It’s long been an enigma to me as to why adobo is largely associated with pork and chicken but not with beef. There are cuts of beef that contain just the right amount of fat and we all know that meat fat is essential in making good adobo. Ironically, this is one of the criticisms against it. I’ve seen a lot of ‘healthy’ versions of adobo cooked with lean meat or skinless chicken breasts and they just tasted awful. Second, stewing beef is best when slow-cooked the same principle for great adobo. So why not beef adobo?
That was what was playing inside my head one evening when I was trying to decide what to prepare for the kids’ packed school lunches the following day. I only meant to try cooking a kilo of beef short ribs as adobo but, the following morning, an inspiration hit me. Why not shred the meat and recook it a la corned beef? With fried eggs and rice, it would be an awesome breakfast. And that is exactly what I did. The corned beef style adobo did not quite make it into the kids’ lunch boxes (they brought the beef short ribs adobo as is) but those of us left in the house (the helper and myself) enjoyed an unforgettable brunch.
To make this dish, you need good stewing beef. You know, the kind with some fat and ligaments that leave the meat moist and sticky after hours of simmering. Short ribs and brisket are the cuts I recommend. Kenchi (shanks) and Batok (Chuck?) would be good too. If you choose Batok, the best ones have visible fat but not too much just specks of white rather than lumps. If the beef has too much fat, you will have very little adobo after all the fat has melted.
Place the beef in a cooking pot. Pour in the vinegar. Add the garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil without stirring. After the mixture boils, cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the vinegar has evaporated. Pour in the soy sauce and enough water to cover. Simmer for 2 hours or longer, or until the meat is fork tender.
The next day, scrape off the fat that has formed on top of the sauce. Reheat the adobo. Separate the meat from the sauce. Strain the sauce and reserve. Using two forks, shred the meat, discarding the bones, if any. This should be easy IF the meat is tender enough. If you have difficulty, that means the beef needs to be cooked longer. So, after shredding the meat, set it aside. Peel the potatoes and cut into half-inch cubes. Peel the onion, cut it in half, and slice thinly. Heat the cooking oil in a pan. Note that I used a non-stick pan so that I would only need a minimal amount of cooking oil to brown the potatoes. When the oil is hot, add the potatoes and cook until lightly browned. Add the sliced onion, stirring to separate them. Add the shredded beef adobo and cook just until reheated. To serve, place hot rice and a fried egg on a plate, add a generous amount of corned beef-style adobo, and sprinkle with chopped onion leaves or cilantro.