29 Jan2013


When it’s Fiesta time in little towns across the island of Cebu, someone inevitably is tasked with cooking up a really big batch of humba, a sticky sweet version of adobo most people think, but really more likely a variation on the Chinese dish that has a similar name… whatever its origins, it is a mainstay of festive celebrations and this version is a true bulk fiesta humba, not a home kitchen snazzy version, posted here many years ago.


To make cut up bone-in pieces of pork, in this case pata or shank. Brown this in some oil, preferably lard. Then in a large pan, saute chopped garlic, onion, green onions and black beans. Add the pork, and depending on volume, say 3-4 kilos worth of pork, add two family size bottles of Sprite or 7Up. I kid you not. :) No water. Just the soda. Then add soy sauce bay leaves and let this simmer until the pork is tender. Some folks add a touch of five spice or star anise, others throw in dried banana blossoms.


I was shocked by the amount of 7Up, but figured the soda helped to tenderize the meat, and the sugar took the place of granulated sugar or palm sugar. One of our commissary chefs, Tito, can make this blindfolded and in quantities that could feed several barangays worth of people… He also adds some vinegar to temper the sweetness of the dish. Let this simmer until thick and sticky and the meat is extremely tender. Season with salt and pepper as necessary.


Cooking time can vary, from say 1.5-3.0 hours, depending on the pork used. Add a bit of water if it is starting to get too thick. Watch closely in the later stages of cooking because as the sauce thickens, as it could start to stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.


The results were predictably sweet, but surprisingly hearty and satisfying. We served this over steamed corn grits or mais. :)



  1. kaye says:

    looks so yummy. we call this estofado in zambales, and my mom prefers to make this with 7-up :-) she says it makes it sweter :-)

    Jan 29, 2013 | 6:40 am


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  3. Gerry T says:

    I’ve been salivating for this for a while but haven’t cooked it in ages ….In Bohol Fiesta this is one of the staples year after year in my inlaws ;aunties homes ……its actually better the next day if ever there’s one …Tom. that’s part of my menu …
    TY MM! :)

    Jan 29, 2013 | 6:59 am

  4. Connie C says:

    My mom would add fermented bean curd or tahure , cooked the humba in large batches and kept in a large clay pot in the fridge a few days before the town fiesta.

    Jan 29, 2013 | 7:26 am

  5. pixienixie says:

    I am reminded of estofado, what with the choice of meat – pork pata – and the usage of soy sauce, bay leaves, banana blossoms, sweetening agent, and vinegar. But then again, perhaps I’m mistaken. How are the two different from each other? Is it just the inclusion of black beans? I reckon that will change the flavor of the dish entirely…..

    When I was in university one of the stalls in the cafeteria beside our college cooked “humba”, but it looked different from the one here. The sauce was thinner, and hard-boiled chicken eggs were included….

    Jan 29, 2013 | 7:44 am

  6. Footloose says:

    Paksew na pata, humba and estofado all share practically the same elements that they seem just slight variations of the same dish. I like them all and cook them often, perhaps too frequently for my own good, while observing the distinctions that set them apart from each other which for others might entail the use of Venn diagrams to untangle.

    Jan 29, 2013 | 8:41 am

  7. odessa says:

    back in the days my papa is the one tasked to cook this during fiesta and we all love it. but ours MM are big chunks of pork and sometimes the entire pata. It still taste great especially the day after…:)

    Jan 29, 2013 | 8:46 am

  8. gayedg says:

    The version of estofado that my grandma cooks (she lives in Mendez Cavite) has pineapple juice, catsup (must be UFC Banana Catsup), tomato sauce, soy sauce, bell pepper, onion, garlic and pepper. It’s really good especially when pata is used and it gets better and better the more you reheat it. Perfectly paired with steaming rice and dipping sauce of kalamansi, patis and sili. Sarap!

    Jan 29, 2013 | 9:09 am

  9. millet says:

    “Let this simmer until, thick and sticky”…and let me add..until the fat quivers at the slightest movement of the serving bowl or table. we had this for dinner last night. i’ve never tried doing this with 7-up, but am definitely trying soon!

    Jan 29, 2013 | 9:57 am

  10. EbbaBlue says:

    I have not tried this with 7-Up, but with Dr. Pepper. Came out good too. I also tried this on a half-whole turkey…ubos talaga siya. Pati mga amerkanong “marines” na bisita ko, kain din sila.

