Filipino Pork Belly Adobo

pork belly adoboIt’s been three years since I wrote about adobo.

Three years ago, my family’s recipe for pork and chicken adobo was published in Molly O’Neil’s One Big Table. I was so immensely proud – adobo is the most Filipino of all foods. It’s the unofficial national dish of the Philippines, so deliciously ingrained in our culture, that just the thought of the fragrant stew can make any Filipino think fondly of home. This is what I said before, and it’s still true now:

My family’s go-to dish, like so many other Filipinos living abroad, is adobo. It does not matter that the dish takes hours to cook and the smell of it stays in the apartment for days – it brings us a taste of home. All Filipino families each have their own recipes for adobo. It’s any meat or any combination of meats that is braised and simmered in vinegar, soy sauce, lots of garlic, black peppercorn, and bay leaves. Every family claims that their version is the best.

A couple of weeks ago, I made adobo again with Dan from The Food in my Beard. We’ve been talking about cooking Filipino food together for months (maybe years?) and we finally made a trip to Asian grocery store H-Mart to buy the ingredients…  although all the ingredients we used are actually available in most grocery stores, and not necessarily a specialty one (it was also a nice excuse to have lunch there).

filipino pork adobo

We made Pork Belly Adobo and Vegetarian Lumpia (lumpia recipe to be posted later this week) and spent a few hours braising the unctuous cut of meat. The Pork Belly Adobo is a very fatty, high-calorie dish, and it’s certainly not something you eat every day, but it is worth the indulgence. After hours of braising, the pork belly transforms into meltingly tender meat, filled with the garlicky flavors of the sauce. A sear on a cast-iron pan after braising creates a nice brown crust and further seals in the flavors.

Adobo is traditionally served with hot, fluffy white rice. And on that note, you should know that in the Philippines, rice is served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Snacks and desserts are sometimes rice-based, too. Also: Did you know that Filipinos eat using a spoon and fork? Not chopsticks, not knife and fork, just spoon and fork.

If you can’t find pork belly or want to try another cut, you can look for country style spare ribs in your grocery store (look for something that has even just a little bit of fat, because that really contributes to the overall flavor). You can substitute chicken (I recommend bone-in, skin-on thighs) or beef (spare ribs), and you can add vegetables (spinach, green beans). But we wanted to create the traditional version so we stuck with pork belly, and we wended up with a dish that could’ve been served straight up from my family’s kitchen in the Philippines.

filipino pork belly adobo


Yield: serves 10

Filipino Pork Belly Adobo


3 pounds pork belly
1 ½ cups vinegar
½ cup soy sauce
10 garlic cloves (around 1 whole head of garlic), smashed
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon coarse salt
8-10 dried bay leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. Place the pork, vinegar, soy sauce, bay leaves, salt, peppercorns, and seven of the smashed garlic cloves in a shallow pot over medium heat. Add one cup water, plus more if necessary, to barely cover the meat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 1 hour.
  2. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pork and set aside. Allow the broth to continue simmering.
  3. In a large skillet or flat griddle, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the remaining garlic cloves. Add pork and sear each piece on both sides until golden brown.
  4. Return pork to the pot, and reduce the sauce by simmering for another hour to half an hour, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens to your liking.

Some versions of adobo have coconut milk, some versions omit the soy sauce altogether, some versions have added sugar or hard-boiled eggs or chilis. This version is my family’s but it’s also a pretty classic preparation (and the best recipe out there). If you ever make it, I’d love to hear about it!

Dan also posted about the adobo on his blog, check it out!


33 Responses to “Filipino Pork Belly Adobo”

  1. #
    Kathryn posted March 31, 2014 at 5:52 am

    This sounds so good! I can’t wait to make a real traditional Filipino version of this dish.

    • Bianca Garcia replied March 31st, 2014 at 1:02 pm

      Thanks, Kathryn! It is delicious :)

  2. #
    Monica posted March 31, 2014 at 6:47 am

    That is one gorgeous plate of food! I just want to dig in. Love that pork belly but the rice is cooked to perfection, too, by the way. You got me thinking about how Chinese lunch boxes always came with a little low spoon (instead of fork or chopsticks) back in HK. I loved that for some reason. Have a great week!

    • Bianca Garcia replied March 31st, 2014 at 1:03 pm

      Thanks, Monica! Credit goes to Dan for the styling :) I’d love to go to HK one day and try one of those lunch boxes!

  3. #
    Joanne posted March 31, 2014 at 6:49 am

    I know so little about Filipino food so it’s awesome to find some good authentic recipes! I can’t wait for the lumpia, but the pork belly looks great!!

