flakes on paper towels. These can be sprinkled on top of the adobo just before serving for an added crunch!
Skim off most of the rendered fat that has risen to the top of the sauce. Heat 1 tablespoon of this fat in a large wok or non-stick pan. Fry the reserved garlic cloves until golden. Then, fry the rest of the meat (in batches if necessary) until each is browned on (most) sides. Return the sauce to the pot and heat. Return the meat to the pot and turn to coat. Heat through and serve! Top with the fried adobo flakes, if you’ve made them. This dish is best with lots of steamed white Jasmine rice.
And that’s it! The best adobo ever!
Now I just need to decide whethe or not to submit “stew-fry” to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary!