Pork Adobo

About halfway through the week, I asked my dad what meat he wanted to use as the base of our meal for the coming weekend. This has become somewhat of a ritual, as he often has opinions on what meat he wants me to use based on preference and what in his freezer should be used sooner than later… and I like to spend a bit a my downtime throughout the week researching new and exciting recipes featuring said meat.

This week he said pork. I’m always game for pork. Researching pork recipes, however, is a more challenging task than other meats. I knew he had a pork loin that he wanted me to use, but when searching for pork on my favorite recipe page, Food.com, a simple search yields recipes using every part of the pig! Bacon recipes, shoulder recipes, ham recipes, sausage recipes, etc. There is just such a wide variety of pork preparations and types of pig-related meat that sifting through the recipes becomes a greater challenge than, say, for chicken or beef.

My first instinct, however, was pretty simple. I wanted to do a pulled pork. Alas, but most pulled pork recipes are BBQ oriented. This is not necessary a problem, as I much enjoy BBQ sauce and combining it with pork is always a good idea. However, almost every BBQ recipe I found included mass amounts of sugar. Not just a couple tablespoons — copious scoops of sugar! Even vinegar-based Carolina BBQ called for enormous quantities of brown sugar. My current low carb regimen is not forgiving enough for copious sugar, so most pulled pork was out of the question.

And then I encountered Adobo. I’ve been meaning to try Adobo for some time now, though such intention had faded to the eaves of my brain. Many Adodo recipes included zero sugar, some just a small amount. Thus, a pulled pork Abobo seemed just the thing! Now, traditionally, Adobo meats (chicken seems a common choice, as well) aren’t necessarily “pulled” or shredded at the end. I simply added that wrinkle since my original inclination had been such.


2 tablespoons cooking oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 lbs pork, cut into cubes
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper, or more to taste
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon brown sugar (optional)
water, if cooking stovetop

Heat cooking oil in the base of a saucepan or of a crockpot on high. Add garlic and onion. Saute until onions are softened. Add vinegar, soy sauce, salt, pepper and bay leaves. Many traditional recipes like to use whole peppercorns. I simply used fresh ground. Add the brown sugar, if using.

Sugar was not a frequent addition in the recipes I looked at, and so I included it only optionally. I, personally, used one teaspoon, rather than one tablespoon. The teaspoon for tablespoon reduction is a common lower-carb fix I use when recipes call for small amounts of sugar, flour or corn starch. In the case of sugar, I figure recipes calling for a mere tablespoon are only looking to add a hint of sweetness anyway, and in the case of flour or cornstarch, it is for their thickening properties; I’ve found they actually work well enough in smaller quantities with just a little more time and attention to sauce reduction.

Cover and simmer the pork in the adobo mix until it reaches desired tenderness. 3-4 hours on high in the crockpot, 7-8 hours on low. If simmering stove-top, you may need extra water to keep the pork moist as it cooks. Shred, if desired. Serve with a favorite rice dish (or cauliflower “rice” dish).

I was pleasantly surprised how well this recipe turned out considering how few ingredients and seasonings went into it. Normally I gravitate toward dishes with strong flavors and/or complex spice mixes, but this recipe proved to showcase just the right mix of a few tasty ingredients.