Adobo Baby Back Ribs
It’s somewhat ironic that my husband, who is Filipino, loves to cook so much – especially Asian food – and yet he never cooks Filipino food! My mother-in-law makes amazing Filipino food, including pancit, chicken and pork adobo, sinigang, and my absolute favorite, lumpia. Joseph says that he doesn’t cook Filipino food because his mom’s food is so good, it’s just easier to go home for good traditional food.
That changed recently when we pulled Memories of Philippine Kitchens off the bookshelf. It’s a beautiful coffee table style cookbook, filled with mouthwatering photos, touching narratives from Philippine kitchens, and a cultural history of Philippine foods. It’s unfortunate that Filipino food isn’t more popular in the United States, because it’s good! Frankly, I’d take lumpia over a Chinese spring roll any day and my mother-in-law’s version of longaniza (basically chicken or pork sausage in a delicious tangy barbecue-like sauce) is so good I dream about it. It saddens me that most of my friends are completely unfamiliar with these foods because they’re really missing out. You should have seen my parents, sister, and brother-in-law flocking to the kitchen when we brought them food from Joseph’s mom at Christmas.
I love Thai food, but I would gladly sacrifice one of the hundreds of Thai restaurants in Boston for just one Filipino restaurant. Unless you live in California, you’re likely going to have to head to your kitchen and pull out some pots and pans to get some good Philippine food. There’s only one Filipino restaurant in all of New England, and while it’s good, it doesn’t come close to my mother-in-law’s food (and no, I’m not just trying to kiss up). Brooklyn has an outstanding Filipino restaurant, Purple Yam, which is owned by the authors of Memories of Philippine Kitchens, but it’s a little far from Boston to go just for dinner.
Luckily Joseph manned up and decided to give the adobo baby back ribs recipe a shot and I couldn’t have been happier. Adobo, a braise of vinegar, salt, and garlic, is perhaps one of the most well-known Filipino foods. It’s easy to make and gets better the longer you keep it. The vinegar in adob0 allowed Filipinos to keep prepared meats for a couple of days in the days before refrigeration, so not only does it keep very well, but the seasonings permeate the food, giving it a deeper flavor.
There’s no one adobo recipe, so there are endless variations. This recipe includes jalapenos and apples, which although untraditional, are wonderful additions. The dish is a tangy delight with just enough of a kick to put a little pep in your step. Make sure to save some for leftovers (if you can!) because it’ll be even better the next day.
Adobo Baby Back Ribs #
Adapted from Memories of Philippine Kitchens
The authors suggest serving this with steamed yellow wax beans sprinkled with rice wine vinegar, but we couldn’t find any. We went with plain steamed snap peas instead.
1 tart apple, such as Granny Smith, peeled and sliced
2 pounds baby-back ribs, cut into individual portions
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black peppercorns
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 bay leaves
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
Season the ribs liberally with kosher salt, then place the ribs in single layer in a large baking dish.
Combine the peppercorns and garlic in a small bowl and mash together with a spoon to form a coarse paste. Rub the pepper and garlic paste onto the ribs.
In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, soy, bay leaves and jalapeno. Pour this mixture over the ribs, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, turning ribs halfway through marinating.
When the ribs are ready to cook, spread the half of the apple slices in a large, heavy sauce pan. Add the ribs and marinade and cover with the remaining apple slices. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the meat is tender and ready to fall off the bone, about 1 hour.
Serve over steamed rice.
Number of servings (yield): 4