New Recipes

Braised Pork Belly Recipe (Filipino Humba)

Greetings! I am currently in Beijing and will be in Asia for a few weeks, including a brief side trip back to Penang. I will try to blog and share my experiences with you, but today, let’s welcome guest blogger Franco from the Philippines at Table for Three, Please. Franco and his wife recently joined my family’s culinary tour in Penang and enjoyed it. You can read their experiences here. Table for Three is a wonderful blog that offers a visual glimpse of Filipino cuisine (which many people wish to learn more) with well-articulated posts and a down-to-earth voice, which I admire and adore. Franco made braised pork belly or “Humba” for us. Dig in and enjoy!

Good food always travels.

Humba is an interesting dish. This slow braised pork belly is coated in a sweet glaze of panocha or palm sugar and given depth of flavor with the addition of soy sauce, salted black beans, and star anise. Although this dish finds its local roots in the Eastern provinces of Samar and Leyte, just by casually perusing the ingredients listed below, it is clear that this “local” dish has origins beyond our own shores.

If you are willing to search further, it would seem that most Asian culinary cultures have a version of this dish of braised pork belly, sweetened by sugar and balanced by a savory counterpoint of soy sauce, rice wine or even fish sauce. The Chinese flavor their Dongpo Pork with Shaoxing wine. The Vietnamese mix eggs with their Thit Heo Kho Trung. The Japanese savor their Buta No Kakuni with hint of sake. The list goes on.

Even within every Filipino household, the preparation of this simple Humba varies greatly. Besides the usual addition and subtraction of ingredients, some recipes recommend the use of pig trotters instead of the more common pork belly. Adding to complexity of this dish, other recipes even suggest adding mushrooms, banana blossoms, rice wine, hard-boiled eggs and even potatoes into the mix.I choose to keep things relatively simple–cooking a tried-and-true family recipe.

Enter to Win FREE Prizes

Vinturi Vertical Lever Wine Corkscrew Giveaway
Tovolo Christmas 2015 Bundle Giveaway
Jacob Bromwell U.S. Embossed Tin Cup Giveaway

33 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

  1. Anonymous

    Hi, how do you compare this to adobo? Which one tastes better? It seems like the basic ingredients are the same, but I might be wrong. I’ve never had any Filipino food and am anxious to try.

  2. Mmm — braised pork belly… my mouth is watering right now!

    Have fun traveling around Asia – I’m so jealous and wish I could go back and just eat my way around the continent.

  3. I love braised pork belly. In fact, I just had one last night–Taiwanese braised pork belly. The only thing I didn’t like about it was the use of bamboo shoots that overpower it. Yours look simple and delish, the way it’s supposed to be.

  4. NYMY

    I would love to eat this more, but my wife doesn’t eat pork…but at least I can gawk at your fatty pork belly and drool. Hahahaha…

  5. Hello My Taste Heaven. There really is no better way to enjoy this dish than with a hot, steaming bowl of rice. Yum. :)

    Hi Craft Passion. What’s not to love? Not much. Unless you dislike taste of sweet-salty pork that just seems to melt in your mouth. Starting to drool.

    Thanks for the link. Ninette. :)

    Hey Anon. Hmmm. That’s a tough question. Let me say first, that every province, every town and every household has a variation of both Adobo and Humba. So really comparing the two is…difficult. Yes, they are similar but because of the addition of other ingredients, the character of the final dishes change significantly. For me, it really depends. There are day when I love the salty-sour of Adobo (I prefer chicken) and there are days I crave for nice big serving of Humba.

    Hi Stacy. I agree. Excuse me. I need to eat a piece of bread or something.

    Thanks Eating 365. Never had the Taiwanese version before. Still sounds worth the try despite the bamboo shoots. :)

    Hello NYMY. Funny enough. My wife, right now, doesn’t like anything stewed or braised. So when it comes to dishes like Humba, I’m pretty much cooking for myself. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. :)

  6. Great post! I love humba and I’m so glad you shared your delicious sounding recipe! That has got to be one of the most sophisticated looking humbas I’ve seen around :)

  7. Junsi

    Hi Anonymous!

