Apr 7, 2024

Filipino Adobo Pork - Adding Vinegar Makes Quite a Difference

Cebu might not be the most "Filipino" place in Philippines, but during my visit there, I find myself falling for some of their national dishes, taking adobo pork as one example. The braised pork is actually pretty similar to some of the braised pork versions from Taiwan, but with a big difference in the seasonings used.

Filipino adobo pork requires vinegar, and by all means not just like one tablespoon or few drops of it. For my 425 grams of pork belly used, I actually poured in 1/4 cup of vinegar. Sounds a lot, and I'm not surprised if someone would imagine this dish to be very sourish. However, after cooking down the meat for 30 minutes or so, all that vinegary taste was gone, leaving tender pork as a result, and it was so delicious.

Filipino adobo pork - 

Filipino adobo pork


  • 425 grams pork belly
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup cane vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water


Slice the pork belly to medium chunks. Peel and smash the garlic cloves.

Bring out a pot, add in pork belly and turn to medium heat. There's no need to drizzle any oil here, the pork belly will start rendering some fat to the pot.

Continue to sear till both sides turn slightly browned and some fats start to render.

Searing pork belly chunks

Add in smashed garlics, 2 bay leaves, and 2 teaspoons of black peppercorns. Note that we want the whole peppercorns, not the ground kind. Mix and sear for one minute.

Add in brown sugar, stir and cook for couple minutes.

Searing pork belly with bay leaves, garlics, and peppercorns

Pour in soy sauce, cane or rice vinegar, and water. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to keep the mixture at a light bubbling stage. Put the lid on and continue to cook for about 30 minutes.

Braising pork belly for Filipino adobo pork

Remove the lid and stir the mixture. Switch to higher heat if needed. The goal is to reduce and condense the sauce in order to get a slightly sticky and thickened consistency in the end. Mine took about 2 minutes only.

Reducing the sauce for Filipino adobo pork

The pork should be ready by now. I chose to serve the adobo pork with quinoa basmati rice and some steamed veggies on the side. 

Filipino adobo pork

I think the vinegar really helps in breaking in the meat here, so even after searing and braising, the pork turned out pretty tender in the end while having a concentrated seasoned crust on the outside. It has both the sweet and savory qualities with a bit lingering peppery and herbal note 

Filipino adobo pork

There's one other Filipino dish I really enjoyed while visiting Cebu. Sinigang, that's the name. After Googling it, I learnt that the soup was actually more like a stew with a distinct sourness from tamarind. No wonder I like it so much, I'm the person who always ask for tamarind juice whenever the restaurant sells it. 

Give me more time to dig into sinigang recipes, and hopefully I can put up another Filipino recipe that's at least 90% similar to the taste from my travel memories. 

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