Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Humba (Braised Pork in Black Bean Sauce)

Copyright 2011LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Humba is a twist on the national dish (Adobo) with the addition of a few extra ingredients, most notably, banana flower blossoms and salted black beans. My version is a bit on the simple side from a cookbook I bought from home before going to the US in 1997. I have seldom used this book due to the fact that I know most of the recipes by heart. Anyway, I never learned of this dish until I was in Manila during my college years. It was one of the few things I love to buy for lunch at the cafeteria. I have read some blog posts stating that this dish is popular in the central and southern part of the Philippines but being from the central side, this must be a mistake. I always thought this was a very northern dish typically served in buffet restaurants in Manila. I do recall my Mom making something with salted black beans and pork but it bears little similarity to this dish. That or maybe we were just very simple folks with simple appetites. 

Copyright 2011 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
I made this dish on a Sunday and while I know where to buy canned black beans in our little town above the mountains, they were closed early Sunday. Stumped, I decided to use regular black beans which I had in stock and boiled them without adding any salt. It is really the healthier version if you cook Humba this way since you eliminate a lot of salt from the canned beans that you add to flavor the dish. By the way, Market Manila has an excellent version of this dish with star anise and Chinese mushrooms to boot. However, I felt that a simple and basic dish is a good start and if you folks want to expand on the taste, I say go for it and try the more fancy version. Either way, it's all good. Just a word regarding the banana flower blossom: it has a slight bitter taste which the sweet sauce balances out. You can add them early on right after adding the pork and the bitter taste will be neutralized during the simmering step.     

Humba - Adapted*

2 1/2 lbs pork (pork belly in the traditional recipe)
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup vinegar
3 tbsp dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp oregano
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup cooked black beans
salt and pepper
1 cup water
2 oz banana flower blossoms (optional)
2 tbsp canola oil

1. In a deep pot over medium heat, add the oil and saute the garlic until 
    softened. Add the bay leaves and oregano and saute for a minute. 

2. Add the pork and saute until slightly browned. Season with salt and 

3. Add the water, soy sauce and vinegar and bring to a boil. Lower the heat 
    and bring to a simmer while covered for 1 hour.

4. Add the sugar and the banana blossom and increase the heat to medium. 
    Cook uncovered for another 30 minutes to thicken the sauce. Add the 
    black beans and cook for another 5 minutes. Check for flavor and adjust 
    accordingly. Serve with steamed white rice. 

*Laquian. E., Sobriveñas, Filipino Cooking Here and Abroad, National Bookstores Inc., Manila: 1977.

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