Photo by Meljane Petiluna.

Humba is a Filipino braised pork dish which traditionally uses pork belly slow-cooked in soy sauce, vinegar, black peppercorns, garlic, bay leaves, and fermented black beans (tausi)  sweetened with muscovado sugar.

Its close in taste and look to another Filipino favorite dish, adobo, except humba uses a lot more vinegar, which gives it a little bit more of a tangy flavor. It’s the tausi that gives humba a more distinct taste, without which it is basically just a slightly sweeter adobo.

The intense saltiness of the tausi complements the pork well. All told, humba is equal parts sweet, sour, and salty. Humba also commonly includes hard-boiled eggs and banana blossoms, which add more layers of flavors.

Photo by Archer Casio.

While Humba is often referred to as the “Visayan version of adobo,” because it traces its roots from the region, this isn’t entirely accurate. Humba is a specific dish (usually restricted to pork belly) as opposed to adobo, which is more of a cooking process that can be used to cook pork, vegetables, or even chicken.

Some variations of humba include pineapples as added sweetener, in which case, the dish becomes similar in taste to another Pinoy favorite, the hamonado.

Because there’s lots of vinegar in humba, the dish lasts for a long time, perfect to bring to travel especially on long drives. In the olden times, the dish is cooked for hours in low fire in a clay pot. Once cool, it is covered with a loin cloth and then buried (which allows the meat to absorb flavors of the ingredients) to be eaten when needed most.

Photo by Jonathan Donal.

In the Philippines, cooking humba is both an everyday occurrence and something for special occasions. It is so prevalent that humba is often sold even in karinderya or turo-turo in the metro.

And like any Filipino dish, never skip the rice when eating humba. The rice provides a more neutral taste, which balances off the strong flavor of the favorite Filipino dish.