Ok, so humba.
I feel pretty comfortable calling this my favorite Filipino food, although it’s a close tie between this and Pancit. It is officially my favorite favorite when it is made in that hot little kitchen half way up a bumpy mountain road by the CSC aunties, because never once did I eat a better tasting Filipino Humba than the versions from each of the orphanage houses.
Humba is really similar to pork adobo, but there’s frying involved. And pork belly. AAHHH! SCARY!!! Yes, I know how you feel. It’s unfamiliar to Westerners (except, um, bacon?) and therefore it can be a little intimidating to either buy or eat. But once you get the I’m-scared-of-pork-belly drama out of the way, you can understand this: pork belly is intensely juicy and delicious like no other meat and you should not substitute anything for it if you’re making Humba that you want to taste amazing.
The CSC aunties’ Humba was so juicy, 100% fall-off-the-bone tender, and just completely saturated with rich, sweet flavor. In that pot we’ve got the fried pork belly, a sweet and salty sauce that wants to be soaked up by steaming white rice, pineapple, black beans, and green onions. You can kind of see through the progression of pictures that by the end, this meat is like a deep caramel golden brown. That, my friends, is the color of delicious.
My most beloved Humba recipe (although not the one used for this post) was given to me by one of the house fathers, Tarex. I’m pretty sure he noticed me harassing everyone for their Humba recipes and either wanted to help me out and/or put an end to the Humba recipe obsession. So one day when I was in the kitchen, he grabbed the only piece of paper he could find laying around which was obviously was totally crumpled and covered with crayon kid scribbles, and transcribed his own personal Humba recipe over the scribbles for me.
It’s hanging on my fridge and it represents for me the crazy sweet intersection of food and life and CSC. ♥
- 2 lb. bone-in pork belly (the cut of pork should be part lean meat, part fat; it can also be boneless)
- 1-2 cups oil for frying
- 1 tablespoon azucena (substitute onion)
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (more to taste)
- ¼ cup pineapple tidbits
- ¼ cup black beans
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup vinegar
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 ¼ cup water
- ½ cup green onions
- Separate the fat from the lean meat by cutting the pork belly into medium sized pieces (about 2 inch by 1 inch). Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium low heat and cook the pieces of pork until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from oil and drain in a bowl lined with paper towels.
- Transfer the pork to a large pot and add all the remaining ingredients except the green onions. Mix well and bring to a low boil over medium heat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally. After 30 minutes, add the green onions and stir to mix them into the pot.
- Cover again and simmer for an additional 30 minutes, or until the pork is very tender.
And just in case you need to watch an awesome video of my favorite kids in the world getting ready for their first day of school.
Which, you do.