adobo dish featured

Pork Humba (Visayan Pork Adobo)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015Enz F

Adobo is a quintessential Filipino stewed or braised dish prepared using these basic ingredients – meat or vegetable, soy sauce, vinegar and garlic – and there are many ways to cook adobo as there are many cooks preparing them. In the Southern part of the Philippines, specifically in the Visayas and other parts of Mindanao, there is a famous delicacy known to be the sweet version of adobo and folks call it Humba!. There are some explanations why the dish is named as such. Some would believe that it came from the phrase “HUMot nga BAboy." Humot is a Visayan word which means “fragrant” or “sweet smelling” as the dish produces a delicious sweet smell while being cooked due to the addition of some aromatics such as star anise. On the other hand, the word“baboy” means pork. Other version would say that it was derived from “HUMok nga BAboy”, humok being a Visayan term for “tender” as it describes the long cooking process that makes the pork really soft and fork-tender.

Humba is a Filipino dish that resembles the Chinese hong-ba.
As mentioned, pork humba is cooked the same way as adobo with the addition of other ingredients that make the dish distinct such as brown sugar, salted black beans, saba banana, banana blossoms, star anise and other aromatics. Pork belly, ham and hocks are the three meat parts most commonly used in preparing this delicious dish. Other variation adds pineapple or even carbonated drinks, like coke or sprite instead of sugar in order to sweeten the dish. Also, humba resembles the Chinese hong-ba, a Fujian dish made from stewed pork belly and usually paired with cua pao (steamed dough similar to siopao). Humba and hong-ba are similar in terms of taste, recipe and preparation.

"HUmok nga BAboy" is a Visayan phrase which means "tender pork meat".
Pork humba is considered as a Visayan comfort dish and a common table fare during special occasions in the region. Not everyday that I get the chance to cook this dish but I always fall in love to the savory, sweet and sour twist of the lip-smacking pork meat that is made fork-tender and melt-in-the-mouth by the traditional slow-cooking process. Come, try this dish and let me know how it turns out.
Pork Humba (Visayan Pork Adobo)
Number of Servings: 2 to 3

  • 1 lb. pork belly, sliced into adobo cube cuts
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsps. oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsps. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsps. calamansi juice
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • 1 cup cola or sprite
  • 1 tsp. coarsely ground pepper
  • 5 pcs. star anise
  • 3 pcs. dahon ng laurel (bay leaves)
  • a pinch of oregano powder
  • a pinch of thyme powder
  • ½ cup tausi (salted black beans)
  • 3 pcs. saba banana (cardaba), sliced crosswise into three
  • 1 cup water or as needed
  • ½ tbsp. (or to taste) brown sugar or muscovado
  • salt to taste
  • cooking oil

  1. In a bowl, marinate the pork in the mixture of calamansi juice, soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar. Soak the meat for about 30 minutes.
  2. In a heavy-bottomed pan, put the pork including the marinade sauce. Add water just enough to cover the pork. Drop the star anise and bay leaves.
  3. Bring to a rolling boil and then reduce to simmer. Slow cook the pork for about 1 hour or until the meat is really tender and the sauce is reduced to half and rendering fat. Add more water as necessary. Drain the meat and set aside the sauce.
  4. In a separate large saucepan, heat the cooking and saute garlic and onion. Add the pork pieces and stir fry for about 5 minutes. Pour the set aside sauce and then add tausi, saba banana and cola or sprite. Continue to simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  5. Pour vinegar, do not stir. Add the banana blossoms. Adjust the seasoning. Serve with rice. Enjoy!

  1. You may add rice water to enrich the flavor.
  2. You may try adding other ingredients such as herbs, mushrooms, potatoes, carrots, hardboiled eggs, oyster sauce, chilies and dried shrimps depending on your preference.

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  1. I will experiment on this dish for sure. Can I substitute pork with chicken instead? Which part of chicken can you recommend would be the best?

    1. Yes, you can try it with chicken thigh or breast. Let me know when you try the dish and if it turns out well. :)

  2. Made this for dinner for my husband and he loved it! Cooking filipino dishes is a little challenging because he has a high standard (american) but this one nailed it! Secured my position as the best cook in our kitchen. Thank you very much!!

  3. I started out with a huge pork butt in a pressure cooker and then found your recipe. Took the meat out and cut it into chunks and then put it into a wok. Did not have the saba banana but was okay with the remaining ingredients. Used 1 cup of liquid from juice in pressure cooker instead of water, cooked it down til nearly all liquid was gone and meat was beginning to "crisp". I have to tell you, this was one dynamite recipe. Everyone is looking forward to a repeat performance. Many thanks for sharing!!

    1. Use banana blossom a pkg or 2. Found in your local Asian market. Add as the last ingredient.

  4. I tried this recipe and it was good. the flavor gets better when the pork was marinated overnight then braised the next day. I braised it in the oven, very slow cook then finished it in the wok. It was a hit, my friends still talked about it.

    1. That's wonderful! Thanks for stopping by.. I am glad you liked the recipe.

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  6. I’m pretty sure you description is misleading for Adobo because in it’s infinite versions is not Humba or Fujian Hong Ba/ Hong Ma. Or as more commonly know as its Shanghai name Hong Shao Rou/ braised red pork. OR it’s Vietnamese version Carmel pork I’m pretty sure Adobo in its infinite versions sugar and oyster sauce are more indicitive of its Chinese origin. But as Chinese cuisine is obviously an influence in Filipino cuisine from Pancit, Lumpia, satanghon, Siopao/char sui bao these origins all at best now adapted to be these foods we all enjoy Sam Filipino! Thanks for the recipe but my Visayan Family always called Humba..Humba and Adobo..Adobo..and as close as they really are not the same dish. Much respect for your blog.but JMO

  7. Very nice cooking and i love philippines dishes

  8. Where do the oregano and thyme come in? In "adjust seasoning" at the end?


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