Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Recipe Recommendation: My Family's Adobo

Well, it’s Culinary Week here on the blog, I’ve decided. Something Julia Child said about her boeuf a la bourguignonne made me think of this dish, and then, since I’ve been feeling bad about not supporting my vegetarian readers, I hunted down one of my favorite vegetarian recipes online, which I plan to share with you tomorrow. Even this week’s agent interview fits, because the agent whose interview I already had scheduled represents cookbooks. Totally. Awesome. Coincidence.

Anyway, here’s that thing Julia Child said about her boeuf a la bourguignonne: “Carefully done, and perfectly flavored, it is certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man.” That may be the case, Julia, but it in no way rivals the best-tasting meat I’ve ever eaten. That honor, I’m happy to say, belongs to a little Filipino dish called adobo.

My grandfather was born in Manila in 1922, immigrated to the US in the late 1930s, and married my Danish-stock grandmother in 1950. (Yeah, don’t even get me started on the awesomeness that is my grandpa’s life story. I could probably write a whole book about it, especially since, you know, I like to write.) Luckily for us, he brought adobo with him.

Adobo is the name Spanish conquerors gave to the uniquely Filipino dish that involves marinating meat in vinegar, lots of vinegar, for lots and lots of hours. Every family has a slightly different take on this classic recipe, but I once served our family’s version to a Philippine native who had recently moved to the States, and she said it was the best adobo she’d ever had:)

And so, without further ado (although there's been a lot of ado so far), the recipe:

My Family’s Adobo

4 pounds boneless pork spareribs or rolled pork roast
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup Sprite
1 cup frozen pineapple juice concentrate, thawed but NOT reconstituted
2 teaspoons garlic powder
4 teaspoons black pepper

Cut the pork into 2-inch chunks. Combine the other ingredients in a large pot. Add the pork chunks to the pot, cover, and marinate in the fridge overnight. The next day, uncover the pot and bring it to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, for 3 to 5 hours. Serve over rice.

Now I'm not sure how much of this is my grandpa's original recipe and how much we Americanized (because as rich as my great-grandparents were by Filipino standards (my great-grandfather actually received a law degree from the University of Michigan), I'm not sure how much access they would have had to things like Sprite and frozen pineapple juice concentrate:) ), but frankly, I don't care. The meat is beyond fork-tender by the time it’s done cooking, and it’s got that nice kick of Asian spice.

If you do try this one, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to drop me an e-mail or leave a belated comment. (I’ve enabled comment moderation on all posts older than a week, so I’ll be sure to see it!)

In the meantime, what are some of your favorite around-the-world dishes, and how did you discover them?


A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you. I love Filipino food! I am so excited to try this!!

Yum, yum, yum.


Anne R. Allen said...

Thank you! I've been served wonderful Adobo, but had no idea how it was made. This looks like even I could do it. Interesting that it contains the secret traditional ingredient, Sprite. I wonder what that would have been originally--sweetened lime juice?

Krista V. said...

Amy, I wondered if you might have been exposed to Filipino food in the past. I have a lumpia recipe you'd probably like, too.

Anne, it is super easy. And actually, I think the Sprite may be part of the Americanization I mentioned. Americans have more of a sweet tooth than just about everyone else in the world, so I think a lot of "authentic" adobo recipes don't involve any kind of sweetener. (My family has been known to substitute Sprite for white wine, though, so maybe that's the original ingredient.)

Holly said...

Here's a simple dish with Japanese roots that I like to make when it's cold outside.

Chop up one winter squash (my favorite is butternut)
Put in a deep saucepan
Add one cup of lentils
Add a small amount of dried kelp
Pour enough water in the saucepan to cover everything
Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for an hour or so

Season with shoyu (a Japanese soy sauce) a minute or two before you serve it. Or season at the table with Ume-Shiso Leaf Sprinkle (an incredible condiment -- ume means plum)

Make this with medium or short grain brown rice and steamed kelp, both cooked separately.

Yum, I could eat this every day.

10,000 words left to revise and the novel goes out the door.
10,000 words left to revise and the novel goes out the door.
10,000 words left to revise and the novel goes out the door.
10,000 words left to revise and the novel goes out the door.

Holly said...

Ooops, that was supposed to be eat with steamed KALE (not steamed kelp). Don't think I could eat a whole heapin' bowl of kelp.

Krista V. said...

Thanks for another great recipe, Holly! I'm glad you corrected it. Kale I can find at the grocery store. (I'm not so sure about kelp; we probably don't have nearly as many specialty ingredients in Mesquite as you do in DC.) Plus, I'm pretty sure I'd prefer the taste of kale:)

Oh, and how exciting that you're only 10,000 words away! When you say "out the door," do you mean "into agents' inboxes"? I'm in the middle of my last round of edits, too, so hopefully I'll be right there with you.

Holly said...

Krista, good luck with your edits. Your novel really sounds great (I still think of it as Bob).

Yes, about 10,000 words to queryland (and I plan to ask for your feedback on my query).

I've spent most of this year adding a storyline and rewriting the novel from scratch.

I retyped everything from a paper copy (instead of editing the old copy on the screen). That probably sounds insane, but when I retype everything I usually say it in a better way.

Krista V. said...

Thanks, Holly. I still think of him as Bob, too:)

I would love to see your new query. (I remember seeing the old one over at Nathan Bransford's forums and liking the premise.) Feel free to send it anytime.

Finally, I don't think retyping everything from a paper copy sounds insane. I occasionally write by hand in a low-tech notebook (usually when I'm hanging out in the living room with my kids), and I always find things to edit when I'm transcribing those handwritten lines. It's always a good idea to change up your method, because it forces you to see things in a different light (and so you see things you wouldn't otherwise see).

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Okay, Krista, I have the adobo marinating in my refrigerator as I type this. Excited to eat it tomorrow. I'm thinking of making a vegetable stir fry on the side. What do you usually do?

Yes, and I read your reply to my comment above. I would LOVE your lumpia recipe!!

Thanks, Amy

Krista V. said...

Amy, vegetable stir fry would be good. We usually eat it with jasmine rice and my grandpa's favorite salad, which always seemed more American than Filipino to me. (It's just lettuce, tomatoes, green onions, and the like in a homemade oil-and-vinegar dressing.)

I'll e-mail you the lumpia recipe sometime. It's a little less, er, precise, so I'll have to see if I can get it into a somewhat share-able state.

Let me know what you think of the adobo!