I’m always thrilled when another Filipino cookbook is published. When it comes to the world stage, our cuisine has always mysteriously darted to and fro between the light and shadows. Now you see it, now you don’t. Now it is a no man’s land of fear-factor-esque bites, now it is a treasure trove of secret recipe passed down from generation to generation. Now reviled, now exalted. But always never quite getting a steady grip on a solid place in the firmament of Asian cuisines. Yet.
Today though, our delicious food (because yes, I am Filipino and yes, I do think our food is wonderful) is slowly gaining popularity and renown. Little and not so little restaurants are making their own successful splashes abroad (each to which I give a little standing ovation over here). Foodies in the know have started to whisper about Filipino food being the “next big thing”…a whisper that has been gaining strength thanks to the magic of the internet.
Me, I’m just happy when our food gets a little more limelight. We Filipinos love to eat. Our forefathers loved to eat. We pass recipes down like precious family heirlooms (which they are). I think that all this love and deliciousness is meant to be shared with the world! And I am thankful and proud for every person who tries to do this.
I discovered Marvin’s blog years ago. I love coming across Filipino food blogs. When they are based out of the country, by an earnest Pinoy trying to learn more about his national cuisine, it endears itself even more. That’s exactly why I kept returning to Burnt Lumpia, being on my own Filipino food journey myself – not one of someone far away from her home country, but of a girl who was learning to cook Filipino food on her own for the first time (after have spent most of her life eating Filipino food cooked by someone else). The blog struck a chord…not to mention Marvin is hilarious and reading his posts were entertainment in and of itself.
When he visited the Philippines some years back a group of food bloggers arranged a dinner and we had the pleasure of meeting him and his lovely wife. After some time, we heard that he put up a food truck, The Manila Machine, and we cheered him on, excited that he was pushing the story of our food to even more people. And when he shared that he was writing a cookbook, I was so excited I signed up to test recipes!
This wasn’t one of the recipes I tested, but when I finally had Marvin’s book in my hands it was one of the dishes I wanted to try immediately. Adobo, red wine, and beef shorts…such promise in that combination!
Red Wine and Short Ribs Adobo
- 1 tablespoon oil (I used canola oil)
- 1.5 kilos bone-in beef short ribs
- Coarse salt
- 1 large onion, diced
- 8-10 cloves garlic, smashed with the side of a knife and peeled
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2-cup soy sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- Water, to cover
- Heat the oil in a deep, non-reactive pot over medium high heat. Season the short ribs on all sides with salt, and then add the short ribs to the pot in one layer, taking care not to over-crown the pot. Do this in batches. Sear the short ribs on all sides, about 3-5 minutes per side, until all sides are brown and crusty. Transfer the browned short ribs to a platter and set aside.
- Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pot, and then return the pot to medium heat. Add the onion and the garlic and sauté until the onion just begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and pour in the red wine, stirring to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Simmer the red wine for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the red wine vinegar, soy sauce, bay leaves, and the coarsely ground black pepper to your pot. Return the shorts ribs, along with any juices that have accumulated on its platter, back into the pot as well. Add just enough water to barely cover the short ribs, then bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to low, cover, and then simmer for at least 2 hours, or until the meat is fork tender and falling off the bone (mine took longer...just be patient!). Make sure to turn the ribs occasionally to ensure even cooking.
- While the ribs are simmering make sure to skim off and discard and fat that rises to the surface (I’ll admit that I was a naughty, naughty girl and skipped this step – I like a bit of fat in my adobo).
- When the ribs are falling-off-the-bone tender, remove from the pot and set aside. Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid in the pot to a boil. Continue boiling until the sauce is reduced to about 2 cups. This can take anywhere from 10 – 30 minutes depending on how much water you added previously. Discard the bay leaves and taste the sauce, adjusting the seasoning with more salt and pepper as needed (I didn’t have to added any further seasoning at all, although next time I may add just a teensy bit of sugar just to balance the flavors out. Although some frown on this, Marvin himself admits that all three of his grandmothers use sugar to balance out flavors – and I do too! I also didn’t bother fishing out the bay leaf…because I’m a horribly lazy person).
- Serve the short ribs with steamed white rice and drizzle some of the sauce over the ribs and rice (Instead of drizzling the sauce over the ribs, once the sauce was reduced I added the ribs back to the pot to get coated in the sauce and warmed through. Admittedly not as elegant a presentation but delicious nonetheless!)
I am happy to report that this recipe definitely delivered on its promise. Tender, yielding beef and a deep, dark sauce with a lot of body and flavor. C, little C, and myself enjoyed it immensely. Leftovers were prized as this, like most adobos, are even better the next day. A word of warning though…this dish is a rice magnet! I won’t even mention here how much rice I piled on my plate, smothering it liberally in the aromatic and hearty sauce.
The other recipes in The Adobo Road Cookbook look just as promising. I have already bookmarked several (Carabao Wings, Humba, and Slow-Braised Pork Belly and Pineapple Adobo – which is one of the recipes I tested and am so looking forward to trying again). But it is really the whole look and feel of the cookbook, along with Marvin’s unique voice (at once friendly, funny, knowledgeable, and obviously passionate about our cuisine) that I like most about it. It is casual and relatable in a way that I feel will speak to Filipinos who are just venturing into the kitchen, as well as non-Filipinos who are interested in learning more about Filipino food. It has a sense of humor that endears the reader and makes our oft-misunderstood cuisine more approachable. But, despite this, he still manages to also underline how familial our food is, steeped in history and entrenched in family.
Thank you and bravo Marvin!
**If you are in Manila you can find The Adobo Road Cookbook at National Bookstore branches. If you are elsewhere you can order it here.