Humba (braised pork belly) humba (braised pork belly)

*UPDATE: Click here for a better recipe for humba and how to serve it as cua pao.

A classic Filipino pork dish, the traditional way of cooking humba is to slowly simmer a whole slab of pork belly in a mixture of tausi (salted black beans), vinegar, dark brown sugar, garlic, onions, peppercorns and oregano. The more elegant way of cooking humba is to grill the pork belly first until the rind is all crisp and puffy and then braise it in the usual mixture of herbs and spices. The cooked humba acquires the texture of pata tim–the rind is chewy and the meat is very, very tender.

Humba was today’s lunch. A very late lunch, actually, because we had breakfast at around 11.00 a.m. I didn’t start cooking lunch until around 1.00 p.m. and we finally ate at around 3.00.

A lot of people stay away from pork belly, or liempo in Filipino parlance, because of the amount of fat in it. Good quality pork belly is not that fatty. The slab of pork belly I cooked today had about 1/8″ of fat between the rind and the skin and most of that melted off when I grilled the meat in the oven. So, just choose your pork belly well and you won’t have to worry too much about ingesting all that fat.

Click here for a better recipe for humba and how to serve it as cua pao.

Ingredients :

1 kilo of uncut pork belly
4 tbsps. of vinegar
6 tbsps. of dark brown sugar
1 whole garlic
1 whole onion
1 laurel leaf
20 peppercorns
a bunch of dried oregano (available in the spice section of supermarkets and vegetable stalls in wet markets)
2 heaping tbsps. of undrained tausi (canned tausi is available in supermarkets)
meat broth or water
chopped cilantro for garnish (optional, but recommended)

Cooking procedure :

Lay the pork belly on a chopping board. With a sharp knife, make incisions about half an inch deep on the rind, running the entire width of the pork belly about half an inch apart. Place the pork belly on a baking dish, skin side up, and grill in a very hot oven (200oC) for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the rind is very well browned, puffed and crisp.

Place the pork belly in a cooking pan. Pour enough broth (or water) to reach about 3/4 of its height. Add the whole garlic, whole onion, peppercorns, tausi, oregano, vinegar, sugar and laurel leaf. Cover tightly and simmer for an hour to an hour and a half. Add more broth or water if the liquid dries up before the pork is thoroughly cooked.

Transfer the pork to a chopping board and cut through the incisions. Arrange on a serving platter. Strain the sauce and pour over the pork. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Serve hot.

[tags]pork+recipe, meat+recipe, filipino+recipe, cooking, food, recipe[/tags]


  1. says

    i just discovered this site thru pinoyexchange today. needless to say i’m all over the site! i’m just hopeless in the kitchen. my mom used to say you can’t learn by reading. that because all i do is read recipes, stories about recipes and oggle at pictures of food!
    i remember humba as the ultimate “tira” from weddings back in the province. it gets yummier each day. i dont know if its the same humba though, because our version has pineapples with it!

  2. says

    your mom is right. cooking is a hands-on thing. but reading cookbooks and food articles, and watching cooking shows, are a start. after that, it’s all a matter of applying what you learned. no one’s hopeless in the kitchen, april. :)

  3. says

    Sha, know what… it tastes 10 times better after reheating. After dinner, there was very little sauce left, so the following day, I diced the pork then pan fried them in a tablespoon of oil and I packed them for the kids’ school lunch. Syempre, tinikman ko muna. Shucks, it was so much better! I’m not tempting you ha… hehehehe

  4. Omar says

    Hi Connie,
    Am a fan of your site and have hosted dinners using several of your recipes. They’ve proven to be hits. Of course I tell my friends that I get the recipes from your site.

    Am hosting dinner this Saturday and planning to make Humba. What other dishes go with Humba? Am planning a selection of 3 mains.



  5. Louie says

    This is a good recipe for that pot luck lunch I’m going to next month! (Along with that Java Rice too.)

