Crispy Pork Belly Adobo

Before I moved to New York ten years ago, I always thought that Filipino cuisine was obscure and unknown, even if Filipinos were everywhere and have never been shy in replicating their home-cooked meals wherever they ended up in the world. 
I am glad that the “authorities” have recognized the basic meat dish called adobo as something short of a little-known miracle in stew preparation, as I’ve discussed here.  Of course I’m not satisfied with just enumerating the four ways I make adobo, I need to go into detail about at least one of them, perhaps the most tedious of all to prepare but is oh-so very worth the effort.
Crispy Pork Belly Adobo not only creates tender pieces of pork stewed in the mixture of soy sauce, vinegar and garlic, it is broiled in an oven for a few minutes for the skin to bubble and create that unmistakable crunch provided only by a dry and scorched pork skin, similar to another popular Filipino dish crispy pata but using belly instead of hock, but with the distinct flavor of adobo, bay leaves and garlic. 
Here it is served with grilled eggplant and rice. 

We begin with a few pieces of pork belly skin-side up in a pot, one part each of soy sauce, vinegar and water, plus a head of crushed garlic, bay leaves and peppercorns.
It’s always important to note that this dish works best with Filipino soy sauce, a dark blend of rich soy, as opposed to thinner and lighter sauces like Kikkoman and some other Chinese versions. Filipino soy sauce is available in most Asian markets. 
The belly is simmered on low heat for about 90 minutes, covered. 
This is how it is after thirty minutes.
Turn the pieces on one side for the next thirty minutes.
And on the other side for another thirty. Make sure to keep the heat to a low simmer and watch the meat for tenderness or else it will fall apart. 
After the meat is tender, put the skin side up and keep the lid off to let the skin dry.
For best results, turn it off and leave it uncovered overnight or for a few hours so the skin dries and is easy to make crispy in the broiler.
Remove meat pieces from the pot and arrange skin side up in a baking dish.
Bake for 15 minutes at 375C to warm up the meat. Transfer to top rack and broil on low for five minutes, watching closely that the skin does not burn but just bubble into a crispy texture.
Remove dish promptly and serve with warm adobo sauce on the side.
Adobo goes well with rice and vegetable dishes such as grilled eggplant, steamed bokchoy, choy sum, and other greens. We like serving it with mung bean soup for our Filipino Cuisine 101 menu. Recipes to come. Enjoy!

Crispy Pork Belly Adobo


3-4 pounds pork belly, cut into 2-3 inch square pieces
1 parts white, apple cider or cane vinegar
1 part  water
1 part soy sauce (Silver Swan, or any other Filipino brand works, do NOT use Kikkoman or Japanese soy sauce)
5 bay leaves
1 head garlic, crushed and peeled
1 tsp black peppercorns

Simmer all ingredients in a covered pot with the belly meat side down for about 90 minutes, turning on each side until tender. Allow skin to dry by leaving the pot uncovered before arranging in a baking dish with the skin side up. Bake for fifteen minutes at 375C, then broil on low for 5 minutes, watching closely for burning. You only want the skin to harden and bubble to get that distinct crunch. Serve with a vegetable side and rice. Mangia!

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