Heat the oil over LOW or MEDIUM-LOW heat in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic and cook until it begins to turn light brown, about 1 minute. Do not burn!
Carefully add the water, vinegar, soy sauce, bay leaves and peppercorns to the garlic. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Discard the garlic cloves and season with (salt and) pepper to taste. Adobo sauce will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
USES: Good on everything-marinade for pork, chicken, tofu!, etc. Try a spoonful or so on hot steamed white rice! Manna!