    But, again, I have to ask: If I’m going to cook 5 kilos of pork belly (that’s good for 20 pipol, right?), does it mean I have to put in 5 whole garlic, 5 whole onions, 5 laurel leaves, etc?

    Thanks again!

  6. says

    Ummmm no not necessarily… you can do with 2 garlics and maybe 3 onions and only 2 laurel leaves. It really depends on 1) how the pork is cut 2) how much additional liquid you will use. The amount of liquid depends on the shape of your cooking pan (wide and shallow or tall and deep?). Maybe the better way to do it is to start with less rather than more.

  7. Louie says

    Wow, thanks very much, Connie! My confidence in cooking is growing every day. Before, I really can’t decently boil an egg even if you put a gun on my head.

    BTW, I hope you got over that nasty bug. Bummer in this kind of weather.

  8. dalandan soda says

    tried this recipe using a crockpot last week. skipped the baking part, i don’t have an oven. but still, the result was still very delicious. i added some hard-boiled eggs. it is one of the best recipes that i have ever tried to cook. thanks connie

  9. cooking boy says

    where the hell did you get the background of this recipe?

    pork humba in not a traditional filipino recipe

    its a chinese recipe that filipino got accustomed to

  10. Janet says

    That’s one hell of an answer Connie! Quite funny :P

    I cant stay away from your recipe, I check it everyday. I will try this recipe & yung oven roasted pata. Forget about the cholesterol, bihira naman kainin ganyan na pag kain eh (kunwari! hehehe)

  11. Jonas says

    Hello. i was searching for a site where i can learn how to cook filipino cuisine. it is because my friends and i are taking turns in cooking. i dont know anything about cooking since i am very dependent with mother when i was still in the philippines. now that im working abroad, must find way to learn how to cook. anyways, i will try to cook and by the way, this site will definitely help me. THANK YOU

  12. Reynordud Narciso says

    Im looking for an ingredient for making of chorizo, maybe this is the way and very helpfull that i can make an extra income.hope you send me..thankz

  13. Abby says

    I stumbled across your site by accident and what a great accident it was. Thank you for not being madamot with your recipes… my son loves the baon I prepare for him. Needless to say, breakfast, lunch and dinner is always a feast! Cheers to you!

  14. Ai says

    if i don’t have tausi in my area what is the other alternatives? by the way, thanking u so much for your recipe really helps me now that I just got married and a new mom.

  15. piolo says

    hi, nice recipe, very informative and delicious… humba is one of my favourites, but had to cook it only for special occasions because of the calories :D anyway, i tasted a humba in which anise and banana blossoms was used instead of tausi and oregano… it was delicious! does anyone have a recipe of this, ‘coz i tried to replicate the dish but somehow it didn’t quite make it ;)

    Ai, i believe there’s canned tausi in most groceries, or if not in a specialty store which sells chinese stuff, maybe you can find some :D

  16. says

    Raph, I’m sure it will. I think that dried oregano is specified in the traditional recipe only because Filipino cooking was never really big on spices and we’re more acquainted with the dried kind. Or, perhaps, it’s the heat. We’ve gotten used to dried spices because they can be stored longer than fresh ones.

  17. at0y says

    Connie, im somewhat confused on broth making cuz it says that “head garlic” is that meas the whole garlic? s it peeled or unpeeled?thanks!!

  18. says

    Yes, a head of garlic means whole garlic. A segment is a clove. No need to peel because you’re going to discard it anyway after cooking.

  19. van says

    just wondering, i dnt really know how to cook, like zero cooking ability. Whole garlic and whole onion, did u mean not to slice them just put the whole onion and garlic???

  20. van says

    i couldnt find pork belly in my place, m in a small town in the U.s. ive asked some local stores like safe way, but they dont have it. I ended up buying porkchops coz it has fat on its rim. can i use that and i do use it, do i still need to grill it in the oven?

  21. says

    Yes, whole garlic and onion. You’re going to remove them before serving so you really just want the flavors to get into the meat and sauce.

    You can cook humba in a pot, Van. I just opted to cook it in the oven to make the pork rind crisp.

