Humba is a braised pork dish. Some say that humba is the Visayan version of pork adobo. Others claim that it is the local adaptation of Chinese red-braised pork belly. I tend to side with the proponents of the second theory.
Cooking humba starts with a slab of pork belly which is patted dry and seared in hot oil. The seared meat is then braised in a mixture of soy sauce, pineapple juice, vinegar, ketchup, fermented black beans, soy sauce, garlic, shallots, star anise, sugar and pepper.
In this recipe, the pork belly is cooked in very much the same manner in which Chinese red-braised pork belly is cooked. By the end of cooking time, it closely resembles its Chinese ancestor although the aroma and flavors of humba are uniquely its own.
Humba (Filipino-style Red-braised Pork Belly)Recipe by
- 1 kilogram pork belly
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 2 shallots or 1 onion, peeled and sliced
- 5 cloves garlic peeled and sliced
- 2 star anise
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons black bean sauce
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- ½ cup unsweetened pineapple juice
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- sliced scallions to garnish (optional)
- Pat the pork belly dry with paper towels.
- Heat the cooking oil in a wide thick-bottomed pan. Lower the pork in the hot oil, skin side down (watch out as the oil will spatter) and sear on all sides.
- Add the sliced shallots and garlic to the pork, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables soften a bit.
- Throw in the star anise and bay leaf.
- Add the black bean sauce and ketchup.
- Pour in the soy sauce, vinegar, pineapple juice and about a cup of water.
- Stir in the sugar and black pepper.
- Bring to the boil, cover the pan, lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Scoop out the pork and transfer to a cutting board.
- Cut the pork into one-fourth inch slices then slide back into the simmering sauce.
- Cover the pan once more and continue cooking the pork over low heat until tender.
- Serve your humba with rice. Optionally, garnish liberally with sliced scallions.