There are many ways to cook Filipino adobo as there are many Filipino hands cooking them. Adding to the long list of this omnipresent dish is Adobong Puti or White Adobo. As the name suggests, white adobo is cooked without any trace of soy sauce. It emphasizes the use of the most basic ingredients: vinegar and salt. This variation is the most favored by the Filipino purists since it is closest to our traditional way of cooking adobo. During the pre-Hispanic era and long before the Spanish marinades came to approach our shores, the ingredients of the Pinoy adobo were already existent. Filipino natives, similar to many cultures based in warm climate, had already developed various methods of preserving food. Primitive Filipinos were known to cook their food minimally through moist-and-heat techniques like steaming, roasting or boiling. And to retain the freshness of food and to keep consumable for a longer time, they used plenty of salt and vinegar in their cooking. Acid and sodium, as science taught us, slow down the progress of spoilage-causing bacteria. It was only when Chinese traders came to our land that soy sauce was introduced and found its way to our once nameless vinegar-braised dish, gradually and ultimately taking the salt out of the scene.
|Adobo is a Pinoy dish that has been passed on from generations to generations.|
This traditional adobo could have been around for centuries now. The simple cooking method and the use of minimal ingredients is a reflection of the simplicity of the life of the early Filipinos. But then, the absence of soy sauce or sophisticated spices does not make it less of a winner in the Filipino palate. The irresistible garlicky-vinegar sauce with mild piquancy of peppercorns slathered on fork-tender meat utterly makes a great companion for steaming hot rice. It is always true that the simplest dishes that have been passed on from generations to generations and cooked with pure love and affection are unquestionably the best. We, Filipinos, are family-loving people and we only want the best for our family. Indeed, adobo has become a benchmark of every Filipina homemaker who is learning to master the four corners of the kitchen and how good the dish turns out is how a matriarch would judge her future daughter-in-law.
|The absence of soy sauce or sophisticated spices does not make it less of a winner in the Filipino palate.|
In 2002, a romantic comedy-drama movie named after this famous dish was released in the Philippines and in the U.S. and was entitled, “American Adobo”. It was directed by a veteran Filipina film director, Laurice Guillen and co-produced by Kevin J. Foxe. Adobo - a dish that comprises acidic and salty ingredients, that oftentimes requires time in marinating, boiling and braising in order to extract and maximize its full flavors – was used as a metaphor for the complicated relationships among clashing personalities as they brawl with their individual issues on love, friendship, sex, career and cultural identity. The story revolves around five Filipino-American friends in New York City in their late thirties and early forties. Tere is an accountant who loves to cook and throw parties for her friends but unhappily single at her age. Mike is the most politically committed in the group, a well-accomplished newspaper editor but feeling frustrated in his marriage. Desirable and sweet-natured Gerry, a successful art director, is a closeted gay and afraid to admit his sexuality to his family and friends. Aside from his sexual struggles, he is also facing a strong pressure from his elderly mother who abhors homosexuality and ruthlessly nags him to produce grandchildren. Meanwhile, there is Raul, a good-looking preening lothario whose promiscuity towards Caucasian ladies ends with a telephone call from a former hookup informing him that she is positive for HIV. Lastly, Marissa, Raul’s cousin, a rich social butterfly who is a sexually avid woman but feeling woeful because of her insecurities and weakness for shallow, unfaithful alluring boys. The characters are full of encounters and do not luck emotional energy. But just like the tasty well-cooked adobo, all conflicts are resolved and everything eventually falls into place.
Adobong Puti (White Adobo)
Number of Servings: 6 to 8
- 2 lbs. chicken or pork (or a combination of two), sliced into adobo chops
- 1 cup vinegar
- 1 tbsp. salt
- 2 cups water
- 1 head small garlic, chopped
- 1 thumb-sized ginger, julienned (optional)
- 1 tsp. black peppercorns, coarsely chopped
- 3 pcs. dahon ng laurel (bay leaves)
- cooking oil
- Heat a small amount of cooking oil in a saucepan. Sauté the garlic and ginger (if using chicken) for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the meat (chicken, pork or both) and cook until the color lightens, tossing occasionally.
- Add the vinegar and pour in the water, just enough to cover the meat. Add peppercorns and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then set to simmer until the meat is tender, about 15 minutes if using chicken and 20 minutes if using pork.
- Remove the meat and set aside the sauce.
- Heat oil in a separate frying pan. Sear the meat for 3 to 5 minutes or until light brown. Do it in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan.
- Return the meat in the sauce and bring back to simmer. Continue cooking until the sauce is reduced and rendering fat.
- Remove from heat and serve along with hot steamed rice. Enjoy!
TIPS FROM ENZ:
- This can be kept in a sealed container and frozen for several months. Divide into tiny portions, thaw and re-heat on stovetop before serving.