Let’s kick off this recipe with a few notes:
- Adobo is a very popular word in all cuisines that have Spanish influences, but it means a different thing in every country (so Filipino adobo != Peruvian adobo != Mexican chipotles en adobo, etc.)
- Peruvian pork adobo is a traditional dish from a city called Arequipa. Locals are notable for being very proud of their city and their people, so for Arequipeños reading this: I do know this is not the traditional version.
- I use kombucha in this recipe. I know cooking with kombucha is kind of silly (why kill all those good bacteria??) but I use it as a substitute for chicha de jora because a) it tastes very similar, b) it’s not made from corn, and b) I don’t have to go to Fairfield to buy it. If you don’t have or want to use kombucha, you can use chicha de jora, white wine or a mix of white wine and apple cider vinegar.
- There’s an optional step of colouring the fat with achiote (or annato seeds), which doesn’t add much to the flavour of the dish. Feel free to skip it.
- I use Peruvian chillies because I have them. I’ve seen the pastes in a few shops in Sydney (Tierras Latinas in Fairfield, Fiji Market in Newtown), and while I think using other chillies would change the flavour of the dish, you should use whatever is more convenient.
- Most of the pork we buy is free-range and pastured. It’s way more expensive, but totally worth it. Pastured animals are treated more humanely, and because pigs are omnivorous, supplementing their diet with grass gives their fat a better composition (i.e. a more balanced omega-6:omega-3 ratio, which translates in less inflammation).
- A small but interesting study published by the Weston A. Price Foundation (found here) showed that pork consumption alters the blood in an unfavourable way unless it’s prepared with traditional methods such using acidic marinades, and curing + smoking (e.g. bacon!). As an anecdotal side note, I used to be allergic to pork until I ditched the grains.
Peruvian pork adobo
Peruvian pork adobo is a traditional dish from a city called Arequipa.
- 1.2 kg pork shoulder
- 500 ml kombucha (you can also use chicha de jora, white wine, or 400 ml white wine + 100 ml apple cider vinegar)
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 50 g ají panca (Peruvian red chilli) paste
- 1 tsp ají amarillo (Peruvian yellow chilli) powder
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 bunch fresh oregano
- 1 tbsp achiote or annato seeds, optional
- 2 tbsp lard, tallow or ghee
- 2 tsp salt
- 3 large red onions sliced
- 1 tbsp whole red peppercorns
- 4-5 small sweet potatoes baked
- Cut pork in 4 – 5 portions, place in a ziplock bag or container and add kombucha, garlic, chillies, black pepper, cumin, and oregano. Marinate overnight in the fridge.
- Heat fat at low heat in a heavy-bottomed pot. If you're using achiote (or annato seeds), add them to the fat and let infuse for a minute or two, then drain the coloured fat, discard achiote and return fat to the pot.
- Crank up the heat, lift pork out of its marinade (reserve it) and brown on all sides.
- Add marinade, salt and onions.
- Wrap red peppercorns in cheesecloth and tie with kitchen thread or pop them in a stainless steel tea infuser, and place in the pot.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hours, until the pork is tender.
- Remove the lid, fish the pork and peppercorn package (which you can discard) out of the pot, and crank up the heat again to reduce the sauce if you like it thicker.
- Serve pork topped with sauce, with baked sweet potatoes and salad on the side.
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