Taste Canada: Humba-Style Braised Pork Belly from East Meets West

Excerpted from East Meets West: Traditional and Contemporary Asian Dishes from Acclaimed Vancouver Restaurants by Stephanie Yuen. Published by Douglas & McIntyre. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. Photography by John Sherlock. All rights reserved.

Humba-Style Braised Pork Belly
Chef Tina Fineza • Service Excellence Restaurant Consultants

Serves 8 to 10

6 whole star anise
5 dried red chili peppers
1/8 cup black peppercorns
6 fresh bay leaves (or 8 dried bay leaves)
5 lbs pork belly, skin removed, in 3-inch cubes
20 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup diced ginger
2 medium onions, in ½-inch dice
1/8 cup fermented black beans
2 cups Shaoxing rice wine
1 cup Filipino soy sauce
1 cup cane or coconut vinegar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 cup banana flowers, rinsed (or dried lily flowers rinsed and soaked for 20 minutes)

Chef Fineza is known as one of Vancouver's most adventurous chefs, from her fusion fare at Bin 942 to her pan-Asian dishes at Flying Tiger. Her French culinary training and Filipino heritage plus her ability to blend in Southeast Asian spices and cooking techniques have helped her redefine Pacific Northwest cuisine. Now a full-time restaurant consultant, she dedicates her time to creating recipes and inspiring new restaurants.

Humba is a Filipino term for slow-braised pork belly, and it's a favourite Filipino dish for party gatherings and special occasions. What makes this classic dish so authentic are ingredients such as fermented black beans, cane or coconut vinegar, Filipino soy sauce (made with added caramel) and banana flowers. These first three items can easily be found in Filipino markets, but banana flowers can be much harder to track down. Substitute dried lily flowers, which are available year-round in Chinese markets. Serve the pork with steamed long-grain white rice.


Make a spice sachet by placing a 6-inch square piece of cheesecloth on a clean work surface. Arrange the star anise, chilies, peppercorns and bay leaves in the middle of the cheesecloth. Gather the corners of the cheesecloth, completely encasing the spices, and tie tightly with a piece of kitchen twine. (Alternatively, use a store-bought fish or herb bag instead of a cheesecloth to hold the spices.) Set aside.

Heat a large braising pan (or a Dutch oven) on high, add pork belly and sear for 3 minutes. Turn pork over and sear for 3 minutes more, then repeat on all other sides until pork is completely browned. Set aside.

To the pan, add garlic, ginger, onions and black beans and sauté for 5 minutes. Slowly pour in wine and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low. Add pork belly, spice sachet, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar and 2 to 3 cups water or enough to cover the pork belly. Bring to a boil, still on low heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer and braise for 2 hours.

Stir in banana flowers (or rehydrated lily flowers) and braise for another hour or until pork is fork-tender. Serve hot, directly from the pot.