Humba or Umba is the Visayan answer to adobo from the Northâ€¦or is it? Although I was born in Cebu and lived there until the ripe old age of 2, I donâ€™t really recall eating too much humba in my childhood years or even as an adult. Humba recipes vary from household to household but it does seem to be incredibly close to some Chinese treatment for pork, as in pata tim, or slow braised pork with soy and star anise. I have never made humba before, though our cook makes it occasionally for the crew and it rarely makes it to the dining tableâ€¦ we tend to get adobo instead. I set out to find a nice recipe and ended up using ingredients and methods from several different sources. I was initially perturbed by the amount of sugar in this preparation, but the results were delicious. There are two rough versions of thisâ€¦one that is more strongly influenced by Chinese cookery and one that has evolved into a more â€œcommonâ€ way of preparing it. Here is the recipe I made, and I would definitely make it againâ€¦
Take about a kilo or more of pork liempo or pata; fatty is good. Heat up a nice heavy casserole or dutch oven and put your cubed or cut up meat (unless you use whole pata) into the pan and let it sweat and caramelize a bit. Once it is seared on all sides, add about 8 cloves of garlic, smashed and about 2-3 tablespoons of bottled black beans (tausi). Stir briskly. Add about Â¼ cup of Shaoxing rice wine (I didnâ€™t have any more so I skipped this ingredient, which would dampen sweetness a bit). Add about Â¼ to 1/3 cup of cane or white vinegar. Chop up about Â½ to Â¾ of a block of panocha (palm sugar) and add it to the pot. Add 2 star anise or if really fresh and potent, one star anise may be enough. Add about 3-4 tablespoons of Kikkoman soy sauce and about a cup or more of water and let this simmer gently until the pork is soft, about 1-1.5 hours. Watch the liquid levels and add some water if necessary. Meanwhile, take some dried Chinese black mushrooms and reconstitute them in warm water. Chop them up and add to the humba once the meat is soft. Also add about a cup or so of the banana blossoms and cook a few minutes more. Stir and add lots of ground black pepper. Serve hot with lots of rice. I served this with a really sour, made from scratch, sinigang and the sweetness of the humba and the sharpness of the soup made for a great meal! Many localized versions call for the black beans but instead of panocha rely on a few tablespoons of brown sugar and they typically omit the chinese wine… Overall, it is an appetizing dish…the burnished dark brown and almost reddish color plus the softness of the pork and the textures of the mushrooms and banana blossoms and the intensity of the braising liquid make this a memorable dish!