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.
- 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.
- Wash and drain the pork and put into a non-reactive pot.
- Pour in coconut vinegar up to about half the level of the meat.
- Pour in soy sauce up to about ¾ of the level of the meat.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.