Of Filipino-Spanish origins, pork asado de carajay is a stew cooked in a carajay (say ‘ka-rah-hay’), a large, deep pot shaped like a wok, which has a round flat bottom. This asado recipe is an all-in-one meal, with chunks of pork simmered in a tomato sauce-based broth with potatoes, carrots, chickpeas, bell peppers, and cabbage. The entrée is easy to make any day, all year round. It cooks quickly, and the family gets the wholesome goodness of meat and various vegetables, in a thick, savory, slightly sweet sauce. Simply simmer and serve it.
A One-Pan Dish With Big Rewards
I depend on favorite recipes like asado de carajay to help me make dinner on busy days. I cook the meat and vegetables, in one vessel, from start to finish. When my sons were little, it was a way to make them eat vegetables. The thickened, sweet tomato-flavored sauce coated the potatoes, carrots, and cabbage leaves well, making it a pleasant dining experience.
This recipe can be a template. My mom cooked asado de carajay often using chicken. My version has pork cubes because of its availability, and it cooks quickly. I use pork shoulder, pork loin, or even boneless pork chops cut in serving sizes. One can also use beef cubes, and it is just as superb. For special dinners, I add Spanish chorizo to give the stew a piquant flavor.
Origins and History
Filipino cooking has many Spanish-influenced dishes, since the Philippines was a colony of Spain for 300 years, as far back as the 16th century. Asado de carajay is one of those dishes, just like many others we enjoy to this day. In Philippine cooking, asado is basically meat cooked in a sauce.
A common cooking vessel from those eras was the carajay, also known as karahay in the Tagalog language, a cookware which resembles a Chinese wok.
In my mother and grandmother’s time, this was a fixture in kitchens that made many memorable meals. Made of aluminum or stainless steel, the 12 to 14-inch diameter cookware was dependable, and still is, for home cooks to stir-fry, braise, deep-fry, simmer, sauté, boil, or steam. If you don’t own a carajay or a wok, a large saucepan will work just as well.
In Philippine cooking, simmering meats and vegetables in a sauce together is fundamental. Backyard vegetables in season have always been the backbone of many Filipino dishes, especially in the rural countryside. Adding bite-sized meats to a saucy broth is the usual. And plenty of sauce, enough to pour on steamed rice, is the norm.
Sometimes, when I make asado de carajay, I cook the meat ahead, swirling in the tomato sauce broth, then I freeze it to save for a hectic week. I simply reheat the meat and sauce, then add the vegetables to cook together with the rest before dinner. By then, the slightly tart tomato sauce has had time to set, tastes sweeter, and is thicker.
More One-Pot Meals
Pork Asado de Carajay
Pre-cooking the pork helps make the meat more tender and moist. The resulting pork broth adds a depth and tastier flavor when added back to the sauté.
This recipe can be a template. I use pork shoulder, pork loin, or even boneless pork chops cut in serving sizes. One can also use beef cubes or chicken. Swap out or omit any of the vegetables. For special dinners, I add Spanish chorizo to give the stew a piquant flavor.
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, fat trimmed (leave a sliver on top), cut in 2-inch cubes (or use pork loin)
Salt, as needed
Ground black pepper, as needed
3 to 4 cups water, for pre-cooking pork
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, sliced
2 scallions, white parts only, chopped (reserve the greens)
2 large tomatoes, quartered
2 large red or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch wedges
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce (preferably Silver Swan, or a Chinese brand)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups pork broth, reserved from pre-cooking the pork
100 grams green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
200 grams cabbage, coarsely sliced (about 2 cups)
1 medium-sized red or green bell pepper, sliced and seeded
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained
2 scallion greens, chopped, for garnish
Steamed rice, for serving
Pre-cook the pork:
In a carajay, non-reactive wok, or large, wide saucepan, add the pork cubes and pour in enough water to cover the meat.
Season with a pinch each of salt and black pepper.
Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat. If any scum forms around the sides of the pot, remove it with a slotted spoon. Reduce heat as needed to maintain a simmer and cook until the pork is tender, for 35 to 40 minutes.
Remove the meat from the pan and set aside. Reserve at least 2 cups of the pork broth and set aside.
Keep any leftover broth in the refrigerator or freezer for future dishes like stir-fries or soups.
Make the sauce:
Use the same carajay, wok or saucepan. Pat dry with paper towels.
Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the oil. When oil is hot enough, sauté the garlic, onions, scallion whites, and tomatoes until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes.
Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, soy sauce, and sugar and stir to combine. Add the reserved 2 cups of pork broth. Stir, then add the potatoes, carrots, and pre-cooked pork pieces.
Lower the heat to medium. Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are soft, about 10 minutes. The sauce should be thicker and the tart taste nearly gone.
Add the other vegetables:
To the simmering pan, add the green beans, cabbage, bell peppers, and chickpeas.
Season with salt and black pepper. Cover and cook for 10 minutes more. Stir the sauce every so often. When ready, the sauce will have a deep red color and have a thick, rich consistency.
When vegetables are cooked, garnish with the reserved chopped scallion greens.
Refrigerate leftovers for up to 2 days. I do not recommend freezing, as the potatoes get watery and affect the tomato sauce flavor.
Love the recipe? Leave us stars and a comment below!
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 38g||49%|
|Saturated Fat 12g||62%|
|Total Carbohydrate 47g||17%|
|Dietary Fiber 9g||31%|
|Total Sugars 14g|
|Vitamin C 57mg||286%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|