Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Adobo Pork & Congee

Stretch the spice with two Asian classics
From the Boston Globe

Filipino food gets lost among the choices of Southeast Asian cuisines. An approachable introduction to the islands’ food is the stew called adobo, which can be made with a variety of meats. A long cooking period lets the piquant nature of vinegar, soy sauce, and peppers meld flawlessly with the tender braised meat. It’s as easy as cooking gets: All the ingredients go into one pot, and essentially all you have to do is skim the surface often to remove excess fat.

Adobo pork makes a satisfying supper. Use small pieces of pork butt. Add a jalapeno and peppercorns (the dish should be a little spicy), but remove the peppercorns before serving. The dish simmers for more than an hour, until the pork is quite tender; then you have to let the cooking liquid bubble over high heat until it reduces and intensifies. Pair the dish with long-grain white rice. For Monday’s dinner, save some of the pork and rice for congee.

Congee, or rice porridge, is traditionally served as breakfast in China. Think of it as Asian risotto, which can serve as a main dish for supper. The simple flavors of the soup provide a blank canvas on which the punchy adobo shines. Once you have leftover adobo and rice, the dish is quick to make. Saute ginger, scallions, and garlic in a pan, pour in chicken stock, water, and the leftovers from Sunday. Simmer briefly, garnish with a few more scallions and a drop of dark sesame oil. Two classics blend together to create a recipe that you will revisit again and again.

Adobo pork
Serves 4 with leftovers


3 cups long-grain white rice
4 1/2 cups water

1. In a fine mesh sieve, rinse rice well under cold running water.

2. In a large pot with a tight-fitting lid, combine the rice and water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.

3. Remove the rice from the heat and let it sit, covered, for 5 minutes. (Set aside 4 cups cooked rice for the congee.)


4 pounds boneless pork butt, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
3 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno or other chili pepper, halved
Salt, to taste
2 scallions, thinly sliced

1. In a large flameproof casserole, combine pork, vinegar, soy sauce, peppercorns, bay leaf, garlic, and jalapeno. Stir well.

2. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low, and cover the pot.

3. Simmer for 45 minutes, occasionally skimming fat from the surface.

4. Remove the lid and continue cooking over medium heat for 30 minutes more or until the pork is extremely tender. (Total cooking time is 1 hour and 15 minutes.)

5. With a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to a bowl; set aside. Skim the fat from the cooking juices. Bring liquid to a boil and let it bubble steadily until it reduces by half.

6. Place the pork in the pan. Continue cooking for 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add salt, if you like.

7. Remove and discard the bay leaf, jalapeno, and peppercorns. (Set aside 1 1/2 cups pork and cooking juices for the congee.)

8. Spoon the remaining pork mixture over the rice. Garnish with scallions.

Congee (rice porridge)
Serves 4

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 piece (1 inch) fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 scallions, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups adobo pork and cooking juices
1 quart chicken stock
2 cups water
4 cups cooked rice
1/4 cup soy sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
Sesame oil (for sprinkling)

1. In a large flameproof casserole, heat the oil over high heat. Add ginger, garlic, and half the scallions. Cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes.

2. Add the pork mixture, chicken stock, water, cooked rice, and soy sauce. Bring the liquid to a boil, lower the heat to medium, and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, if you like.

3. Ladle into bowls. Garnish each serving with a few drops of sesame oil and the remaining scallions.