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Recipes — A Taste of the Philippines

Executive Chef Mharlon Atienza shares his recipe for making Pork Adobo with Garlic Rice (Sinangag)


From our partner Culinaire Magazine

Bodega & Café’s Executive Chef Mharlon Atienza says that being part of the opening team of two restaurants, and working alongside other chefs instilled in him the value of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. “These are lessons I have carried forward in my career as a chef, but also translate into my personal life making me the teacher, husband, and father I am today.”

Calgary born and raised, Atienza says that finding fresh ingredients during the winter is a challenge, so he hits up one of Calgary’s farmers markets. “There, you can find offerings from a lot of small greenhouses in Alberta that are operating year-round."

Executive Chef Mharlon Atienza shares his favourite recipe
Mharlon Atienza draws upon his Filipino roots with this Pork Belly Adobo recipe

During winter Atienza craves comfort, and “the stick-to-your-ribs type of cooking like Mom’s pork belly adobo.” Served with sinangag, or garlic fried rice, this is one dish that is simple to make, slow to simmer, and oh so savoury.

Pork Belly Adobo with Sinangag (garlic fried rice)

Serves 2-4

Lightly garnished, Pork Adobo is the star of this show
Pork Belly Adobo is a staple dish in the Philippines

850 g pork belly (skin on or off)

3 whole garlic cloves, peeled

½ cup (125 mL) gluten-free soy sauce

2 cups (500 mL) water

4 bay leaves

1 Tbs black peppercorns

Thai or Serrano chili (optional)

¼ cup (60 mL) vinegar

To taste salt

To taste raw sugar

2-3 scallions, sliced thinly (garnish)

1. Cut pork belly into 2 cm cubes and place into Ziploc bag or spill-proof container.

2. Crush garlic cloves, add them and soy sauce to bag with pork belly. Seal and refrigerate, allowing to marinate for at least an hour.

3. In a large pot add water, bay leaves, and black peppercorn (use cheesecloth or a tea steeper to make removal easier). Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove peppercorns and bay leaves from water and discard.

4. Remove pork belly from marinade and transfer to paper towel. Reserve the marinade.

5. Bring the flavoured water to a boil. Add pork belly and cook for 5 minutes, skimming off any foam that comes to the surface.

6. Add the leftover marinade and Thai/serrano chili if you like it spicy. Simmer for one hour, or until tender.

7. Add vinegar and simmer for another 15 minutes. If you like a thicker sauce, simmer until the liquid forms a nice sheen and is thick and glossy.

8. Taste and add sugar and salt to your liking. Garnish with thinly sliced scallions.

Garlic Rice or Sinangag is a favourite side dish for Pork Adobo
Sinangag Garlic Rice is the perfect accompaniment

Sinangag (garlic fried rice)

Serves 2-4

2-4 cups cooked, day-old rice

¼ cup (60 mL) canola oil, or any neutral cooking oil

1 head garlic, peeled and minced or crushed

To taste salt

To taste sugar

1. In a mixing bowl, gently break up day-old rice until there are no clumps.

2. Add canola oil to non-stick wok or pan and heat on medium heat. Add garlic and fry, keeping a close eye on it. It should be golden brown, but not burned. Once garlic is golden brown, remove from oil and set aside.

3. Add rice to oil and sauté. The goal is to heat the rice through, and get some of it crispy without burning.

4. Once the rice is heated through, add back the browned garlic, and season with salt and sugar.


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