    • Bianca Garcia replied March 31st, 2014 at 1:04 pm

      Thanks, girl. You’ll love the vegetarian lumpia :)

  4. #
    Mike@TheIronYou posted March 31, 2014 at 8:42 am

    I’m not huge on pork belly but your looks amazing. I’m definitely trying it Bianca!

    • Bianca Garcia replied March 31st, 2014 at 1:05 pm

      Thanks, Mike! This would definitely work with other cuts of pork, too.

  5. #
    Natalie @ Tastes Lovely posted March 31, 2014 at 11:35 am

    The flavors in this sound amazing! I’ve never had filipino adobo, but will need to be changing that very soon.

    • Bianca Garcia replied March 31st, 2014 at 1:05 pm

      Yes, definitely try it soon!

  6. #
    whatjessicabakednext posted March 31, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    This looks divine- I’m new to Filipino food. So definitely going to have to give your recipe a go!

    • Bianca Garcia replied March 31st, 2014 at 1:06 pm

      Thanks, girl. Filipino food is definitely underrated but I can assure you it’s pretty amazing :)

  7. #
    Rosa @HHR posted March 31, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Oh wow, this looks really good. Can’t go wrong with garlic and pork belly! I’ve never had a dish that’s seared after braising.

  8. #
    Amy @ Elephant Eats posted March 31, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Oh my gosh, this pork belly looks amazing!!! I don’t think I’ve ever had adobo!

  9. #
    vanillasugarblog posted March 31, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    don’t you love how versatile pork belly is?
    I mean you can add almost any sweet or savory spice to it?
    So needless to say this creation sounds heavenly

  10. #
    Meghan posted March 31, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    This looks so amazing! I made an adobo chicken once, and I LOVED the flavors. I can only imagine how fantastic yours is!

  11. #
    Megan {Country Cleaver} posted March 31, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    I just had some amazing pork belly this weekend – now it’s on my brain!! I can’t get over how amazing it was. I have to try it at home!

  12. #
    Ashley @ Wishes & Dishes posted April 1, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    I can just imagine how amazing the flavors are in this…it’s been too long since I had pork belly. Looks great!

  13. #
    Cailee @ posted April 1, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    This looks so tasty! Hearty and delightful!! :) YUM!

  14. #
    Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella posted April 1, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    Ooh I’ve only eaten this but never cooked it. I enjoyed it so much so thanks for the recipe! :D

  15. #
    ashley - baker by nature posted April 1, 2014 at 11:11 pm

    I loooooove Filipino food! This pork belly —————–> AMAZING!

  16. #
    Georgia | The Comfort of Cooking posted April 2, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Wow, does that look mouthwatering! I could totally go for a big bowlful for lunch!

  17. #
    Juliana posted April 2, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Wow Bianca, this pork belly is sure cooked to perfection, love the color and all the flavors in it…delicious!
    Thanks for the recipe and hope you are having a fantastic week :D

    • Bianca Garcia replied April 2nd, 2014 at 10:14 pm

      Thank you, Juliana! Pork belly could be tricky sometimes but I think this adobo is a fool proof way to cook it :)

  18. #
    Patty posted April 2, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    I can just smell this simmering on the stove-a dish I could come back to again and again!!

  19. #
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert posted April 2, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    Oh this sounds amazing! Love all that garlic and a peek at the real deal!

    • Bianca Garcia replied April 2nd, 2014 at 10:13 pm

      Thanks, Tricia! Definitely a dish for garlic lovers ;)

  20. #
    marcie posted April 3, 2014 at 12:05 am

    Bianca, this looks incredible! One of my old co-workers used to make adobo for our gatherings, and this reminds me of her dish. I really miss it, so I’ll have to try making your recipe!

  21. #
    Stacy | Wicked Good Kitchen posted April 3, 2014 at 12:44 am

    Bianca, your authentic Filipino Pork Belly Adobo just went on my must make asap list, like yesterday not eons from now, kinda list! Thank you for sharing your backstory and how this recipe was featured in another book. Truly outstanding!

  22. #
    Ision posted May 12, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    What kind of vinegar do you use?

    • Bianca Garcia replied May 12th, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      I use distilled white vinegar.

  23. #
    Cindy posted May 13, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    Hi! Am cooking this right now but with chicken! Thank you so much for sharing!!!

  24. #
    Samantha posted May 28, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    Can’t wait to make this for my husband. Thank you.

Leave a Comment