Adobo is the most popular Filipino dish, ask any non-Filipino to name a Filipino dish, this will definitely be their answer. A dish that has existed for quite some time now, where it was a well-known preservation technique that Filipinos used dating back to the Pre-Hispanic Period.
On its most basic form, meats like chicken or pork is stewed in vinegar and soy sauce infused with tons of garlic but due to its long past people from every parts of the Philippines introduced different ingredients making different varieties of this dish, some omit the soy sauce, some use annatto seeds, others use turmeric, some use vegetable and there are just few of the examples. Having thought of that I guess most Filipino families would have their own recipe for this beloved dish adjusting it depending on their preferences and ingredients on where they are based.
I had a first-hand experience on the matter as I lived in Hong Kong and Malaysia for 7 years and living on those places more than 15 years ago poses issues as Philippine ingredients are not readily available in most shops so we ended up substituting with what’s available. Moving forward we are here in New Zealand, for quite some time now, while before it was challenging as well to find Filipino ingredients, now they are widely distributed on Asian shops. Now since the Filipino soy sauce and Filipino vinegar is not an issue we will create an adobo that is Kiwi in style but still with the Filipino flair, so we will remove the pork and chicken and instead replacing that with the staple meat in New Zealand, the beef, one of the best produce this country have to offer. And to make it more Kiwi, I was thinking of using Maori potatoes but was quite unlucky with my find, so ended up using pearl potatoes.
Adobo perhaps is the worthy crown holder of the Philippine national dish title, this humble dish of meat stewed in soy By using beef, the method of cooking adobo will be quite different, using steak cuts will not yield an adobo taste in the meat as you will need to cook it quick, so I choose beef cheeks and tendon as the cooking process will be really slow, easily imparting flavours to the meat. It will also imitate the pork belly texture as you have the meat part, from the cheeks then the tendon part that acts like fat. The result was phenomenal, life changing, one of the best adobos I ever tried #pinakamasarap.
In a pot add beef stock and tendons, bring to a boil then simmer for 1 hours in low heat.
In a pot boil potatoes for 15 minutes, drain then set aside. Let it cool then pan fry potatoes until lightly brown on both sides.
In a large pan heat oil then brown beef cheeks. Push it on the side then add garlic and sauté using low heat until golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a pressure cooker the tendons with the liquid it was boiled with, the browned beef cheeks its oil and garlic, cane vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, bay leaves and whole pepper corns. Pressure cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Place wok on top of burner on the highest heat setting, pour everything from the pressure cooker, bring to a rapid boil then let it continue to boil in high heat until the liquid has reduced.
Mix 1 tsp cornstarch in 2 tbsp of water then pour the mixture in the wok together with the potatoes.
Adjust the flavour to your liking, balancing the soy sauce, vinegar and sugar.