    Humba is more similar to Dongpo pork: it has a subtly sweet undertone. Adobo is more intense: cooked right, Adobo really has the strong scent of garlic and pepper.

    If you like pungent/garlicky dishes, then Adobo is better :p

  8. Sarap! My gosh, that really looks good. I’d like to try it but hubby and sons aren’t into fatty pork. Maybe I’ll prepare these when friends come over!

  9. OMG, This is just the recipe I’ve been looking for! I love Adobo but when I tasted Humba, it really blew me away. I just couldn’t get the recipe right. The star anise makes all the difference. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  10. I love how the dish looks. It looks so sophisticated. I have had this before but it didn’t look as saucy or as tender and appealing as the one on your photo. It tasted just okay. Your post makes me want to try it out again.

  11. Heather

    Can someone tell me how sweet this dish is? I am not a huge fan of sweet things. I really do want to try it so I need to know. Would it be fine modified without so much sugar? Thanks!

    • Peter Kong

      I never put sugar in my cooking but in this case I would just put 1/2 cup of the palm sugar so it won’t be so sweet.

  12. Saz

    it is a sophisticated looking humba eh? hehehe

    franco is right, there’s so many version’s of humba/adobo so it really is hard to compare both. i have tasted my aunt’s adobo that has a lot of chile and yet its not that spicy at all. then my friends mom cooks her adobo really dry yet when you go take a bite of that meat. you’ll be surprised how tasty and flavorfull it is. humba in the other hand, as you can see, its not really advisable for the one’s that has a heart problem or you’ll have a heart attack with pleasure XD

    humba is more into the salty side, the beans add contrast to it’s taste. the only difference i think is you can cook adobo with chicken or pork (or both at same time which i have seen a few times).

    Humba got introduced to me by a friend from Camarines Norte(a province in the Philippines) and god… the dish made me eat a lot of rice, its just perfect =P

  13. aaliyahfe

    Rasa Malaysia or Franco:

    When i cook humba, i usually fry (either deep or skillet fry)first the cut pieces of pork belly inorder to get rid of at least half of the liquid fats of each of the pieces of meat, before doing the rest of the procedure……just my way of preparing humba…….but i’ve tried your recipe, so yummy too!……thanks for posting food filipino.

  14. mareza

    oh i love this, reminds me of my college life.i never liked adodo much and my husband don’t care either.being grown up makes you watch what you eat, but for a treat this is really awesome.

  15. Peter Kong

    The braised pork I tasted in Malacca was scrumptious with cooked sliced yam in between each slice of pork. Eaten with plain small buns you can dip into the thick gravy.

    Have never forgotten that dish.

  16. jayson mcforest

    at home in, we never cooked Humba with peanuts, we cooked it with tofu and with brown sugar instead of palm sugar.The best Humba is pig head…

  17. old.frt

    Dear God, I’ve died and gone to heaven.
    Humba sounds like a religious experience.
    Best of all you can play with the liturgy and never be an apostate!
    I look forward to an epiphany accompanied by plain white rice.

  18. As you mentioned correctly, there are as many recipes as there are households :-) i just would like to share mine here if you don’t mind. I took it from the lovely island of Siquijor in the Visayas.
    I use 3 kg pork belly, which i gently fry in a dry pan to release some of it’s fat. i remove most of the liquid fat and then add 2 cups soy sauce, 2 cups cane vinegar, about 1/2 cup brown sugar, some smashed garlic gloves, a can of salted black beans, a few pcs of banana blossom and a little black pepper. I should add 2-3 pcs bayleaves, but we don’t like that. I love star anise, but believe it doesn’t belong in humba, again, just my opinion. all this will be braised very slowly for 2-3 hours. In case you are wondering, I am German, I am a chef and I made the Philippiens my home :-)

  19. Vt Collaço

    I like the Pilipino Humba for braised Pork Belly, I hid not the weight of the meat. Can you tell me. I enjoyed the recipe of others. Thanks

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *