I have made the famous Filipino pork adobo many a time – as most other Filipinos do. I’m pretty sure the sweet, salty, garlicky, slightly peppery Filipino adobo sauce runs through every Filipino’s veins. It’s delicious, familiar, comforting.
Since I am in a new land, I was yearning for something delicious, familiar, and comforting to cook. Adobo was a no-brainer.
So for my first (real) kitchen adventure in my Chinese expat kitchen, I present to you adobong baboy at sitaw (Filipino pork adobo with Asian long beans).
I already had the pork meat but I wanted to add either kangkong (water spinach) or sitaw (Asian long beans) to the dish. So I set forth to the grocery store to find either of the two. I did procure the sitaw; and no, I didn’t see any kangkong.
I also tried looking for dried bay leaves and vinegar. I thought to myself, if I couldn’t find those two (essential ingredients), my adobo plans are a no-go. I knew vinegar bottles are sold at Chinese grocery stores, the problem was I wouldn’t be able to identify the Chinese text on the label.
So I employed my friend, Ting’s help and sent her a picture of what I thought to be a vinegar bottle. She confirmed that it was, in fact, vinegar, so I went ahead and picked it up. Fortunately, I also found the dried bay leaves, so I was feeling rather optimistic.
Unrelated to adobo, what I couldn’t find at the store was freakin’ onions! I was a bit flabbergasted. I found a package of Japanese curry roux at another grocery store (that caters more to international brands), and I was planning on picking up some onions (and potatoes and carrots) to make some Japanese curry, but lo and behold there weren’t any at my local store. I wasn’t sure if it was just out of stock or something, and I was too timid to mime my way to a Chinese store clerk. So I was feeling demoralized on that end.
I tried to keep my mind off the onion predicament and trekked home to focus on making the adobo. I did soak the meat in a concoction of lots of garlic, black pepper, salt, and vinegar and left it to marinate overnight to really make it flavorful.
The next day, I cooked it.
The meat to vegetable ratio was more in favor of the latter, but I didn’t mind. I love adobong sitaw (and kangkong) just as much.
There are a lot of frustrations that come with living in a country where you don’t know the language, but at the same time, you learn to be adaptable and cliche at it might be, stronger and wiser. You do need the occasional comfort foods though.