Braised Pork Belly: Filipino Humba

Pork belly glazed in panocha and flavored with soy sauce, salty black beans, and star anise. I’m sure you’ll love this Filipino dish. Let’s eat!

With well-articulated entries and a down-to-earth tone that I love and adore, this amazing blog delivers a visual view of Filipino cuisine (about which many people are curious). Enjoy yourselves!

A unique dish, Humba, is served here.

It’s glazed with panocha or palm sugar and flavored with soy sauce, salty black beans, and star anise for depth of flavor in this slow-braised pork belly.

A cursory glance at the ingredients below shows that this “local” cuisine has roots well beyond our own shores, even if it has roots in Samar and Leyte.

If you look around, it appears that this braised pig belly dish, sweetened with sugar and balanced with a savory contrast of soy sauce, rice wine, or even fish sauce, can be found in most Asian culinary traditions. Shaoxing wine is used in China to flavor Dongpo Pork.

Thit Heo Kho Trung is a Vietnamese dish that includes eggs. Buta No Kakuni is traditionally served with a whiff of sake in Japan. It goes on and on.

Even in the Philippines, the preparation of Humba differs widely from household to household. Pig trotters can be used for the more commonly used pork belly when making a pork belly substitute recipe.

Other versions call for adding mushrooms, banana blossoms, rice wine, hard-boiled eggs, and even potatoes to the mix.

Cooking a traditional family recipe is what I do when I want to keep things simple. Good food never goes out of style.


  • 1.3 kg of pork belly
  • 6 cloves of minced garlic
  • 5 cups of water
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons of salted black beans
  • 1 cup of palm sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of ground black peppercorns
  • ¾ cup of white vinegar
  • ¼ cup of roasted peanuts with skin
  • ¼ cup of soy sauce


  1. A stockpot should be filled with water and pork belly, and then covered with a lid. For 10 minutes, boil the water and let the pork to par-boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the belly cool in the water for a few minutes.
  2. Start by removing the pork from the saucepan and store it in the freezer for a quick chilling process. Refrigerate any remaining liquid to be used at a later time.
  3. Combine the other ingredients in a large mixing dish. The palm sugar should be entirely dissolved, so be sure to thoroughly combine the two components before moving on. As a marinade and a braising liquid, this mixture can be used in many different ways.
  4. Remove the meat from the refrigerator and cut it into three-inch squares once it has reached a sliceable consistency. Refrigerate the pork cubes overnight in the marinade.
  5. Remove the marinated pork belly and the conserved broth around an hour or two before braising. Remove the fat layer that has developed on top of the broth by scraping it off.
  6. Place the pork belly, marinade, and broth in a heavy pot and boil. Boil the meat for at least two to three hours, or until it is fork-tender. Then, turn the heat down to a simmer and let it cook for another two to three hours.
  7. Keep an eye on the belly’s fatty tissue. When the pork begins to wiggle while braising, it is ready to be served. You can also pierce the pig with a fork, which is a more typical method.
  8. Remove the braised belly from the pot and put it aside until the pork is ready to shred. Remove the bay leaves, raise the heat on the braising liquid, and bring it to a slightly thickening consistency.


Like most braised meats, Humba keeps well in the refrigerator for many days. Keep the braised pork and sauce in the freezer in an airtight container. Reheat by steaming in a heatproof serving dish until the food is hot throughout.

To serve this dish to your guests, all you need to do is place the braised pork in a bowl and pour the reduced sauce over it. Alternately, you can follow my lead. A simple chopped salad of mango, tomatoes, and white onion pairs well with the sweet and salty tastes in my pork belly ensalandang mangga. I cut the pork belly into bite-sized pieces before carefully pouring the sauce over it.

This cuisine may not be ours to claim as our own for all we know. But Humba captures the essence of what it is to be a Pinoy: our love of intense, complex flavors, our devotion to pork, and our longing for comfort food from our homeland.

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