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.