No, this isn’t adobo.
It’s Chinese pork stew. And it’s slightly different from adobo in that it’s not cooked with soy sauce and vinegar per se. The stew has soy sauce but it has stock/water as well (it’s a stew afterall). The ratio of the stock to soy sauce is around 2:1.
I was compelled, after eating canned chinese pork stew time and time again, to replicate the recipe and make it less…oily. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy eating the stuff. I like how the stew has just the right amount of saltiness in it and the pork is extremely tender. But the last time I ate it, I was left scarred, bloated and extremely unhappy with myself. The Narcissus brand in particular was extremely oily, and I was unlucky enough to taste it. It was so fatty and oily that I could not taste the stew because there was so much visible oil. The meat was completely immersed in oil but because I was hungry and I needed to satiate my cravings, well, I yielded to sin. The Gulong brand is better, albeit still fatty, but more stew-y.
This is actually my second attempt to make this. I was inspired to make it again because I wanted to remind myself of the smell of Hong Kong hole-in-the-wall eateries – which oozed with the aroma of Five Spice powder. It has a strong cinnamon-y attribute to it, but when you add it to food in gentle amounts, a little goes a long way. This stew is amazing, hearty and lightyears away from the canned kind.
And this is embarrassing but what the hell….if somebody can tell me what paikut is in English (and no, it isn’t spareribs), please enlighten me. The cut is a vertical strip of pork with fat on top and a great marbling of the meat. The bone runs along one side of the meat.
Five Spice Chinese Pork Stew (serves 6 – 8 )
1 & 1/2 kilo pork paikut, sliced into cubes – sorry I don’t know what the cut is called in English
for boiling the pork
- water enough to cover the pork by 1/2 inch more
- 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice powder
- 1/2 tbsp cracked pepper
- 1 tbsp iodized salt
- 3-5 bay leaves
- 2-4 celery stalks
For the stew
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 head of garlic, minced
- 2 medium-sized shallots/sibuyas na pula, sliced
- 1 large white onion, sliced
- 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice powder
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup light soy sauce
- 3 cups pork stock (the water used for boiling the pork)
- 1 ginger, two inches in length, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
- 1/2 tbsp anise seed
- 1 /2 tbsp cracked pepper
- 1 198gram can whole mushrooms, sliced in half (it’s chunkier that way)
- In a large pot, add the pork with the rest of the ingredients for boiling. Add water, enough the cover by pork by 1/2 inch.
- Boil on medium heat until the pork is fork tender. Once done, remove the pork from the pot.
- Reserve the stock and run it through a fine sieve to strain the impurities.
- In a wok or large pan, heat the oil and add the garlic. Allow to toast but be careful not to burn it.
- Add the shallots and the white onion and saute until it sweats and goes slightly limp. Add the ginger and fry until very fragrant. Remove around 1/4 of the onion and ginger and reserve for garnish.
- Add the pork and mix everything well until the pork is lightly toasted, around 2-3 minutes. Add the pork stock, followed the the soy sauce.
- Add in the remaining ingredients and mix well. Cover the pot and allow the stew to reduce for 2 – 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for another minute. Remove from pan and serve hot, garnished with the sauteed onions and ginger, and with a heaping scoop of rice. Enjoy!
And this is the part where my cousin grabbed his plate of rice because he was hungry and it’s time to eat. He really didn’t appreciate me using his rice as a prop.