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Traditional Filipino Braised Pork Belly cooked with soy based marinade flavored with star anise. Humba or “homba” is a popular Filipino braised pork dish from the Visayas Islands of the Philippines.  Traditionally, pork belly is prepared using a slow-cooking process.

WHAT IS PORK HUMBA?

Humba or “homba” is a popular Filipino braised pork dish from the Visayas Islands of the Philippines.  Traditionally, pork belly is prepared using a slow-cooking process.

The origin of Humba is derived from the Chinese ‘red braised pork belly’ or hóngshāoròu, or also known as hong ma or hong bai, which was imported to the Philippines by Hokkein immigrants, but varies greatly from the original dish in that the Filipino humba has developed to be cooked similar to the Filipino adobo.

Humba can be prepared with chicken or pork legs. Humba is similar to the Chinese variant of the patatim dish, but humba is more likely to be sweeter and succulent. While Pork Humba is similar to Filipino Adobo, the two dishes are similar in flavor, Humba is more “sweet , sour and salty” all at once in flavor, while Adobo is more likely to be “sour and salty.”

WHAT IT IS MADE OF?

Pork Humba is essentially a braised pork belly marinated with soy sauce and brown sugar. Ideally, it has black beans, bay leaf and peppercorns, although this depends on the choice of the maker.

Humba and Adobo are more likely to be the same. So what is it different? Adobo uses ingredients such as pork, soy sauce, vinegar, peppercorn and bay leaf, while Humba uses all the main ingredients in Adobo with the addition of brown sugar, salted black beans or commonly known as tausi and banana blossoms.

Some Filipinos tend to use pork legs because they bring more meaty taste to their bones than to the pork belly. Although of course, it takes more time to prepare humba with a pork leg rather than a pork belly. If you’re not a pork person or you do not want to eat pork, however you want to eat humba, you can still use chicken as a good alternative for pork belly.

This recipe takes about 2 hours for pork belly, or at least 4 hours for pork legs, but I can guarantee you that it will be worth the wait. This recipe is certainly going to be a very sweet and melt-in-the-mouth cuisine. Eating humba with a pair of rice is such a major factor.

TIPS IN COOKING THIS PORK HUMBA RECIPE

  • While you can combine it all in one step, take the extra effort to brown your pork belly. Searing at high heat caramelizes the surface of the meat. that brings more dynamic flavors to the dish.
  • Rinse thoroughly the salty flavor of black beans before adding it to your Pork Humba.
  • It is not advisable to marinate the meat for longer than 8 hours. The acidity of the vinegar and pineapple juice can break down the protein fibers of the meat.
  • Cook the meat low and slow to allow the fat to develop and the tough, connective tissues to soften to the tenderness of the melt-in-your-mouth.
  • I like adding pineapple juice to this Humba recipe because it helps to add a sweet and fruity flavor.
  • Instead of using white sugar for this Humba recipe, brown sugar is better used to sweeten the dish. It has a slightly less concentrated sugar and contains molasses that complement the rich taste of the sauce.

Humba

Servings

8

servings

Traditional Filipino Braised Pork Belly cooked with soy based marinade flavored with star anise.

Ingredients

  • 1 kilo Pork Belly, cut into cubes

  • ¼ cup Vinegar

  • ¼ cup Soy Sauce

  • ¾ cup Pineapple Juice

  • 1 piece Onion, medium (chopped)

  • 5 cloves Garlic (minced)

  • 2 tablespoon Brown Sugar

  • 2 pieces Star Anise (optional)

  • ¼ cup Banana Blossoms

  • ¼ cup Salted Black Beans (rinsed)

  • 1 teaspoon Peppercorns, whole

  • 2 pieces bay leaf

  • 2-3 cups Water (as needed)

Directions

  • Cut pork belly into serving portions then marinate it with vinegar, soy sauce, and pineapple juice. Mix well. Marinate pork belly for at least 1 hour.
  • After marinating, drain the marinade sauce and reserve it. Do not throw the marinade as you will still be using it for making your pork humba sauce later.
  • Pan-fry the meat until light brown and the oil from its fat comes out. Once the oil from the meat has been rendered, remove the cooked meat from the pan while leaving the rendered oil for sautéing. Set aside the cooked meat.
  • (Note: Base on my experience, during this stage, be extra cautious because the hot oil will splatter and burn you. You can use a splatter guard or leave the pan covered and cook on low heat.)
  • In the same pan, sauté the chopped onions and minced garlic.
  • Add the cooked meat onto sautéed onions and garlic and mix well. Add star anise, bay leaf, peppercorn, brown sugar and the reserved marinade. Add at least 2-3 cups of water depending on the quantity of sauce you want.
  • Cover the pan and simmer in low heat fire for 1 hour or until the meat is tender. Using the fork to determine the tenderness of the meat.
  • Add banana blossoms and rinsed black beans and mix well. Cover again your pan and simmer for another 5 minutes in low heat fire.
  • Pork humba is best served with rice. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Sauté the onion before the garlic first.
  • Using star anise to your Pork Humba will help to intensify the sweet aroma.
  • The slow cooking process of pork humba gives the pork a more natural taste.
  • Pork Legs can be better suited to pork humba because it offers a meaty taste to the bones. Chicken may also be used as a substitute for humba.
  • Always taste your food before serving.

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