Braised pork with black beans

Braised pork with black beans


7000 Islands
Jana Liebenstein

Holidaying in Cebu City, a recommendation led my mother and me to the old part of town, where chef-owner Steve Aznar had converted his family’s ancestral home into Café Elysa. Historically, the area known as Parian was once an enclave for Chinese-Filipino mestizos (mixed heritage); fittingly, humba, with its sweet, soy and black bean flavours, was one of the restaurant’s star attractions.

While pork belly and whole pork shank (hock) are traditional humba cuts, Steve prefers sliced shank. Opt for the top two-thirds of the shank as this section has more meat.


Quantity Ingredient
1.2kg pork shanks, skin on, cut into 3 cm pieces through the bone
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 litre chicken stock
125ml soy sauce
125ml coconut or apple cider vinegar
115g soft brown or palm sugar
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 small red onion, quartered
2 tablespoons fermented black beans, rinsed
3 star anise
3 bay leaves
steamed choy sum and steamed rice, (optional), to serve


  1. To prepare the pork, use a lighter to singe off any hairs, then rinse the skin under cold running water.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large, deep saucepan over medium– high heat. Cook the pork, in batches, for 4 minutes turning until browned on all sides. Return all of the pork to the pan, add the stock, then bring to the boil, skimming any scum from the surface.
  3. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, garlic, onion, black beans, star anise and bay leaves, and gently stir to combine. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the pork is tender but not falling off the bone.
  4. Using tongs, carefully transfer the pork to a plate. Increase the heat to medium–high and cook the stock for 10 minutes or until reduced by half, then continue cooking for up to 5 minutes to taste — the sauce should be a balance of sweet and salty. Return the pork to the pan and cook until warmed through.
  5. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with steamed choy sum and steamed rice.

Where does it come from?

  • While humba is enjoyed throughout the country, it is considered a Visayan specialty. Some people call it a southern take on adobo; others liken it to hong ba, a Chinese dish of slow-braised pork. The general consensus is that humba is greatly influenced by Chinese cookery — the evidence can be tasted in the soy sauce (toyo) or soybean paste (tahuri) and fermented black beans (tausi). Dried banana blossoms are a common addition.
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