Friday, January 18, 2008

Sons of Beaches and the Super Adobo

Bring your guitar, bathing clothes, flip flops, beach whatnots… anything you can think of. While everybody was busy with their stuff checklist, there I was, working on the food list. Except for the rice and water, we didn’t bring anything pre- cooked to the beach for as family practice goes, there should always be that primitive scenario: dig on the sand, cook like a caveman. So again, the checklist. Fresh fish, salted eggs, tomatoes, and - everything else it takes to make an adobo.

There wasn’t any beach occasion without this marvelous stew- for in our tribe, there is no better place to eat adobo than on the beach. Nowhere else. There wasn’t any trip where I had to ask, “What do you people want?” For it seems all the time there is a balloon in everyone’s aura that screams, “ADOBO!!”

Just like the numerous flavors of ice cream in the world, there are also many ways to cook adobo all over. You can have chicken, pork, chicken- pork, dog-meat (I’ve never tried this, though), snake adobo (neither this), squid, frog’s legs adobo style, monitor lizard in adobo sauce (and this), catfish, mudfish, tofu, swamp cabbage, string beans, pork knuckles, eggs- almost anything can be cooked adobo. You may or may not add sugar. You may or may not use chili. You can use calamansi or vinegar, add star anise, dried banana flowers , garlic overload – anything you please!

This tasty dish is almost highly associated with the Philippine islands, so, where else is the best place to enjoy than in a cottage by the sea?

So here it is, the super adobo, son-of-a-beach style:

1. Prepare all ingredients first: (Although that day, I was a little dreamy and fictional, feeling like an island nomad who walks down the shore collecting sea shells so I didn’t really use tablespoons)

1 kg. Pork
1 T cooking oil
2 T garlic, sliced (you can add more if you want your adobo garlicky)
2 T onion, sliced
Soy sauce
Bay leaves
Bananas (optional)
2. Boil pork first. While this is boiling, you can work on other ingredients. Cooking the pork first, in my experience, not only makes it extra tender, but it is already cooked that when you add soy sauce, it wont take longer and therefore the soy sauce will not caramelize at once and give a burnt aroma.

3. While pork is cooking, you can throw into the open fire the bananas- this will give the fruits that smoky flavor. Besides, you’re on the beach, so cook as if you’ll never have a glimpse of civilization. Imagine you’re in an island, and you saw a generous banana grove. This makes that beach experience really flavorful. Ok, the bananas. The bananas will cook in a short time. When the banana peels are a little darkened, remove from fire, let cool, peel then slice into about an inch thick.

4. When pork is done, put on the side, then sauté garlic, onion, peppercorns, bay leaves. Add the pork, followed by vinegar.

5. Simmer in vinegar before pouring in the soy sauce.

6. When simmered, add soy sauce and sugar

7. Continue to simmer until the soy sauce coats all meats evenly. It will arrive at that dark adobo look as time moves on. You’ll notice that the soy sauce and sugar will caramelize- but not burnt- with prolonged cooking. This makes the adobo extra delicious.

8. Add the bananas, then salt to taste. Cook for about 10 minutes, then remove from fire.

Super adobo is best served really hot, on a communal meal with the whole tribe, pirate boodle style, on a table lined with banana leaves with rice, grilled fish, salted eggs with tomatoes, then fresh young coconut juice. We were very lucky because we have a farm near the beach making fresh coconut juice always available at hand. After gulping down the juice, you can cut down the coconuts for the meat. Put a little sugar, scrape the flesh- for that perfect dessert as sons and daughters of the beach.


Anonymous said...

Wow...That's my idea of the perfect day at the beach! I love Adobo and your version is scrumptious! Amazing what you can do with a simple camp fire and some fresh ingredients. I tend to forget the essentials of cooking from my over-equipped kitchen.

I wish i had your skills back in my caveman days in Hawaii. You know, put some French men just out of culinary school on a Tropical island and they can barely break-open a coconut ;-)

mschumey07 said...

I believe this is how my wife cooks it. And yes, it is definitely delicious.

foodhuntress79 said...

Zen chef, schumey, for all the deliciousness of the adobo- did you notice the stirring stick? Hahaha- pulled from the cottage fence because I forgot to bring wooden spoon. For all that food list!