    Jan 29, 2013 | 1:13 pm

  11. kittel says:

    and i was just craving for some boholano humba…sigh…

    Jan 29, 2013 | 2:30 pm

  12. terrey says:

    yes, humba is best eaten with mais…pakapinan pa ug piniritong buwad. ah, heaven! :)

    Jan 29, 2013 | 2:38 pm

  13. rhea says:

    my uncle in Bohol adds hard-boiled eggs… I first tasted this when I was in Cebu reviewing for the board exams. Now whenever I go home to Bohol, I ask my uncle to cook this. Sarap!

    Jan 29, 2013 | 3:11 pm

  14. Betchay says:

    I do agree with Footloose…all are basically the same using the adobo triad of garlic, vinegar and soy sauce. They become distinct with the additions like in our home it becomes:
    paksiw na pata – with the addition of banana blossoms, oregano, sugar
    estofado- with the addition of fried saba
    humba or mock pata tim- with star anise and cloves
    hamonada- with pineapple juice/brown sugar
    But I’ve never tried cooking it with Soda pop like 7-up or Dr. Pepper…I should experiment soon

    Jan 29, 2013 | 5:37 pm

  15. kakesandkandles says:

    Made this two days ago and packed it ( with a LOT of rice) for lunch today. But, after reading all the posts so far, my version sits between estofado and humba. I guess it just goes to show family influence. Sometimes I put hard boiled eggs too. I picked that up from an in-law from Thailand. I need to try the 7UP version with the banana blossom and fried saba? Maybe not all together………..:) hmmmmmmmmmmm?

    Jan 30, 2013 | 12:01 am

  16. kristin says:

    heaven! those quivering white fat…hmmmm…gutum napud ko :)

    Jan 30, 2013 | 12:02 am

  17. betty q. says:

    Betchay…try it with Coke Classic. I also add a sachet of ready made spices which I always have in the pantry for tea eggs!

    Jan 30, 2013 | 12:22 am

  18. betty q. says:

    For those in the Middle East where pork is difficult to access, this is doable using chicken thighs. I have done it using Coke Classic and Chinese spices wrapped up in cacha.

    Jan 30, 2013 | 12:35 am

  19. EbbaBlue says:

    BettyQ, I just saw left over Coke Classic in our office-cafe (a give away), and I have some pata at home.. hahahah, I will try this tonite; but wait I got two huge ulo ng salmon ready to be cook for paksiw with talong. Ano kaya at ito na lang ulo ang gawin kong ganito? Pwede rin kaya?

    Jan 30, 2013 | 4:57 am

  20. PITS, MANILA says:

    thanks, must try this and soon!

    Jan 30, 2013 | 6:27 am

  21. betty q. says:

    Ebba…if I were you, I would cook both…the salmon head for tonight (nandiyn na ko kung kapitbahay kita). The pata …mas masarap bukas kainin nd para hindi ka na magluluto bukas!

    Jan 30, 2013 | 6:54 am

  22. Footloose says:

    @Bechay, I once made the same sweeping generalization at another foodblog and was set right by the blogger herself. She claimed the distinctions are set and well demarcated in Kapampangan cooking. Paksew pata is sour, humba is salty while Estofado is sweet. So Pixienixie put her finger on it with tausi in humba.

    Tried just recently a dish that scales down the aromatics of humba called Dong Po Rou that calls for pork belly, rice wine, soya sauce and rock sugar slow cooked on a bed of green onions and ginger. I expected it to come out close to our humba or paksew pata but surprise surprise, it turned out to be quite another dish altogether though still managing to look similar. And yes, the pulsation in the fatty pieces when disturbed is compulsory on this too.

    Jan 30, 2013 | 7:05 am

  23. Ted says:

    I often cook humba when we get left over crispy pata, and I use rootbeer as the sweetening agent/liquid. I also add chinese cabbage to it.

    I should try this 7-up recipe in making my paksiw na pata instead of water,brown sugar, great idea.

    Jan 30, 2013 | 7:55 am

  24. pixienixie says:

    @footloose: coincidentally, I’m Kapampangan. Don’t really know how that is related with the fact that you were set right by a blogger, citing Kapampangan cuisine, though…hehe

    In our family, estofado and paksiw na pata look alike, and the elements are almost the same except for the fact that – as you said – paksiw is sour while estofado is sweet.

    Jan 30, 2013 | 9:27 am

  25. betty q. says:

    Footloose….any leftovers of your braised pork belly makes a nice filling for man tou buns.

