Adobong Pina-uga from Hikay

DSC_0010Adobo is inarguably the national dish of the Philippines. It is every Filipinos’ favorite dish.

But like everything else, we each have our way of interpreting this dish but the base is always vinegar, bay leaf, black pepper and garlic. We adobo any meat, poultry, vegetables and fish.

In Ilocos, the region where my father came from, we cook adobo the basic way but we use our native vinegar made from sugar cane. My mother came from Southern Luzon so she would add some soy sauce for color to the pale Ilocano adobo. The soy sauce was added to the list of ingredients after the Chinese came to the Philippines.

When she made chicken adobo she also added ginger to remove the gamey smell. When one of my relatives joined us to care for my Mom we had a debate in our household as she would add onions to her adobo which to me was not authentic but which she said she learned from her friends.

I could have my adobo dry or with sauce. That is a personal preference.

My friend, Louella Alix, authored a cookbook released this year featuring the culinary heritage of Cebu, a Philippine island in the Visayas. It is titled, Hikay – The Culinary Heritage of Cebu. The term Hikay means to cook a feast or simply to cook in the Cebuano dialect.

I simply love the book not just because the photographs are beautiful and inviting but her recipes are doable and does not call for “hard to find” ingredients. The adage less is more is true most of the times in cooking because you taste the food for what they are, not masked by some overwhelming ingredient. I remember an Italian co-worker who was not fond of spicy food because all he could taste, he said, was the hot pepper.

Here is her simple recipe which I can confidently say is very good but which I must warn you, you must have enough rice to go with it.

1 kilo or 2 pounds pork with fat (I used pork belly)
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup vinegar (easy on apple cider vinegar if you are using it as it very acidic, I used cane vinegar but any would do)
8 cloves garlic
1 laurel leaf
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp. turmeric (I used fresh turmeric)
salt to taste

Cut pork to 4 inch pieces.

Peel and mash the garlic.

Place pork and other ingredients in a wok or shallow pan. Boil until dry.

Let the pork fat melt in slow fire, while stirring constantly. Add 1/3 cup oil and continue to stir until golden brown.


This is a dry adobo (without sauce) but if you want, once the meat is tender and if there is still enough sauce, reserve some on the side. Filipinos love to mix sauce with their rice for added flavor.

For a shortcut, I transferred the meat in a baking pan and turn on the broiler for a couple of minutes to crisp the skin and to render the fat faster.

Great with sliced tomatoes.

365 Project: Day 75

This entry was posted in Food, Friendships, Philippines, Remembering Mom, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Adobong Pina-uga from Hikay

  1. lolaWi says:

    yumm… looks like lechon kawali!


  2. Amy says:

    I think the vinegar does the trick 🙂 Thank you for sharing!


  3. bebs1 says:

    lolaWi, let me find out if it is supposed to be crispy. But it was really excellent.


  4. bebs1 says:

    Filipinos love to mix their flavors – salty and sour in this case. Sometimes they would add a little sugar for sweetness or use pineapple. But the souring agent is always vinegar.


  5. viveka says:

    Easy recipe …. not many ingredients – you made me find out what laurel leaf was – never heard that before. Bay leaf … I thought it could be that. Going to try this .. have a little bit pork to use up. Thanks for sharing.


  6. Hikay is such a great cookbook! I drew inspiration from it when I made binignit today. Read all about it here:


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