One of the dishes that is fundamental to Filipino cooking is a dish called adobo. It varies depending on the chef, and on what’s in the house, but it generally consists of some kind of meat, soy sauce, onions, vinegar, bay leaf, and a potato “if you’re poor and don’t have much meat,” Charlie explains. I think the potatoes drenched in the salty, vinegary sauce are crucial to the delicious factor, so they are going in our version no matter what! The meat used is generally chicken or pork, or sometimes both used at the same time, and it’s served over rice. When we searched for vegetarian versions, we found an eggplant adobo, but I was looking for something closer to the real thing, so we planned a tempeh version. We were a bit concerned about the tempeh breaking down in the liquidy sauce, so we fried it first to help solidify it.
As with any time Charlie is supplying the recipe for me, it’s a little less specific than when I do things. He does say, for this recipe, that “the amount of ‘soup’ you put in depends on your preference,” so it’s really more of a ratio than a measurement.
1 block of tempeh
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 cups of water
1/2 a bullion cube
60%/40% vinegar to soy sauce ratio – in this case, probably about 6 tablespoons vinegar, 4 tablespoons soy sauce, but that’s from my glancing at what he was doing not any actual measuring!
2 teaspoons oyster sauce (yes, they make a vegetarian version)
1-2 bay leaves
black pepper to taste (Charlie’s taste is about 2 teaspoons)
Cut the tempeh into six pieces and fry until golden brown on both sides.
Fry the onion and garlic in a large stock pot until the onion is translucent. Pour the water, soy sauce, vinegar, and oyster sauce on top and stir. Add the bullion and the bay leaf. Add the potatoes. Season with the black pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and let simmer for at least 30 minutes. Add the tempeh somewhere along the way, depending on how soft you want it – make sure it gets at least 10-15 minutes in there so it can soak up the juices. We put it in for the whole time and it was only a little crumbly.
Serve over rice. Lots of rice.