Lara’s Amazing Adobo

Lara’s Amazing Adobo

Family recipes are one of my favourite treasures.

Especially other peoples families.

And even more especially other peoples families from ‘overseas’ (as we island nation Australians call people from other countries).

So when my friend Lara Day told me about the adobo from her Philippine grandmother. I was all ears.

This is my version. Don’t be fooled by the simplicity.

There’s something so magical about the combo of garlic and soy sauce that will have your house smelling sooo good. And if you take the slow cooker option your house will have amazing aromas for the whole day.

I always make a double ‘investment cooking’ batch because the leftover meat is so good to have for other meals. Leftovers work anywhere you’d normally use cooked bolognese – a great alternative for people who don’t eat tomato.

Video Recipe
Lara’s Amazing Adobo

Lara’s Amazing Adobo

Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 2 super hungry people


  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 500 g ground (minced) pork or chicken
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • iceberg lettuce or steamed rice to serve
  • cashews or peanuts optional


For the slow cooker.

  1. Crush or grate the garlic. Place the garlic, meat and soy sauce in your slow cooker insert. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.

For the stove top.

  1. Crush or grate the garlic. Heat a little oil in a wok or frying pan on a high heat. Cook meat, stirring to break up the chunks until the meat is no longer pink.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so. Add the soy sauce and simmer for 5 minutes or until the sauce is well incorporated with the meat.

For both methods.

  1. When the adobo is cooked. Add the vinegar. Stir taste and season with more vinegar or some salt if needed. Generally it's delicious as is.
  2. Serve the savoury meat wrapped in the lettuce leaves or on top of the steamed rice. With cashews or peanuts sprinkled over for extra crunch.
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Variations & Substitutions for Lara’s Amazing Adobo

more authentic – add 4 bay leaves to cook with the meat. Use white vinegar instead of the apple cider vinegar. Use diced pork or pork belly instead.

plan-B (pantry) – serve with frozen cauliflower ‘rice’ or other veggie rice instead of the lettuce. Also good with frozen green beans.

short on time – use the stovetop method.

soy-free – use fish sauce or hoisin sauce, oyster sauce or tomato paste instead of the soy.

vegetarian – diced tofu tastes amazing with the soy garlic combo and goes surprisingly well in the slow cooker. I’m also thinking mushrooms would be amazing possibly with some cooked lentils to boost the protein.

different protein – in the Philippines diced pork shoulder is traditionally used. It’s also fab with chicken thigh fillets or chicken drumsticks. Sausages would be amazing too. And I’ve made a beef version.

more substantial (carb lovers) – serve with Egg Fried Rice or I often add wok ready noodles at the last minute to warm in the slow cooker.

more substantial (low carb) – serve with Egg Fried Not-Rice (made with cauliflower rice) or avocado or with extra nuts.

different vegetables – cabbage leaves or cos (romaine) lettuce work equally well. Or serve the spicy meat on a bed of cooked veggies like roast cauliflower, Wonderful Cabbage Wedges, Beautiful Broccoli. You can cook veggies in with the meat like onion and carrots and celery – but I perfer to keep it simple with just the garlic and soy so I can get it on to cook quickly in the mornings.

fancy / for entertaining – serve with fried shallots and some coriander (cilantro) or mint leaves.

hot! – it’s also fab with a little chilli or serve with hot sauce like tabasco or sriracha.

Waste Avoidance Strategy

garlic – will keep for weeks in a dark dry pantry.

ground (minced) pork or chicken – freeze it.

soy sauce / apple cider vinegar / cashews or peanuts / uncooked rice – keep them in the pantry.

iceburg lettuce – will keep in the fridge for 1-2 weeks in a plastic bag. Otherwise use for another meal as it’s not great once frozen.

Problem Solving Guide

bland – more salt! Or more soy Or add in a flavour bomb.

too dry – sounds like your meat was super lean. Next time use meat with more fat. For now a drizzle of olive oil will help.

too watery – the slow cooker doesn’t allow much evaporation – even though it looks watery – serve it anyway – the juices are delicious.

Prepare Ahead

Yes! Just cook as per the recipe but keep the nuts and lettuce separately. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 1-2 weeks or can be frozen.

Lara’s Amazing Adobo

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with love

Jules x

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