Recipe : The Captain’s Filipino Pork Adobo

by Ginny on April 7, 2012

Our pal Christian, a.k.a. The Captain,  used to make big pots of this adobo at the pilot house in Juneau . Full of spicy, sweet flavor it filled the kitchen with the most mouth-watering aroma, and never failed to conjure a crowd. He let me jot down what he put in it, but since he went by feel, he didn’t have any measurements to offer. After some tinkering I came up with a recipe I could pass on to you.

Here are some notes you may find helpful:  For a stew, this cooks up quite fast, and boils rather than simmers, like most braising-type recipes prescribe. In testing, I simmered this over low heat, thinking it would be better somehow. It was delicious, but took 3 1/2 hours for the pork to get tender and with no definite difference in flavor. So I say turn up the heat and boil away for great adobo in a fraction of the time. Also, it may strike you as odd to add so much pickling spice, full of whole cloves, coriander seeds, bay leaves, and allspice berries, but rest assured that once it cooks down those whole spices are tender to the bite. If you have a sensitive tummy, you may want to try grinding the pickling spice down in a coffee or spice grinder, but I’ve come to love the bold kicks of flavor the bits of bark and berries offer in this incomparable dish. Oh, and P.S.- This would make a great freezer meal.   


  • 4 lb. pork shoulder or butt roast (or 3 to 3 1/2 pounds trimmed stew meat)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon Mongolian fire oil (a.k.a. hot pepper sesame oil, or chili oil)
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed or canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 [15 ounce] cans Hunt’s tomato sauce (the Captain says Hunt’s is a must)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons pickling spice
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 cups long grain white rice (uncooked)

Trim fat from pork roast and cut into 1-inch cubes. Place pork in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with cayenne, black pepper, and paprika. Toss to coat.

In a large, wide-bottomed soup pot with a lid, heat the fire oil and grapeseed oil over high heat until shimmery. Add pork and minced garlic, and saute until browned, about 10 minutes. Add the cans of tomato sauce and 1 can of water. Stir in salt, cider vinegar, pickling spice, and red wine. Bring to a steady boil over medium or medium-high heat, and cook partially-covered for 30 to 45 minutes or until pork is tender and sauce has reduced and thickened a bit.

While adobo is cooking, prepare rice according to package instructions. Serve adobo over rice.

Serves 6 – 8


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