Instant Pot Pork Adobo. Filipino stew, with pork braised in soy, vinegar, garlic, and coconut milk, ready in about an hour thanks to pressure cooking.
Filipino pork adobo, a national dish of the Philippines, is a soy sauce braise, similar to Chinese red-cooked pork. The difference is in the vinegar; a traditional Filipino adobo includes a lot of vinegar, plus garlic cloves, whole peppercorns, and bay leaves. (I was surprised by the bay leaf - I'm used to using one or two of them as a bit player, not a handful like they use in this Filipino pork stew.)
The word adobo means "sauce" or "marinade" with vinegar in Spanish, but its meaning drifts across the Spanish-speaking world, so this is NOT a Mexican adobo. Mexican adobo sauce is a mix of peppers, tomatoes, vinegar, and spices...and a recipe for another day.
- Boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
- Fine sea salt
- Vegetable oil
- Garlic cloves
- Whole peppercorns
- Coconut milk
- Soy sauce (Chinese dark soy sauce)
- Rice vinegar (Or cane vinegar)
- Bay leaves
See the recipe card for quantities.
How to make Instant Pot Pork Adobo
Brown the pork (on one side) in 3 batches: Sprinkle the pork cubes with salt. Heat the vegetable oil in an Instant Pot set to Sauté Mode - High, until the oil is shimmering. Sear the pork in 3 batches, until browned on one side; each batch will take about 3 minutes. Move each batch of seared pork to a bowl.
Toast the garlic and peppercorns: Add the garlic cloves and whole peppercorns to the pot and cook the garlic and peppercorns for 1 minute.
Everything in the pot: Stir in the coconut milk, and scrape the bottom of the pot with a flat-edged wooden spoon to loosen all the browned bits of pork. Add the seared pork and any juices in the bowl. Pour in the soy sauce and rice vinegar, and stir to coat the pork. Sprinkle the bay leaves over the top of everything.
Pressure cook for 30 minutes with a Natural Release: Lock the lid and set the cook time to 30 minutes on high pressure. (Use Manual, Pressure Cook, or Pressure Cook - Custom mode in an Instant Pot). Let the pressure come down naturally, about 20 more minutes. (You can quick release the remaining pressure after 15 minutes if you are in a hurry.)
Serve: Unlock the lid on the pressure cooker, tilting it away from you to avoid the hot steam. Serve (with white rice on the side), and enjoy!
Soy Sauce: Chinese dark soy sauce is the best choice for this recipe if you can find it. Chinese dark soy sauce is a lot thicker, with sugar or molasses added, and will give the pork that dark "Adobo" color. If you can't find it, regular soy sauce (or light soy sauce) is a good enough substitute.
Vinegar: Filipino vinegar is traditional in this recipe, specifically a Filipino cane sugar vinegar like Datu Puti Cane Vinegar. But I can't find it at my local Asian markets, so I use Asian rice vinegar instead, which is easy to find at my grocery store. (Rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar are the same, so buy whichever one is available.) Apple cider vinegar is an acceptable substitute, but white vinegar is a little too sharp for this recipe.
Pork cuts: I use pork shoulder (aka pork butt) in this recipe, which gives me tender meat. Some recipes recommend pork belly, but I prefer the leaner cubes of pork shoulder. (Leaner is a relative term here - pork shoulder has a lot more fat than leaner pork cuts like pork loin and pork sirloin, which will dry out in the pressure cooker.) You could also use boneless pork ribs if you can find them. Bone-in pork ribs won't fit in the pot well enough to stay submerged in the sauce.
Aromatics and spices: The other key flavors in this Filipino dish come from garlic cloves, black peppercorns, and bay leaves. If your bay leaves have been sitting in the back of your spice cabinet for years, get a fresh jar for this recipe; they're one of the key ingredients, and you don't want to use old, dull bay leaves that have lost their flavor.
Coconut milk: Technically I'm making adobo sa gata, because I'm including coconut milk. I like the rich flavor and extra hint of sweetness it adds to the recipe, but you can substitute chicken broth if you want a straight-up adobo.
This recipe bumps up against the max fill line in a 6-quart pressure cooker. To double it, you must move up to an 8-quart pressure cooker. Or, if you want a smaller batch, cut all the ingredients in half, and this recipe will fit in a 3-quart pressure cooker. The cooking time does not change; it takes the same amount of time to cook each piece of pork, no matter how many there are.
The adobo will last in airtight containers for a couple of days in the refrigerator or frozen for up to 6 months in the freezer. I portion leftovers into 2-cup containers and freeze them, so I have individual servings whenever I need a quick lunch or dinner.
Instant Pot Pork Adobo. Filipino pork stew, braised in soy, vinegar, and coconut milk, with garlic and bay leaf, ready in about an hour thanks to pressure cooking.
- 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1½-inch cubes
- 1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1½ teaspoons whole black peppercorns
- 13½-ounce can of coconut milk
- ½ cup soy sauce (Chinese dark soy sauce if you can find it)
- ¼ cup rice vinegar (Or cane vinegar if you can find it)
- 6 bay leaves
- Brown the pork in 3 batches: Sprinkle the pork cubes with 1½ teaspoon salt. In an Instant Pot or another pressure cooker, heat the oil over saute mode, adjusted to high, until the oil is shimmering. (Use medium-high heat for a stovetop PC). Sear the pork in three batches; sear each batch until well browned on one side, about 3 minutes, and then transfer the seared pork to a bowl.
- Toast the garlic and peppercorns: Add the garlic cloves and whole peppercorns to the pot and cook the garlic and peppercorns for 1 minute.
- Everything in the pot: Stir in the coconut milk, and scrape the bottom of the pot with a flat-edged wooden spoon to loosen all the browned bits of pork. Add the seared pork and any juices in the bowl. Pour in the soy sauce and rice vinegar, and stir to coat the pork. Sprinkle the bay leaves over the top of everything.
- Pressure cook the pork for 30 minutes with a Natural Release: Lock the lid and pressure cook at high pressure with the cook time set for 30 minutes in an Instant Pot or another electric pressure cooker (use Manual, Pressure Cook, or Pressure Cook - Custom mode in an Instant Pot), or for 24 minutes in a stovetop PC. Let the pressure come down naturally, about 20 more minutes. (You can quick release any remaining pressure after 15 minutes if you are in a hurry.)
- Serve: Unlock the lid on the pressure cooker, tilting it away from you to avoid the hot steam. Serve (with white rice on the side), and enjoy!
Don't eat the bay leaves! They give a fantastic flavor to this Filipino dish, but bay leaves are not good for eating. Either fish them out of the dish before serving, or tell your diners to set them aside as they find them.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 60 minutes
- Category: Sunday Dinner
- Method: Pressure Cooker
- Cuisine: Filipino
Keywords: Instant Pot Pork Adobo, Pressure Cooker Pork Adobo
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