Some 15 years ago on Boracay Island, Elmer Lapeña had two bags in tow from the palengke (wet market)– fresh-out-of-sea squid and big chunks of liempo (pork belly). He said he is making Filipino Squid Adobo with Pork Belly. This piqued my interest because I’ve never tried it before. My mom would add tofu and kinchay (Chinese Parsley) with our adobo but never with pork.
This dish turned out to be a very creamy *sarsa (sauce) because the fat from the pork belly emulsify the squid ink as both meats stew in this briny. The ruggedness and provincial tones of this surf and turf was remarkable, I never cooked squid adobo without pork again.
Elmer’s Squid Adobo (from memory)
Pork Belly Chunks
Dark Soy Sauce
Sear the pork cubes and set aside.
Saute onion, garlic and ginger. Add squid, making sure that it’s over high heat. When it secretes juices, add vinegar. Let it simmer and don’t mix until it the vinegar whiff is gone. This prevents the overpowering briny taste of the ink.
Once it simmers, remove the squid, leaving all the juices. Add pork and soy sauce and simmer til pork is tender. Then add squid. Stew until squid is tender. Taste and adjust flavor. Sugar helps round up the flavor.
Squid A LaPeña
It is hard to find fresh squid where I live now. And even though it is fresh, the ink sacs are removed so the vibrant black sauce is amiss and mediocre when I first tried making the dish here. I had to add and substitute a few ingredients unexpectedly restraining the countrified adobo.
The cuttlefish ink is a great substitute because it has a more elegant saline taste than squid ink. The small jar can be quite pricey online but a teaspoon goes a long way. The medley of shallots and green onions, a splash of red wine vinegar and tomato paste are additions that feels like a dressed up adobo.
My version is sort of a wised up adobo, a brush of refinement but not forgetting its lineage. Because it is still fundamentally our Filipino Squid Adobo.
Note: *Although the direct translation of sarsa is sauce, it may also refer to the liquid from braises and stews, and other thickened liquid.
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Squid a LaPeña | Squid Adobo with Cuttlefish Ink
- 2 strips pork belly or 4 strips of bacon
- salt to taste for pork belly
- 500 g squid cleaned, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 inch ginger grated
- 8 stalks green onions, chopped white and greens separated
- 1/2 cup shallots minced
- 1/2 cup sweet onions
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp cuttlefish ink
- 2 tbsps Red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1. Marinade squid in sugar and soy sauce for 6 hours to overnight (optional).
- 2. Render pork belly fat over low heat. Remove and set aside once it crisps.
- 3. On the same pan, saute onions, white part of the green onions, ginger and garlic. Once th eonions turn glassy, add tomato paste.
- 4. Add squid, cuttlefish ink and apple cider vinegar.
- 5. Cover and simmer until tender. Depending on the thickness of the squid, it can be between 30-40 minutes.
- 6. Toss half of the pork into the mixture. Turn off heat.
- 7. Serve over rice, long pasta or rice noodles. Top with crispy pork/ bacon and green onions.
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