Adobo, meaning marinade, is a style of cooking popular in Filipino culture in which meat is first marinated and then cooked in vinegar, soy sauce and garlic. Traditionally, pork adobo is made using cubed pork belly, but this version calls for using the leaner center cut pork loin. For this recipe inspired by Serious Eats, you don't need to marinate the dish ahead of time, because the pork gets infused with traditional adobo flavors while it slowly cooks. A quick shred near the end of cooking followed by an hour of additional cooking time adds a finishing flavor boost to the pork.
- 2 1/2 to 3 pound pork loin, boneless center cut
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 5 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 to 3 dried bay leaves
- 1 to 2 dried chili peppers
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
Add all of the ingredients except the pork to a slow cooker and stir to combine. Add the pork and spoon the liquid over the top of the meat to coat. Put the cover on the slow cooker and cook on low for around seven hours, flipping halfway through the cooking time.
Shred the pork into large chunks in the slow cooker with two forks. Submerge the shredded pork in the cooking liquid and let it cook for an additional hour to allow the meat infuse with more flavor.
Fish out and discard the bay leaves. Serve the pork and its juices over a bed of rice.
Substitutions and Variations
- If you don’t have rice wine vinegar, replace it with apple cider vinegar, which will impart more sweetness to the pork ,or white wine vinegar which will add more tang.
- Leave the dried chili peppers out if you don’t like heat. Or replace the dried chili peppers with freshly diced jalapenos or Thai chilies.
- Make the flavors your own. Try adding red bell pepper, onions or potatoes to create a flavorful, well-rounded dish. Add in diced pineapple or a spoonful or two of brown sugar, or replace the water with coconut milk to add subtle sweetness. Turmeric adds an earthiness and distinct yellowish hue to the finished dish.
- If you don't have a slow cooker, prepare the pork adobo the traditional way. Cut the pork into 1- to 2-inch cubes, then marinate for 30 minutes to an hour in some of the cooking liquid, using just enough to coat the pork pieces. Briefly sear the pork cubes over medium-high heat in a saucepan, then add the rest of the cooking liquid. Simmer over medium heat, covered, for 45 minutes to an hour, until the pork is tender.
If you don’t have bay leaves on hand, substitute 1/4 teaspoon of thyme for one bay leaf.