In the Philippines, pork is cheaper than beef and thus beef is considered as a more special meat usually prepared into soupy dishes such as “nilaga” and “sinigang” or special saucy dishes such as “caldereta” or “asado”. It is seldom cook to adobo though there are some enterprising eateries in Laguna (Philippines) who successfully made “adobong baka” into one of their much-ordered courses especially during lunch, even with its price being higher than that of pork or chicken. I tried it several times and really enjoyed it with steamed rice and fresh tomato. It is a humble meal worthy of repetition.
Now that I’m here in a place (Sri Lanka), where beef is much cheaper than pork, I have all the opportunity to cook as much beef dishes as possible including the “adobo” of course. So let’s do it. We need one kilo beef from the muscle part with tendons cut to small sizes. For “adobo”, this is the better part. It may be tougher than prime cuts but it results to a more delicious “adobo” provided we can cook it to fork tender.
The other basic ingredients we need are 6 gloves garlic peeled and crushed, 2 pcs bay leaves (“laurel”), ½ cup white vinegar, ½ cup soy sauce, 2 tsp whole pepper corn (1 tsp to be cracked, the rest to use as whole), 2 cups beef broth (or water if you don’t have) and 2 pcs potatoes, peeled and cut to small sizes (which I don’t have right now). Just like any other “adobo” dishes, the amount of vinegar is the controlling factor here. You must be familiar with the quantity depending on the type of vinegar you are using. Personal adjustment is necessary.
In a heavy pan or wok combine all the ingredients, except the broth, and cook on medium heat without the lid until it boils. After a minute of boiling, mix all evenly and continue simmering with cover, on a very low heat, just enough for the liquid to gurgle. The meat will render some more liquid so there is no need to add the broth yet. Continue cooking. When the liquid starts to dry up, add the broth.
Continue simmering on low heat with occasional stirring until the meat is just tender and liquid is reduced. Please don’t allow the liquid to get too dry, you can add hot water when needed, ½ cup at a time.
Maintain the liquid/sauce to at least 1 to 1½ cups when the meat becomes just tender. Remove the pan from heat and transfer the liquid/sauce to a bowl and set aside.
Return the pan to the flame on medium heat. Add about 1 to 2 tbsp of vegetable oil to slightly fry the tender meat. It is important to gather the garlic pieces and sauté it directly in the oil to release its aroma further. When the meat is already sizzling and aromatic, return the liquid/sauce and let it boil again. Scrape all the bits that stuck on the pan and let it mix with the sauce to slightly thicken it. Adjust the amount of the sauce according to your preference by adding a small amount of water. Others like it with just a little or no sauce at all (“iga”). Transfer to a platter and serve. Enjoy! It's delicious! :-)