Beef Short Ribs Adobo

Filipino Beef Short Ribs Adobo

Adobo is the quintessential Filipino comfort food and is widely regarded as the national dish of the Philippines. When I had just started cooking and flopped around in a kitchen equipped with nothing but a crusty pot and a butter knife from Ikea, the first thing I made was adobo, sans recipe. It didn’t require much in the way of ingredients or equipment. Just throw everything in a pot and simmer. Not to be confused with Mexican adobo (a seasoning paste made of chiles, herbs, and spices), Filipino adobo refers to any seafood, meats, or vegetables braised in vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic. The most common types of adobo in my household were chicken, pork, squid, and water spinach (also known as kangkong).

Browsing through the recipes for this dish in Memories of Philippine Kitchens, the very first thing I noticed was the use of coconut milk to enrich the braising liquid. I don’t ever recall having adobo enriched with coconut milk, but it sounds like a good idea for leaner meats such as chicken breasts. The next thing I noticed was the recipe for beef short ribs adobo. I confess to never having beef adobo and thought it was quite unusual, but the use of short ribs made perfect sense. Braising slowly is arguably the best cooking method for short ribs, with the hot and fast method of grilling Korean kalbi a close runner-up. This is the first recipe I tried from the book, adapted to the way I learned to prepare adobo, of course.

Beef Short Ribs Adobo

serves 4 to 6

3 pounds beef short ribs
canola oil
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
2 cups water
1 cup cane vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
3 bay leaves


  • It shouldn’t matter if your short ribs are flanken (cut across the bone, as in the pictures), or English-style (cut parallel to the bone).
  • The original recipe calls for 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground pepper, but I’d rather double the amount and use whole berries to keep the broth from getting too gritty.
  • Replace the 2 cups of water with either 2 cups of chicken stock or 1 cup of chicken stock and 1 cup of coconut milk as suggested in the original recipe. I used water since there’s no chicken stock to be found in the fridge and I wanted the delicate broth produced from braising the short ribs to come through.
  • Experiment with different types of vinegar such as sherry, apple cider, or rice. Try to get a bottle of Datu Puti brand cane vinegar if you have access to a Filipino or Southeast Asian grocery. This is the only type of vinegar our household ever used for adobo.

Pat the short ribs dry with paper towels and generously season with salt. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Heat a heavy pot over medium high heat. Add the oil and brown all sides of the short ribs.

Filipino Beef Short Ribs Adobo - searing / browning

Transfer the ribs to a plate and pour off the excess fat. Add the rest of the ingredients and scrape the pan with a spatula or wooden spoon to deglaze. Return the ribs to the pot, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cover the pot with a tight lid and simmer for 2 hours, until the meat is tender and falling off the bone.

Filipino Beef Short Ribs Adobo - Simmered

To Serve:

This recipe is best made ahead and served the next day. The meat will develop more flavor by soaking in the seasonings and reabsorbing moisture lost during the long cooking process. Remember to reheat gently and serve with steamed white rice. Also try broiling the meat until slightly charred and reducing the braising liquid to a slightly thicker consistency. Remember to pick out the garlic cloves and smear on a piece of freshly baked pan de sal.

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53 Responses to “Beef Short Ribs Adobo”

  1. Ralph says:

    That sounds really good, and I woulf love to try the one with squid. Can you tell me how to do that one ?

  2. Here’s a really good blog post on squid adobo:

    I like my squid adobo black with lots of ink.

  3. [eatingclub vancouver] js says:

    You know, I was wondering about adobo made with beef. I don’t think I’ve ever had adobo with beef.

    I was thinking the other day which adobo I like best, whether chicken or pork belly, and it hit me — no beef. I should try this one of these days.

    We make a black peppercorn beef short ribs which my mother also calls an “adobo.” Anything made with soy sauce to my mother is called an “adobo.” LOL

    FYI: the black peppercorn beef short ribs is here:

    Other, more “authentic” adobos are also on the blog.

  4. js – thanks for that recipe. I’m always on the lookout for good short rib recipes.

  5. Girl says:

    This site looks like another site I know.

  6. Jaime says:

    Mmmm… those look very good. I want some right now. Great photography.

    last blog post: apple galettes with frangipane

  7. Sunshine says:

    Yeah, the website uses exactly same layout with this one! lol
    But I am cooking this short rib right now! I added ginger, rosemary, and other herbs. Also toasted sesame seeds. And soy sauce! Yum!

  8. Sunshine says:

    Oh no wonder, those two site are using word press template:)

  9. Malak says:

    commenting usually isnt my thing, but ive spent an hour on the site, so thanks for the info

  10. Mica says:

    It’s late and here I am checking out your beef short ribs adobo! Never tried adobo using beef short ribs! Looks like I’ll surprise the boys with this recipe. Yummy!

  11. SJ says:

    I made this today. Used beef broth and rice vineger. I’m not very familiar with how adobo should taste, but the vineger seemed to overpower the other flavors. Not bad overall, but maybe coconut milk would mellow it out? Next time I’ll try to cut back on the amount of vineger.

  12. SJ says:

    Second time around: used coconut milk, water, more soy sauce and less rice vinegar. Came out great, will definitely make it again and again.

  13. Melony Panzarino says:

    可 乐 14:22:00

  14. Oggi says:

    Hi Jude,

    I don’t know if you still visit your blog but a fraud has copied parts of your post and photo on his blog and facebook. This is one of his latest entries. He stole 6 of my posts and photos as well.

    Here’s the link


  15. Matt Kay says:

    As I was reading this I was wondering if you’d point out the differences between Mexican adobo and Filipino adobo. :D

    Great recipe. Short ribs are an under-rated cut of meat in my opinion. They have such a rich flavor and cooking them with all the liquid can tenderize them and impart such great flavor.

    Good stuff!
    Matt Kay

  16. Blossom Wiedemann says:

    Thank you, very useful. I wasnt really a big fan of Spinach for many years ( lie, I hated the stuff), but after marrying a vegan I kind of had to get used to it, and have slowly come to absolutely love the stuff. Spinach curry is now my absolute favouritest! I recently found an entire spinach recipes website which is my new favourite site now, you should take a look!

  17. Vfrankz says:

    What great memories you have of time spent at Grandmas. They served short ribs on our cruise, but I just kept thinking they weren’t as good as the ones we made.

  18. Pinoy Lover says:

    I’ve had this dish in a number of variations. I think the Beef version is well yummo because it can take the strong flavours of the vinegar. I often find Adobo either too vinegary or too sweet when I’ve had it in the Philippines but this one doesn’t have the sugar element and turns out nice.
    What I did; after browning the meat and getting rid of most of the fat, I then fried off the garlic and then added the vinegar and reduced it by 3/4. I used beef stock instead of water, added half a cup of water, the soy, a table spoon of freshly crack black pepper and 2 bay leaves and cooked it for about 50 minutes in a pressure cooker.

    The meat was spot on, almost falling off the bone. I removed the meat and slightly reduced the sauce so that it was a bit thicker. To finished I served it with creamy mashed potatoes and fried Asian greens. I know it is supposed to be served with rice but I wanted to try something different.

    It turn wow…and everyone loved it. I’m gonna try a version with a sweeter vinegar next time and might try using some 5spice power and orange peel!

    Has anyone experimented with this recipe?

    Happy Cooking!

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