Some guy wrote an article online in which he said that he stopped counting at 7200 adobo recipes. Adobo is known as the national dish of the Phillippines. I've never been there, but I live in the San Fancisco area and Filipino-Americans are one of the largest ethnic groups in the area. I read that there are 5 million F-As in the US, making it the third largest ethnic group in the country. Compared with the much smaller Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese ethnic minorities, Filipina food has received very little attention.
My sister-in-law is of Filipino extraction. I used to visit her parents when they were alive and had some outstanding Filipina meals. It is a cuisine that deserves to be up there. The big problem is that the food is mostly cooked at home, and there are relatively very few Filipino restaurants, even in the Bay area.
Reduced to essentials, adobo consists of a protein cooked in salt and vinegar. It evolved because the process prevented food from spoiling in the tropical climate of the Phillippine islands. In its modern incarnations, different spices and chiles area added along with a liquid that can be water, stock or coconut milk. Pork and chicken are the proteins you will find most often in restaurants, but seafood and beef can be used as well. Soy sauce is ofen used in place of salt, a variation that I like. You can also change the flavor profile by using different vinegars. Cider vinegar is popular, but my favorite is sherry vinegar. Neither product comes from the Phillippines!
No matter which way you go, adobo is generally easy to make and delicious. A great dish for two or a crowd. Below is a variation I like. Adjust the cooking time in accordance with the type of protein you are using. For example, the cooking time for pork tenderloin will be much less than fronm a cut of "stew meat". If you use chicken, I recommend using skin-on, boneless thighs.
2 Lbs Pork, cubed or 8 chicken thighs with excess fat removed
1/2 Cup Soy sauce
1-2 Tbs Cooking oil
1/2 Cup Sherry or cider vinegar
2 Cups Chicken stock, water or 1 can lite or regular coconut milk
1 Tbs Peppercorns
4 Bay leaves
1 Small head of garlic, cloves smashed and peeled
Hot chiles or red pepper flakes to taste
2-3 Tbs Chopped scallions for garnish
Put the meat in a plastic bag and pour in the soy sauce. Squish it around, seal the bag and place in the fridge for 30 - 120 minutes. Remove the meat, reserving the soy sauce, and dry it off with a paper towel. Heat the oil in a large skillet or sauté pan and brown the meat on all sides. Reserve the meat, pour off the fat and discard it.
Add the soy sauce and all the remaining ingredients to the pan except the garnish and bring it to the boil, scraping the pan with a wooden spatula to deglaze it. Put the meat in the pan and simmer until the meat is tender for pork or 160° - 175° for chicken thighs, turning once or twice during the cooking.
Remove the meat to a platter or serving bowl and tent to keep warm. Reduce the liquid in the pan over high heat until it thickens to the consistency you like, 5 - 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, garlic cloves, chiles and peppercorns. Pour the sauce over the meat and garnish with scallions.
Hint: if you put the peppercorns in a tea infuser, they will be easy to remove.