Oct 22, 2014

Humba or Filipino Pork Adobo

Humba or Filipino Pork Adobo
Humba is one local pork recipe which is said to be an all-time man food. As such, this recipe is something which every woman should have in her cooking repertoire if she were to charm her way into her man’s stomach, er, heart. Now, to be clear, this is not the reason I set out to learn this dish. In fact, I was rather late in trying my hand at this famous recipe -- already married and nearing the age when pork dishes are supposed to be a no-no.

Really, humba or pork adobo is a party favorite among Filipinos. It is a staple in fiestas and celebrations. Simmered long in a mixture of herbs, soy sauce and vinegar, the pork becomes jiggly-soft and delicately flavored, and the thick syrup (the syrup, yes!) is simply, decadently and indulgently divine.

Now I know this is a health blog and that I am supposed to feature healthy recipes here. However, if you’ve been around this blog for long, you may have noticed my contradictions. Yes, I am a compromiser of sorts, at least in the health department. My husband chides me for being so quick to learn new health facts and yet so slow in unlearning bad, old habits.

So then forgive me now if you find it abominable for a health blogger to feature humba recipe here. Humba or pork adobo is villified (and rightfully so) as being cholesterol-laden, saturated fat-bathed and devoid of fiber or antioxidants. Well, I go back to my trusty advice to just pair this with a side of salad greens. And to just practice moderation -- such as limiting yourself to a matchbox-size of serving -- which is nearly impossible with humba unfortunately.

I suspect the only healthful thing you’d get out of this dish is the surge of pleasure chemicals you’ll experience when you taste this. No kidding. This dish is man food and woman food and kid food. It’s that good.

Different regions in the Philippines holds slightly different versions of humba or pork adobo.
Some like it salty and umami-rich.
Some like it sweetish.
Some put in mushrooms.
Some put in purple yams.
Some like it saucy.
Some like it almost dry and with only the oil remaining.

Personally, I like it saucy and a tad sweet, with lots of herbs and with lots of purple or white yam. The photo here is a throwback, one that I snapped maybe a year ago. I no longer cook humba nowadays as a rule. The only exceptions are on church occasions and birthdays. When I do find myself confronted with this gastronomic temptation called humba, I now stick to the sauce and the yams.

Here’s my version of humba.

  1. Buy a kilo or two of pork. In Filipino groceries, there are adobo cuts which are typically 1 cubic-inch cuts of pork, with some accompanying fat.
  2. Wash and drain the pork and put into a non-reactive pot.
  3. Pour in coconut vinegar up to about half the level of the meat.
  4. Pour in soy sauce up to about ¾ of the level of  the meat.
  5. Put in, in no particular order, 3 to 5 cloves of crushed garlic, chopped onions, a teaspoon of whole black peppercorns, about 3 to 5 bay leaves, a dash of black pepper powder, about 1/4 cup of fermented black beans, some mushrooms, a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar and chunks of purple yam. There's also this saging-saging which I do not know the English term of.
  6. Add in enough water to cover the meat. Some use 7up or Sprite instead of water, I don’t know why, though it does make it more flavorful, though less healthful.
  7. Bring the pot to a boil and then simmer until the meat becomes jiggly-soft and the liquid turns into a dark, thick syrup. The best of humbas take about 4 to 6 hours of slow simmering.

Enjoy with moderation and don’t forget the salad of greens to counter the fat. Enjoy at your own risk, lol.
Humba or Filipino Pork Adobo

Oct 16, 2014

Product Giveaways: Porcelana Whitening Lotion and Sunblock with SPF 30

Remember my product review on Novuhair Anti-hair loss/hair fall shampoo and hair tonic? Well, the people behind that bestselling product have graciously sent me a gift pack containing their new beauty products -- Porcelana Whitening Lotion and Porcelana Sunblock with SPF 30.

Here are the descriptions of the products as printed on their labels:

Porcelana Sunblock with SPF 30
A lightweight and mineral oil-free cream that helps protect the skin by stopping the harmful UVA and UVB rays from penetrating the skin.
Directions for use: Apply liberally on desired areas before sun exposure. For added protection, reapply after swimming, excessive perspiration or extended sun exposure.

Note: This product is not organic as it contains parabens as well as TEA or triethanolamine.

Porcelana Whitening Lotion
Porcelana Whitening Lotion is a light and non-greasy lotion that moisturizes, lightens and protects the skin naturally with Lumiskin, an extraordinary antioxidant that makes the skin lighter and more radiant. The addition of Chamomile extract known for its antibacterial and antiseptic properties makes Porcelana safe even for sensitive skin.

Notable ingredients include almond triglycerides and chamomile extract.
This is not an organic product though, as it contains parabens -- 5 kinds to be exact.

For some weeks I have been mulling over what I would do with these products. You see, I have been trying, ever so slowly, to wean myself from toxic-laden products -- either in food or toiletries -- and these products are not entirely organic in the purist way. Though certainly much better off than the rest of the mainstream toiletries we often see in grocery aisles, these products contain parabens which I do not approve of.

