Humba (Visayan Braised Pork Belly)

Introducing adobo's sweeter Visayan cousin, humba: braised pork belly in pineapple juice and soy sauce, then studded with salted black beans.
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Difficulty
Easy
Servings
2–3 servings
Prep Time
10 Mins
Active Time
1 Hr 15 Mins

Humba, the Visayan braised pork dish, has roots in Chinese cuisine. Historians believe its origins trace back to hong ba, or hong shao rou, meaning “red-cooked pork”: big slices of pork belly stewed in soy sauce, sugar, and spices. Chinese traders brought the dish to Visayas, which Filipino cooks then adapted to their own ingredients and tastes.

Humba now bears a closer resemblance to adobo than hong ba, making it its richer, sweeter Visayan cousin.

What makes humba different from adobo?

Both adobo and humba use soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves. What sets them apart?

  • Humba is sweeter. While adobo is acidic, savory, and garlicky, humba is sweet, savory, and rich. The sweetness usually comes from sugar, brown sugar (especially in Visayas), or pineapple juice.
  • Humba has Chinese ingredients. Humba has key ingredients not commonly found in native Filipino cuisine, namely fermented black beans (tausi) and banana blossoms. Some variations may also include star anise and cinnamon.

What other ingredients go into humba?

According to Edgie Polistico’s Philippine Food, Cooking, & Dining Dictionary, you’ll find these ingredients in humba variations across Luzon and Visayas:

  • Chinese fermented black beans or tausi. Also known as dou chi, these salty black beans are a key ingredient in humba. They have an intense savory flavor—think highly concentrated soy sauce—that adds an earthy umami to the braise.
  • Dried banana blossoms or kinchamsay. If you’ve ever prepared puso ng saging for kare-kare, banana blossoms are the small flowers you find between the petals, nestled  in neat rows like matchsticks.
  • Fermented bean curd or tahure. Also called fermented tofu or tofu cheese. These cheese-like cubes come in jars of brine and pack a funky umami flavor.
  • Ripe saba bananas. Sliced bananas add a soft, sweet element to the stew, as they do in pochero and nilaga.
  • Whole peanuts. More common in Visayan humba, crunchy peanuts make a delicious offset to the tender pork.

Like any Filipino stew, it welcomes whatever add-ons the home cook fancies. Try vegetables, pineapple chunks, or hard-boiled eggs. Don’t forget the extra rice!

Ingredients

  • 450g pork belly, sliced into chunks
  • ½ cup diced white onion
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • ½ cup pineapple juice
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons salted black beans (tausi), soaked for 15 minutes
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • ½ cup dried banana blossoms
1

Sear pork: Heat a bit of oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pork belly and sear until all sides are golden brown. Remove from pot and set aside.

2

Braise pork: Reduce heat to medium. Add onion and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent. Return pork belly to pot. Add pineapple juice, water, soy sauce, and bay leaf. Stir and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cover pot and cook until pork is fork-tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

3

Add black beans and banana blossoms: Once pork is tender, stir in salted black beans (soaked then drained) and white vinegar. Still simmering, add banana blossoms and cook, covered, for another 5 minutes or until blossoms are soft. Transfer to a serving bowl and enjoy with steamed rice.

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