Filipino Pork Adobo Recipe

You know how sometimes a memory conjures up the urge for a certain type of food? Yesterday, I posted about my best friend Amy’s sister. When I was in college, Amy and I spent alot of time together and she taught me the finer points of Filipino cooking and hooked me on a few dishes in particular. While surfing around yesterday, I came across a foodie blog event requiring the use of several ingredients that oddly enough are also used to make one of my favorite Filipino foods. It seemed like all signs were telling me what I should make for dinner.

Every month The Leftover Queen hosts a Royal Foodie Joust. The Joust is based on using 3 key ingredients, which are selected by the prior month’s winner. This month requires the use of pork, pink/white peppercorns, and citrus. As soon as I saw the ingredients, I knew I would be making adobo.

Adobo is typically made with either chicken or pork, and sometimes a combination of both. The dish is a blend vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic cooked with the meat and seasonings until a dark tangy sauce develops and caramelizes. It is such a great flavor combination that will make your eyes pop and tastebuds dance.

Hopefully, I’ve done Amy proud with the adobo I made last night. I think it was the best I’ve ever made. Her recipe is a visual one (i.e. add enough soy sauce to turn water a medium brown), so I spent some time putting it into recipe form.

Pork Adobo Recipe

2 lbs. pork shoulder
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 cups water
3 garlic cloves crushed Juice from 1 lemon


In a medium pan, add the peppercorns, garlic, bay leaves, soy sauce, vinegar, water, and lemon juice. Cut pork into chunky pieces — I used a pork shoulder roast cut into 2×3′′ strips. Place the pork in the pan and marinate for 15 minutes before turning on the burner.

Turn burner to medium heat and bring pan to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for about 45 minutes. Keep pan partially covered.

The liquid will reduce to form a sauce on the meat. Keep an eye on the pan toward the end of cooking as the liquid will reduce quickly. I reduce the sauce until it is no longer visible in the pan, but is fully coating the meat. The meat will take on darker color at this point and caramelize in the pan. Serve over steamed rice.

Note: Also good made with chicken thighs!

Adobo is piquant in flavor due to the vinegar and if you’d prefer to remove the edge off the dish you could add a teaspoon of sugar during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Alternatively, I did see several recipes referencing the use of 7-Up as a liquid sweetener. Personally, I love the tang.

Given the Joust requirements, I used a mix of white/pink peppercorns in the marinade but you may use whatever type you have on hand. I had one of those fancy peppercorn blends, so picked out the ones required for the Joust :-) And, my adobo doesn’t normally include lemon, but in researching adobo I discovered some recipes do use this ingredient. I decided to use only the juice for added tang and light citrus flavor. I’m not sure if it was the peppercorns or lemon, but this did turn out to be the best-ever adobo. The ingredients also work amazingly well as a rib marinade before grilling.

Hopefully, Amy will see this post and be proud of me. We live several thousand miles away at this point and haven’t seen each other in … like, 8 years. It’s crazy how time flies and how we all spread out across the globe as we get older.

The shortbread cookies from yesterday are so good. I’m not sure how long they will last – every time I walk through the kitchen I stop and have one. Geggie mentioned she has the best-ever shortbread recipe, straight from Scotland. If I can finagle the recipe out of her, I’ll put it to the test and let you know how it turns out :-)

You might also like these posts:
Ras-el-hanout rubbed chicken
Friday night sesame chicken
Asparagus Rice Salad

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  1. It certainly looks great! (FilQualityControlCheck) Yep, the recipe checks out fine too, heh :)

    Our family recipe uses Philippine lemons, so adding a lemon isn’t like a crime or anything (I do in fact think it’s better). Also added to our recipe: tomatoes at the beginning (sweet sourness that just disintegrates into the sauce– heavenly), and a cut-up chili pepper (can’t live without it). We also use tons of garlic.

    You forgot the best part– taking the oiled-up sauce and drizzling it on the rice. Or, if you have time, frying the rice in the oil slick you’ve formed. Perfect for breakfast :) (with said adobo again, an egg, and tomato slices)

  2. This sounds incredible, especially the part about letting the sauce reduce to form a glaze… Yum! Thanks to you, I now know what I’m fixing for dinner tomorrow night! I can’t wait!

  3. manggy: hooray, I received your approval! When you add lemons, do you add the entire lemon peel as well? I considered it, but was afraid it would become too lemony. I held back from putting the oil slick on the rice, but it was tempting.

    astra: I can’t wait to hear how it turns out for you! Remember, it’s TANGY … be ready for it :-) It’s actually a tangy/salty flavor, but when eaten with rice it becomes more mild. I hope you like it and don’t curse me tomorrow night.

  4. heather: Thank you – your ingredients made me happy! So glad you stopped by — I’m curious to see what the other Jousters will create. :-)

  5. Philippine lemons are too thin-skinned to be peeled, but I’d advise against making it too lemony. My Filipino (literature) teacher told us that what makes adobo adobo is the garlic (prob. from Spanish ajo), so it’s meant to be the star flavor :)

  6. This looks sooo good to me! I just wanted to stop by and say you got my vote in the Joust and I will definately be trying this soon!

  7. Patrick: so glad you enjoyed it! I’m a little late in responding to comments and it looks like the link to your photo doesn’t work anymore. I’ll have to ping you so I can see your pic!

    PheMOM: and I didn’t even have to bribe you? Thank you so much for your vote! I hope you try it (and like it). Let me know how it turns out or if you have any questions on it.

  8. ooh, I love adobo and haven’t ever tried to make it. Your recipe sounds very do-able and looks delicious!

  9. Can you tell me what cut of pork you used????? Please! I have been searching high and low for an authentic adobo recipe…fastdrivingirl@yahoo dot com

  10. You can use any cut of pork, although I would suggest not using lean cuts of meat. I typically use chunks of pork butt or shoulder, but pork blades steaks or pork ribs have also been used.

    Best of luck!

  11. I second Allen’s suggestion on pork butt or shoulder. I prefer to use pork butt over shoulder, but have found that it is harder to get my hands on pork butt. I also do a couple things slightly different that might be enjoyable to others:

    1. Use closer to a 1:1 ratio on vinegar to water.
    2. Wait until the very end of cooking the pork (after the water and vinegar have been reduced) to add the soy sauce. Takes less soy sauce and results in drier pork (avoid this if you enjoy more sauce!).

    Great type up of one of my favorite dishes though. Kudos to the author!

  12. Very authentic recipe, dude! I bet it tastes delish :). I just saw your fried rice post–leftover adobo also makes for an amazing fried rice addition. Especially when the rice has adobo sauce mixed in and is then stir-fried with more garlic. Out of this world good!

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