True to its name, the bitter melon is, indeed, bitter. It’s especially common in Cantonese and Indian cooking, although is also used in cuisines elsewhere in Asia.

A Filipino specialty, adobo is a braised meat dish derived from native techniques and named by Spanish explorers. There are other types of adobo in other former Spanish colonies, particularly Latin America, but their origins are mostly different. Here we’ll focus on the Filipino tradition.

Just like it sounds, the term adobo is Spanish in origin, even if the cooking method is indigenous to the Philippines. Adobo is so ubiquitous in that country that it’s thought of by many to be their national dish — in spirit, at least, even if it’s not official.

In adobo, meat — most commonly chicken or pork — is braised in a vinegar base. This method originated through a need to preserve foods, since the tropical climate meant that meat would spoil quickly otherwise. Hence, adobo has a signature tang and acidity along with a hint of sweetness.

Other than the tangy vinegar foundation, adobo also includes plenty of garlic, soy sauce (or just plain salt in certain iterations), bay leaf, peppercorns, and other ingredients. Of course, just like so many dishes with a long history, there’s no one “right” recipe for adobo. There are many varieties, and different balances of ingredients within them that include lots of different supporting ingredients all depending on one’s preferences. Whatever the specifics of an adobo dish, it’s pretty much always served with white rice.

Spices, meat, and other ingredients for homemade adobo are available throughout all Uwajimaya locations.