However, if it’s of any comfort to you, we really cannot avoid toxins. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the TV in our living room, the wifi in the etherspace, the bottles in our medicine cabinet -- why, even our own metabolic processes -- are bombarding us with toxins every hour. You know what I just do? I make sure I eat antioxidants in the form of live fruits and vegetables and some choice (not commercial) food supplements and then I try to get enough sleep and put in exercise (argh, though).

Now back to the products: I am simply featuring them here as my way of thanking the people who sent them to me for free. I’m also thinking of sending these free to any of my readers in the Philippines.

If you want to receive one of these products, and if you don’t mind the parabens, do the following:
  1. Like the Be healthy and well facebook page. If you have liked it already, just tell me your facebook name so I can verify that you have indeed, liked.
  2. In the comment box below, tell me how you came across my blog (examples: searched for moringa in google, referred to by a friend, seen in topblogs.ph, or just stumbled upon it, etc.) and then tell me what you like about my blog. I will not dare ask you what you do not like about my blog as am weak-hearted like that, lol. That’s it. I will pick two next week and ask the winners via email for their mailing addresses I will use in sending the products.

Oct 6, 2014

Linarang -- Fish cooked in Coconut Wine, Coconut Milk and Herbs

Linarang -- fish cooked in coconut wine, coconut milk and herbs
I hope you’d all agree with me (at least the Filipinos here), that when it comes to cooking, pinoy homemakers and cooks generally just wing it in the kitchen. It seems to me that there hardly is any place for recipe books and cards in the average Filipino hearth.

For one, I haven’t seen my own mama looking over a recipe book when she was cooking -- no, no, not in the 40 years of my existence. Neither did any of those amazing lady cousins who cooked amazingly tasty dishes all those years I was growing up. I knew of an uncle who rarely took a taste of what he’s cooking. He simply sniffed the simmering soup or stew and can instinctively sense if it tasted right.

There seems to be an unspoken creed among the admired cooks I know to just let your pinch be your measuring spoon and your senses be your guide. It seems to me that there is, traditionally, a slight disdain for those who must refer constantly to recipe books -- as if those who do fall just a little short of what a “seasoned cook” should be.

I’ve long since overgrown that conventional standard to judge cooks by their independence from recipe books. This age of culinary adventurism must, of necessity, enlist the help of recipe books and cards and sites.

However, what if a recipe cannot be found in recipe books or cooking blogs? What if, like most Filipino regional dishes like paksiw/inon-on, tinola and bas-oy, the dishes are passed on from generation to generation sans tangible records known as recipe books? Well, the only option would be to find that person who knows how to cook it and watch him do  it. He probably cannot recount to you in terms of teaspoons and cups but his hands know instinctively how to go about it.

This is how I learned to cook this dish called linarang. This is a fish-based dish that I tasted when we were in Cebu recently for a vacation and I loved it so much that I just had to know how to cook it. I had to wait for a couple of months before finally finding that one person who knows how to cook it and I thank heavens for the opportunity to watch him cook it. And then, when my turn came to cook it myself, I had to just wing it, just as my forbears have done in this charming country of ours.

Linarang -- fish cooked in coconut wine, coconut milk and herbs
Here are what you need:
  • Fish -- You need a fatty, white-meat kind of fish. In this case I used eel. Forgive me now if you find that gross, you can certainly find yourself a more genteel fish out there. Salmon would perhaps be more to your liking.
  • Herbs -- The one thing that I find lovely about this dish is that it uses many kinds of herbs -- which is a good thing from a nutritional standpoint. You need the following: garlic, red onions, ginger, red bell pepper, red-ripe tomatoes, green chili pepper, lemon, black pepper corns and bay leaf. Why, there seems to be a whole cornucopia of herbs in there!
  • Vinegar -- Traditionally the vinegar used by Cebuanos is tuba-bahal or slightly fermented coconut wine. It’s the traditional wine among the old drunkards in the barrios -- but it’s better be used as a cooking wine, if you ask me.
  • Coconut Milk -- The world's yummiest and healthiest cooking milk.

Linarang -- fish cooked in coconut wine, coconut milk and herbs
  1. Put all the slices of fish on the bottom of a non-reactive pot (stainless steel or ceramic) and then pour tuba-bahal up to the point of barely covering the fish.
  2. Add in all the herbs in there, in no particular order for your comfort. 
  3. Season with salt. Now here’s the hitch as most pinoy cooks do not measure salt at all. My hands, for instance, just know just how much salt to pinch and put in to the pot. You can also use fermented black beans for more complex saltiness.
  4. Bring the pot to a boil and then lower the heat. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
  5. Pour in the coconut milk and then simmer for 10 more minutes.

Linarang -- fish cooked in coconut wine, coconut milk and herbs

Now dive in to this rich, succulent, complex and full-bodied milky-spicy taste of linarang, Cebu’s regional dish. Have a cup of steaming hot rice ready as that creamy, aromatic soup just has to be poured forth on a mound of hot rice and not bread.

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