Many Instagram followers of “Marketman”Joel Binamira recently discovered a renewed love for adobo. They all got inspired to cook the staple Pinoy dish “old school” style, just like the Zubuchon owner and epicure did—in a terra cotta pot or palayok.
It’s true there are many known variations of adobo—adobong pula, adobong puti, adobo sa dilaw, adobo sa gata, crispy adobo etc. But Binamira says the original method, how people used to make it in the olden days, remains a winner in his book. Why? Because it’s easy to do, requires only a few ingredients yet it comes out very flavorful.
There was, of course, a reason why ancient Filipinos used to cook their food in a palayok, says the food connoisseur. There were no metal pots back then. And if there were, they belonged to the kitchens of the rich. Since people in those days didn’t have refrigeration systems, they had to find ways to extend the life of the boar or pork they had slaughtered. One way they do this is by cooking the meat in salt, vinegar and some spices—which Filipinos later came to know as adobo.
What difference does it make if our adobo is cooked in a claypot instead of a metal pot? According to Binamira, the meat will be cooked with a gentler heat in a palayok. The pot also wicks the meat’s moisture and adds shape and a smokey flavor to the dish.
How to cook the Adobo sa Palayok
Binamira’s recipe of the adobo sa palayok is very easy to follow. First, smear the inside of the palayok with some lard. By putting this layer of fat between the pot and the meat, moisture won’t seep out early during the cooking process. The amount of lard could be adjusted based on the fattiness of the pork you’re using.
Put one-third of your meat on the pot (supposing you’ll use three kilos of pork, as in Binamira’s recipe), sprinkle it with some garlic, salt, bay leaf, and peppercorn. Put another layer of the set of ingredients and repeat. Add some coconut vinegar into the mix then cook it on high heat (stove top or wood fire).
Do not cover for the first 15 to 20 minutes to let the acidity from the vinegar come out. Turn heat to medium and cook it covered for about 2 to 3 hours more, until the meat’s color turns to caramel brown. (So just because you didn’t use soy sauce, you can call it adobo sa puti—you can’t because it’s not, Binamira insists). Check the meat every hour to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom of the palayok.
The secret to this great recipe, aside from the palayok, are the ingredients. For instance, the meat—Binamira prefers boneless pork belly—has to have several layers of meat and fat. The more fat the better since the cooking will be long. He also prefers organic coconut vinegar over other types of vinegar, and natural sea salt (not iodized), as these lend a different flavor to the dish.
“DO NOT rush it for dinner. It needs the 3+ hours of slow, gentle cooking, DON’T speed it up,” he reminds his followers in an Instagram post. “Let the cooked adobo mellow for 2 days before eating. TRUST ME on this. I know it’s hard to resist, but you need SELF-CONTROL.”
The Marketman’s Ultimate Palayok Adobo Package, in which Binamira prepared an adobo cooking kit for his interested followers, complete with palayok, was such a big hit he sold over 300 orders of it. Those who tried cooking the dish were obviously pleased with the results. “We had it for lunch today with rice and fried egg. The adobo was so good….it had that smokey flavor—I guess from the pot and the lard. Will definitely cook adobo this way again,” says one commenter.
“Best adobo version. Must eat it with bahaw and piping hot lard, then end it with iced soda! Burp 3x winner!” says another.
Can you still cook this adobo if you don’t have a palayok? Binamira says yes. He recommends using an Electrosafe, or cast lodge iron, enameled pots. “They do reasonably well.” But “uncover” cover it, adds Binamira, “so that some of the moisture comes out, which naturally happens in the palayok.”
One of the commenters apparently followed this tip and said “the result was shockingly flavorful.”
To get more tips on cooking Marketman’s Palayok Adobo, check out his posts on Instagram.