Humba: Braised Pork Hocks

By Lorna Lardizabal Dietz
San Francisco Unified Lions Club

This recipe was submitted to the Lions Club International by my sister, Lorna Lardizabal Dietz

A very popular main dish from Cebu in the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines has its own
cult following. I’ve taken the influences from Filipino, Chinese, Indian, and American home
kitchens to create my own version of this savory yet sweet braised Humba that can cook within
two to four hours. If you use a pressure cooker or an instant pot, the fragrant Humba cooks in
half the time. If it’s a slow cooker you’re using, an overnight proc ess is just as delicious.

Quoted from the internet: “Pork hocks are also called pork shanks, Schweinshaxe, or Eisbein.
Pork hocks are sliced from the hind leg or pork foreleg between the knee and the ankle. This is a
tough meat as it is a part of a ‘work’ muscle, but it is very tasty though not tender. Although not
as popular as pork ribs, it is still a well-liked meat. Pork hocks, and pork in general, are
available as natural, or organic, meat.”
Before we start, let’s review the term, “bouquet garni”.
BOUQUET GARNI: A bundle of spices and herbs, the aromatics, are placed in a square of
muslin cloth and tied together with butcher twine. I use a muslin bag sachet normally used for tea
and I fill it up with my aromatics. If you don’t have any of the above but you have a stainless
steel tea ball strainer, you can use this, too.
I prefer using a bouquet garni instead of mixing the aromatics with the pork hocks because I
don’t like biting into peppercorns or cardamon seeds. The bouquet garni is braised with the rest
of the ingredients and is removed before eating.
I chose not to use salted black beans because some people develop an itchy feeling in their gums
if they are not used to it. Other cooks like to add fried plantain bananas and cooked hard-boiled
eggs with the simmering mixture. Use your imagination!
Humba is an excellent potluck dish! It refrigerates and reheats well.
EQUIPMENT: A 16-cup or 4 quart, non-acid reactive saucepan (heavy stainless steel or glass)
4 pieces of Star Anise dried flowers
2 whole cinnamon sticks, split in half (from the original length of 3-inch sticks)
6 small bay leaves (or laurel leaves)
1 to 2 tbsps. whole black peppercorns
16 cardamon seeds (whole, unpeeled)


  1. In a heavy saucepan, combine the following:
    2/3 cups soy sauce (preferably low sodium)
    1 cup white vinegar (Datu Puti vinegar or “sukang maasim”, made out of cane vinegar and water)
    2 cups water
    4 to 5-1/2 lbs. (or 1.8 to 2.5 kilos) pork hocks, thawed and washed
    Bouquet Garni, perched on the side of the saucepan, and immersed in the liquid mixture
  2. Simmer over medium heat for 1-1/2 hours. Do not put the lid over the saucepan. The goal is to
    reduce the liquid, rendering a glazed, gelatinous sauce at the end of the cooking time.
  3. For even cooking, turn over the pork hocks after the first 45 minutes. Use tongs.
  4. After 1-1/2 hours of cooking time, lower the heat to low-medium (simmer), and add 1 cup
    water and 1/4 cup brown sugar (pressed) or 1/4 cup white sugar. You can also lightly cover the
    saucepan (or leave a little opening).
  5. Add 1/4 cup of dried Azucena flowers (tuberoses) or dried lily flowers. You can also
    experiment with dried banana blossoms, if available.
  6. Cook for another hour until the meat tests done. The pork hocks should be tender and detach
    easily from the inner bone. If in doubt, simmer for another 30 minutes. Season with Montreal
    Steak Seasoning or lemon pepper to taste. You can also add 1 tbsp. of oyster sauce. The sauce
    should be a rich, glossy, caramel color.
  7. Remove the bouquet garni before serving.
  8. Serve with lots of steamed rice.
    Serves 4 to 6.

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