Filipino adobo is one of my absolute favourite dishes. The meat is cooked gently in vinegar flavoured with soy, whole garlic cloves, bay leaves and peppercorns. Sometimes the pieces are then fried until the skin and fat becomes crisp and golden. I love making this for gatherings as most of the work can be done in advance.
In my recent travels I developed quite a fondness for Tasmannia lanceolata, also known as native pepperberry or mountain pepper. It has a fieriness somewhere between chillies and peppercorns, and a complex, almost sweet aroma. In the spirit of Australia Day, and to acknowledge that this land is and always will be Native land, I have adapted the traditional adobo by using these potent native gems. The use of cherry vinegar lends the finished dish a beautiful colour, echoed in the deep pink-purple of the crushed pepperberries.
• 1kg free-range pork spare ribs
• 1 cup cherry vinegar (you can use raspberry or red wine vinegar as a substitute)
• 6 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly bashed with the flat side of a knife
• 1 teaspoon whole pepperberries*, lightly bashed with the flat side of a knife
• 1 tablespoon pepperberry leaves
• 3-4 tablespoons light soy sauce or fish sauce
• 1-2 tablespoons local honey (optional)
*Use a little caution when using pepperberries as they can be far more potent than ordinary peppercorns. Check whether they have been freeze-dried, as this makes the flavour far more mild.
1. Remove skin from ribs and lay them in a single layer in a baking dish.
2. Pour over the vinegar and add the spices.
3. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 160C for around 90 minutes, turning once halfway through.
4. Remove pork pieces and set aside to cool.
Pour off as much fat as you can from the top of the pan juices. Pour remaining sauce into a small pan and simmer for 15 minutes or until slightly thickened and reduced. Remove and discard garlic and spices.
5. Pour honey over the cooled pork pieces (if using).
Heat a barbecue, grill or frying pan to high. Cook the pork pieces for 2 minutes each side or until the fat is caramelised and slightly crisp.
6. Pour over the reduced
sauce and serve.