Why It Works
- Filipino cane vinegar has a unique flavor that's neither overly tart, like distilled vinegar, nor as tame as rice vinegar. It's essential for this dish.
- The right window of marination time infuses the pork chops with plenty of flavor, but prevents them from growing tough and mushy from prolonged exposure to the acid.
Filipino adobo is a classic dish, usually of stewed chicken or pork in a tangy, flavorful sauce made from cane vinegar, soy sauce, and aromatics. But the building blocks of the adobo sauce also make a great marinade for grilled meats, like the pork chops here. The secret to getting the adobo flavor right is to use Filipino cane vinegar; Datu Puti is the most famous brand.
- 1/2 cup (120ml) cane vinegar, preferably Datu Puti brand
- 1/3 cup (80ml) soy sauce
- 1/2 cup (120ml) water
- 3 medium cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- Two (12-ounce; 334g) bone-in pork chops, about 1 1/2 inches thick
- Warm cooked sticky rice, for serving (see note)
In a medium saucepan, combine vinegar, soy sauce, water, garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Let marinade cool to room temperature.
Place pork chops in a heavy-duty zipper-lock bag and pour marinade on top. Seal, pressing out air from bag, and refrigerate at least 8 and up to 24 hours.
Light 1 chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread coals evenly over half of coal grate. Alternatively, set half the burners of a gas grill to high heat. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil grilling grate.
Grill pork chops over direct heat, turning occasionally, until well browned outside and 135°F (57°C) in the center for medium, about 10 minutes. If pork chops threaten to burn before they're done in the center, move them to cooler side of grill to finish cooking. Let rest 5 minutes before serving with sticky rice.
If you feel ambitious, you can make a batch of sticky rice a day ahead, chill it in the refrigerator, then form it into large, handball-sized balls when you're ready to cook the pork chops. Brush the rice balls with the marinade, then grill them, turning, until browned all over; brush occasionally with more marinade as they cook.