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Braised Pork Belly Recipe (Filipino Humba)


Braised Pork Belly or Filipino Humba Recipe

Serves 4


5 cups water or enough water to cover the pork belly
3 lbs pork belly, trimmed of thicker layers of fat
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
¾ cup white vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
1 cup palm sugar
2 tbsp salted back beans
1 tsp ground black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 star anise
¼ cup peanuts, roasted with skins off


In a stockpot, place the water and pork belly. Bring the water to a rolling boil, leaving the pork to par-boil for at least 10 minutes. Take the pot off the heat and leave the belly in the water until cool. Remove the pork from the pot and place in the freezer to quickly chill. Reserve the boiling liquid or broth and place it in a refrigerator for later use.

In large mixing bowl, combine all the other ingredients. Mix well until the palm sugar has completely dissolved. This mixture will serve as both marinade and braising liquid.

Once the pork belly has achieved a comfortably sliceable consistency, remove it from the freezer and cut the belly into three-inch squares. Place pork cubes in the marinade and keep in refrigerator overnight.

An hour or two before braising, remove both the marinating pork belly and the reserved broth. Scrape off the layer of fat that has formed above the broth.

In a heavy pot, place the pork belly, the marinade and broth over high heat. Once at a boil, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and let it cook for at least two to three hours or until tender. Watch the fatty layer of the belly. If it begins to jiggle as it braises, the pork is tender and is ready to serve. You can also use a more conventional technique which is to poke the pork with a fork.

Once the pork is tender, remove the braised belly and set aside. Discard the bay leaves, turn up the heat under the braising liquid and reduce it to a slightly viscose-like sauce.

Cook’s Notes:

Like most braised meat, Humba makes great leftovers. Store the braised pork with the sauce in an airtight container in the freezer. To reheat, transfer to a heatproof serving dish and steam until warm through.

Serving this dish can be as simple as placing the braised pork in a bowl and pouring the reduced sauce over it–with bowls of steaming hot rice on hand. Or you could do it my way. I divide the pork belly into bite-size pieces, carefully pour the sauce (including the peanuts and black beans) over thin slices of pork and serve it with a side of ensalandang mangga or a simple chopped salad of mangoes, tomatoes and white onion–sharp sour flavors to contrast with the sweet fatty pork.

We may not be able to claim this dish as singularly our own. But our version, Humba, speaks to things that Pinoys love: our enjoyment of rich, vibrant and contrasting flavors, our obsession with all that is pork and our deep-seated passion for food that reminds us of home.

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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

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