    Jan 30, 2013 | 9:27 am

  26. Footloose says:

    @BettyQ, great minds think alike…I have been experimenting on the cracking up bao dough lately although my first attempts are still kind of shy.

    Jan 30, 2013 | 10:05 am

  27. betty q. says:

    Yeah, Footloose! I am going to get a head start for Super Bowl week-end and make the steamed buns the next few days…will have a Pork Belly bun table instead of the usual wing table….different fillings…Korean inspired: pork or beef bulgogi or kalbi strips, Asian slaw and with spicy mayo made with kochujang, and a little sesame ginger dressing…Japanese inspired: boneless chicken thigh made into teriyaki or lemongrass chicken with Vietnamese slaw…barbecued duck or braised beef shank….

    I am totally getting carried away again!

    Jan 30, 2013 | 11:10 am

  28. joey @ 80 breakfasts says:

    This looks amazing! I love humba and all such sweet/savory pork dishes…must try this soon. In a smaller batch of course…not just because I have a small family but because I will no doubt eat too much!! The hubs doesn’t drink pop though so will have to keep that a secret…heehee ;)

    Jan 30, 2013 | 11:12 am

  29. robin castagna says:

    My mom cooks this with slabs of liempo, adobo style with star anise. Slice the fork-tender meat with the melt-like-butter fat– Saraaap!!

    Jan 30, 2013 | 12:27 pm

  30. lee says:

    I remember watching humba being cooked at a Fiesta in Bais City where pork cubes were boiled in a kerosene can until fat is rendered and the process repeated for a few hours until the remaining pieces are so soft and tender that you can cut them just by staring at them. After two or three days of pork induced madness we foraged for sea creatures at dusk and had the most amazing stew made up of a everything we caught.

    Jan 30, 2013 | 6:39 pm

  31. Nina says:

    Lee, hahaha, loved how you describe it … you can cut them just by staring at them. Footloose, Betchay, and pixienixie – thanks very much for identifying the differences among humba, paksiw, and estofado. We had a similar conversation about these differences during one of our monthly foodie gtg and your feedbacks were the best. Yes, betty q., the cua pao is very good with left-over humba, same with other left-overs i.e., asado, chinese bbq, roasted pork belly. Footloose, in the past, I also experimented with the bao dough (is this the same as the cua pao bun?). Anyways, try steamykitchen.com, the blogger (an asian), has tons of information; but the best was the shortcut on how to make a cua pao bun which I also use for making steamed siopao. Super, super easy!

    Jan 30, 2013 | 10:30 pm

  32. betty q. says:

    Footloose…Iyour dough made with all purpose flour and yeast, right? It turns like pale creamy white? Next batch, try it with cake flour plus a bit of yeast. After rising, a touch o baking powder added to the risen dough. A long time ago maybe about 20 years ago, a Chinese friend from up North showed me a few tricks about dim sum char siu boas. Their family from Hong Kong owned a restirant there in Hong Kong. What struck me is she used cakeflour plus the 2leavening gents nd the color was white….different from the sio pao I am used to. That was the last time I made it for the process was too time consumming. However I have all the time on the world now and will try my hand at making it today. If it turns out the way as I remember it, I will let you know if that is what you are after.

    Jan 30, 2013 | 11:20 pm

  33. netoy says:

    @MM or BettyQ – can this be cooked using a slow cooker? Is tausi the equivalent of black beans? Thanks much.

    Jan 30, 2013 | 11:28 pm

  34. Footloose says:

    From the LA Times (that’s el ay times unlike Rose’s la law) link I shared here last year, I think I have mastered the normal bao using our Five Roses white. For smiling bao though, you’re right in that it entails an initial starter, a preliminary dough and a final one. Would like to hear further from you (BettyQ) about this and thank you Nina for the heads up, I might have been following the same link. But you know, no matter how detailed the recipes floating in the net may be, what it ultimately boils down to is how to tweak it in order to get an acceptable result using local flour and ingredients.

    Lee are you suggesting that one can arrive at that point of quivering tenderness without using an imported thick bottomed enamel coated cast iron Dutch oven with self-basting cover that’s specifically designed for long slow cooking? Actually, we use a piece of impromptu sawali, you know, woven bamboo strips, to line the bottom of whatever vessel we are using to prevent scorching of the precious cargo.

    Jan 31, 2013 | 12:10 am

  35. Thelma says:

    i love this dish. thanks for the recipe!

