So let this be my first ever entry here. Pang Buena Mano!
I have been hanging out in the household kitchen as a fat kid and have seen my Mommy Tess and my Nanay Floring (what I call my Lola) do their magic in the kitchen. So I was there watching and volunteering myself to chop this and that, to fry, to stir and what have you. Kahit pag babalot ng lumpiang shanghai, kinakareer ko talaga. I was a cook wanna be. And therefore I said one day, when I grow up I can also do what they do.
I know for some, cooking the pinoy adobo is just "so so", but for me I consider it a masterpiece and it is cooked with love. I have been trying to get the Umph! in it since I started to cook it on my own and it took me yearssss to realize how to do it and finally hit the bullseye! AMEN.
As said by Chichajo: "I don’t think there is, or will ever be, a truly definitive recipe for Filipino adobo." - this really holds true for us Pinoys. There are just so many ways to cook it. sooooooooooooo many ways: Adobong baboy, manok, combo of both, sitaw, kangkong, pusit ---masabaw, masarsa, tuyo, with potatoes, adobo sa kamatis, adobong may gata, adobong mushrooms, adobong lamb, the chinese adobo (i like!) and all that jazz. whew! I think, with the mix of the ingredients, you can just make any meat, seafood or veggie into a great adobo of your own.
Adobong Liempo (Pork Belly) is my best bet for comfort food. I can eat it for days really. How does the adobo melt in your mouth? Simple. Have your handy-dandy pressure cooker. Yup, that's my baby! It saves a lot of time, at least half the time, effort and gas from it! Many thanks to my boss and good friend who gave it to me as a wedding gift last 2006. Thanks, ate Mori!
Before, I used to cook the adobo in low fire for at least 2 hours so that the meat will be tender and the flavors will really sink in the meat. That's another option if there is no pressure cooker.
In the cooking portion of Boy and Kris (uy showbiz!), Chef Bruce Lim said - on how to use the pressure cooker - the water should just be enough to cover the whole meat. The fire should be in medium to semi-high and allow for it to boil until it reaches cooking pressure. You can say if it has reached it's high point if the top cover jiggles or makes that oooozing sound and you see the white smoke coming out of that little valve on the cover. If you see this, turn the fire to medium-low to low, just enough to maintain the pressure. And guess what, that's just the start of the process in making your meat tender.
After achieving the cooking pressure, it usually takes 30 more to cook the meat. But if you really want to be sure that it will so damn melt in your mouth, make it 45mins to an hour.
After putting off the heat, please do not remove the lid just yet! It might explode because of the pressure. Just like what our mommies do - old style - they put a water wet kitchen cloth on top of the little valve to release the pressure, otherwise, to make it faster, just put the pressure cooker under running water for a quick cool down. Make sure that the water runs down over the lid and not directly over the little valve/pressure regulator.
If all pressure is gone, it's time to take the meat out...and cook the adobo!
I am a person who hates math (or maybe Math dislikes me!). totally. you can ask my gradeshool, highschool and college teachers about it. So if I can do away with anything with numbers, I really would. So with cooking, I can say I try to make "tancha" (estimate) and have this "bahala na" mentality. I mix/combine the ingredients/flavorings by the ladle/spoon/handful/scoop, by the spoon, by the hand, or by the smell.
I really don't have any, exact measurement in most of my cooking, but since I started this blog, I will try my very best to note down the measurements for future dishes. As for delicate dishes (especially baking) - I have no other choice. Hehe!
Our family Adobo:
Half a kilo of pork belly
lots of chopped garlic (about 4 tbsp)
about 1/2 cup of white vinegar
about 1/2 cup of dark soy sauce (add a tablespoon or 2 if you want it a bit more salty)
About 2 to 3 tablespoons of brown sugar (add sugar little by little, add some more if you want a sweeter version)
lots of pepper, freshly cracked and some uncracked
1 big laurel leaf
Saute the chopped garlic until it's about to turn golden brown. If you want, save some for garnishing!
Add the pressure cooked pork belly (drained well)
Add the vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, pepper and laurel leaf and stir a little and simmer on low heat. do not fully cover the pot so that the vinegar's acidity will evaporate.
As of 7/31/09 Update: - As suggested by my Mommy Tess, as said by most elders --- I have also tried not stirring the mixture yet of the vinegar and soy sauce and allowed the acidity to evaporate. I observed that the result is the same as stirring it (a little bit only). Time is really needed to let the vinegar really cook with stirring or without being touched and let its acidity go away... Whatever works for you! :)
The simmering process can go for about 20 minutes or until the pork belly is already dark and it looks like it has already absorbed all the flavors. If you simmer longer than that, it will kind of caramelize, with the skin and fat popping and getting a bit crispy and the adobo will be somewhat semi-saucy to a bit dry. Yung tipong mabibitin ka and you'll ask for some more.
Bye for now! :-)