  22. michelle says

    hi, connie!

    i’m a fan of you. thanks for your site it’s really a help for me. i’ve learn a lot in your site. though i’m not yet cooking, i’m eager already to try and experiment to cook one of your recipe. but i have a problem, i want to try to cook humba, but i don’t have tausi to use. what would you think is the other option i can use? thank you. michelle learning………….

  23. says

    There’s really no substitute for tausi but they’re quite easy to find. In the wet markets, most vegetable stalls sells them for as little as P5. In the supermarket, you can get them in cans.

  24. Rosalia de la Cruz says


    I’m curious… Most humba recipes I’ve seen online or in cookbooks have soy sauce, but yours doesn’t. Is soy sauce really dispensable? If I cook humba without soy sauce, will I need to add salt?

    Hope you can reply.


  25. says

    Lia, a Westernized recipes substitute soy sauce for the salted black beans either because they are not aware of what it is or it is unavailable. That might explain why you see more soy sauce than black beans in humba recipes. Salted black beans are soya beans, super salty, and that’s why in most recipes, washing them prior to use is recommended. There really is no need to add salt if you use a sufficient amount of black beans.

  26. Rosalia de la Cruz says

    Thank you, Connie.

    By the way, have you tried cooking humba in a slow cooker? Would you recommend it?

    Let me thank you, too, for the rest of this site which I’ve visited often enough for recipes. A few times, I’ve looked in my ref, thought of how I could an ingredient to a dish, searched your site, and -voila!- found a recipe just for what I had :)

    An amateur cook like me living too far for my mom to be a phone call away is indeed grateful to have your site just a click away. — lia

  27. says

    Hi Ms. Connie :)

    My mom (and the people in her family) cooks humba differently. I believe they put banana flowers and banana in it. Also, they prefer using the pig head for it. Very yummy. And very distinct taste. Have you tried something similar?

  28. carmen factora says

    to van,

    a friend of mine makes humba with ham hocks (fresh, not cured). it looks like a small pata. tausi not available in small town, PA, so she used toyo and the rest of Connie’s recipe. very, very good…

  29. mona says

    Hi Ms. Connie. I just tried your Humba and OMG, my 8yr old son can’t stop asking for more!! Thank u, thank u soooo much for sharing your recipe. Now im in the kitchen again…this time for the chicken katsu & southern fried!!!

  30. Makombe says

    I was surprised to know that the word Humba refers to a pork dish in the Philipines. Here in Zimbabwe Humba refers to a pig (swine).Its actually a “tortem” of the Makombe people who originated from Barwe in Mozambique.

  31. Mike says

    Hi there. I was just wondering, did you know that humba is of Chinese origin? That being said, I’ve noticed that so many recipes online call for oregano in their humba or pata tim. Oregano is not a spice used in chinese cuisine, and was wondering if anyone has ever tried it without the oregano? Funny, when my Lola (half Chinese/bisaya) made humba I asked if she was going to put oregano and she claimed that it is not an ingredient of the original humba. I much prefer it without the oregano. Anyway, no offense to anyone’s recipe, I was just curious to see if anyone else has skipped the oregano as well. Happy cooking!

    • says

      Hi Mike. There is a link for a more recent version of humba… In that post, I mentioned that humba is a local adaptation of the Chinese hong ma. So, if you want the Chinese version, I think you should search for hong ma. Humba is already Filipinized.

      Filipinos cook Filipino humba; the Chinese cook the Chinese hong ma. Funny to expect a local adaptation to stay exactly the same as the original. That’s like expecting Filipino adobo to be exactly like Mexican adobo after which it was named.

  32. Christine says

    Oops, sorry. I accidentally hit the post button before I was done…Another keeper recipe! I made this for lunch today and my Boholano husband absolutely loved it. He said it tasted very authentic, just like the humba they had back home. I used pork hocks and belly, crisped the skin in a turbo broiler and used a crock pot to cook it. This is the first recipe I ever tried where I did not have to cut the onion or garlic. That was very convenient.

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