    Jan 31, 2013 | 12:58 am

  36. Nina says:

    Sawali? That’s pure genius, Footloose. Where do you get sawali in North America? But what if the dish has sauce, will the sawali float? You might want to check again the above-mentioned site and experiment… the shortcut tip and the resulting cua pao was as good as the ones I had at Momofuku and NYC Chinatown, if not better.

    Jan 31, 2013 | 1:31 am

  37. betty q. says:

    Footloose, Nina…I know the word sawali for I have heard my mom use it as I was growing up but cannot for the life of me picture it now. If it is bamboo strips, maybe the Japanese sushi mat will work….oven casserole dish lined with sushi mat and slow cooked in the oven?

    Jan 31, 2013 | 3:50 am

  38. enna says:

    Lami ang humba parisan ug no.14 nga mais….heaven…

    Jan 31, 2013 | 6:01 am

  39. lee says:

    I was at the grocery the other day and I think they used The large, rectangular “Minola” oil cans and not kerosene :) @Footloose I’m not sure if they had something at the bottom of the can.

    Jan 31, 2013 | 10:40 am

  40. EbbaBlue says:

    Sarap ng usapa, sad naman ako, kasi mayrong ng uminom nung Coke classic na gagamitin ko sana. And I am at home, no car, wala akong liquid to do some experimenting. Nakain ko na rin yung saba kasi nag-hinog na.

    Meron ako, chinese wine… ummm ewan ko. Yung ulo ng salmon, frozen pa, but I got “deep fried” pork belly, naka-balot pa sa ref. Ibuhos ko na lang kaya yung Korean Marinade/Dressing na nabili ko. I tried it before, para siya lang lasa na Hoisin/Oyster. Ummmm….Throw it all sa crockpot, and then continue na akong manuod ng Pinoy telenovela. (shhhhh…Temptation of Wife). Tutal pinayagan na ako ng boss ko na mag-work from home, kasi today’s low temperature might shock my new meds na naka-kabit pa sakin, and I am a little queezy.

    Jan 31, 2013 | 9:23 pm

  41. Faust says:

    gotta watch the fat intake, medications please… ^_^

    Feb 1, 2013 | 12:31 pm

  42. Avic says:

    Hi MM, would you know where in Manila I can I buy bigas mais? I miss eating those. Will definitely try that humba recipe. :) Thanks!

    Feb 1, 2013 | 5:15 pm

  43. MlleD says:

    I dont remember my mother browning it when she made them during fiestas. She would just put all the ingredients mentioned in a big pot perched on an equally big clay stove over low heat using wood fire (I believe the term used was “inanay”). This was not made in the kitchen either. This was always done in the yard grounds and with lots of monitoring! Not very ergonomic to the lower back, but hey, ergonomics does not apply to humba!

    Feb 3, 2013 | 1:26 am

  44. Betchay says:

    @Footloose: I hand in to the Kapampangan….that was a very good distinction!

    Feb 3, 2013 | 9:58 am

  45. Jess says:

    Long time fan of the site and lurker (pre Bourdain). Born in Quezon city, moved to Cebu at 5 yrs old and went back to Manila (Paranaque actually) at 15 to finish high school and eventually college. My father is ilonggo and my mother is Cebuana. IMHO my mother and grand mother are pretty good cooks… and so is my wife.hehe I like food…but I am by no means an expert like a lot of posters here. However after reading this thread I thought I just had to jump in and join the fray. I think you are right by saying humba is Cebu’s version of adobo, because there really is no adobo (that resembles the one tagalogs have) in Cebu. What’s funny though, in Cebu if you say adobo they will think (crispy) deep fried pork or chicken. I love humba. Cebuanos will eat humba with “kan-ong mais”. But…good humba has to be made of pork belly. if it is other than pork belly…it is just “inun-unan baboy”. Also in humba, the sweet, sour and saltiness has to be balanced. one shouldn’t overpower the other.

    Feb 27, 2013 | 12:37 pm

  46. Kris says:

    Thank you for posting this recipe. I have been unsuccessful with previous humba attempts. I was told that I needed “kalamay”‘for this but I don’t know where to buy that here in central CA. I can finally serve humba without my husband confirming “is this really humba ?”. Your website has been very helpful.

    Mar 7, 2014 | 1:39 am

  47. lynn says:

    sometimes we cooked it with del monte pineapple juice or four seasons if the former is not available, i also add black pepper

    Jul 18, 2014 | 8:42 am


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