What to taste on Philippines? Pork Adobo

Adobo has been our de facto Pambansang Ulam for the longest time. It is the dish we are best known for, with entire cookbooks devoted to it.

Unlike Spain and Mexico’s adobado (pork cooked in wine as the pickling ingredient), filipino's adobo is cooked with vinegar, not wine, which gives it its distinct flavor, acts as a meat tenderizer and a preservative, significant in places without refrigeration. Adobo is the end result of braising or stewing any ingredient—meat, poultry, seafood, vegetables, even game, mole crickets or balut—in vinegar and garlic. To this, soy sauce, salt, bay leaf and black peppercorns can be added.

This unfussy approach has challenged us to constantly tweak the dish and put our own unique stamp on it. No two adobos are exactly alike. Its versatility has spawned countless regional takes as the basic flavors meld quite easily with a range of ingredients: soy sauce, coconut milk, certain fruits, other spices, depending on what is available or in season in a particular locale. Bicol has adobo sa gata, the Visayas has its humba, Batangas has adobong baka, and then there’s adobong puti, adobo sa pula, adobong dilaw and more. Still, to a Filipino, an adobo is an adobo is an adobo. Whether it’s adobong kangkong (swamp cabbage) shared by a family in the countryside or garlicky CPA (Chicken Pork Adobo) with its unmistakable aroma wafting through any Filipino home across the globe, no other dish gives away our proudly Pinoy selves so easily and openly by its mere presence. So when pressed to choose a single dish that’s worthy of the coveted title Pambansang Ulam, stand up for the one which unites us in our diversity while bringing out the best in each of us. Adobo deserves our vote