There is a Filipino dish called humba (hoom-ba) which I absolutely love. My mum used to make it on Saturdays because my dad was teaching and would be away. My dad is Jewish so we try to avoid eating pork when he is at home. Because he teaches at graduate school on Saturdays and is away for most of the day, Saturday would be pork day. My mum makes the most amazing pork chops and just thinking about them now is making my tummy rumble!
I am pleased to say that I can now cook humba and it’s a favourite because the cut of pork is one of the cheapest. I love buying pork hocks and pork shanks because they’re so cheap and you get so much meat from them. Humba has dried banana blossoms which can be purloined from oriental supermarkets. When I cook humba I am transported to the Philippines and I am once again in my mum’s kitchen waiting for her to put the humba on the table (although I must say that my mum’s humba is still the best and my version of it pales in comparison!).
I went to the supermarket yesterday and found pork shanks. I am someone who can’t resist a food bargain so I bought the pork shanks thinking I had banana blossoms at home. I thought I was due another humba session. But as I inspected my cupboard, I discovered that it didn’t have the banana blossoms that I thought were languishing behind cans of chopped tomatoes. So after a little creative thinking, I thought if I cooked the pork shanks in tomatoes, it would work. So I brought down a couple of cans of chopped tomatoes, I chopped onions, brought out the frozen chopped garlic, hunted my dried bay leaves down, and chopped up what was salvageable from the celery that I bought nearly 2 weeks ago!
I had my fingers crossed for how my little concoction would turn out and I was quite pleased at the flavour. The base flavour was based on a Filipino dish called afritada which starts with sautéeing garlic, onions and tomatoes. Because the pork was cooked slowly, the pork was meltingly soft. Good things come to those who wait and slow cooking this was definitely worth the wait! It was great served over couscous but would be great over rice or mashed potatoes too! If you fancy trying the recipe, here it is:
- 1kg pork shanks (not deboned)
- 2 400g cans of chopped tomatoes
- 1 large onion chopped
- 3 celery stalks chopped
- 2 heaped teaspoons of chopped garlic
- 2 dried bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 500-750 ml water
- 1 pork broth cube
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- In a large stock pot, heat the oil and sautee onions. When the onions are slightly transluscent, add the chopped tomatoes, garlic, celery, broth cube, spices and the bay leaves. Allow to simmer.
- Add the pork shanks and enough water to cover the pork shanks. Cover and cook on low heat for 1 hour, turning pork shanks occasionally so that the skin doesn’t catch on the stock pot bottom.
- When the meat is soft enough, take the shanks out of the pot and debone them and return the meat pieces into the tomato sauce and cook for a further hour on low heat. The deboning is optional but it will make it easier to eat later on and you can remove the skin if you want to make it less fatty. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- When you are ready to serve, you can opt to slice the pork pieces into bite sized pieces.