Humba Primiero: a taste of home cooking

Posted at 08/19/2010 11:27 AM | Updated as of 08/19/2010 6:07 PM

MANILA, Philippines - There's nothing like coming home to a home-cooked meal. You don't have to wait for busy people who've grown tired of fast-food to tell you that there's no better comfort food than what's cooking on your very own stove.

This week on Mornings@ANC's "Taste Buds" segment, Chef Myrna Segismundo, Head of ABS-CBN's Restaurant 9501, dished out a taste of home cooking with her "Humba Primiero."

Chef Myrna Segismundo of Restaurant 9501 shows the author how to make "Humba Primiero." Credit: ANC

Chef Myrna said Restaurant 9501, being the corporate dining restaurant of ABS-CBN, is like the network's home kitchen, adding they keep changing the menu since they have the usual set of guests they serve every day. Still, she admitted, they usually serve comfort food and a lot of home cooking.

Making 'humba'

The "Pata Humba" originated in the Visayas region, said Chef Myrna.

"There are several versions of it from Leyte, Cebu, Tacloban. Depending on where you're coming from, a 'humba' in Luzon can be an 'estofado' which does not have salted black beans or 'tahure'. Instead it uses bananas or toasted bread. We also add rum in our 'estofado', and sugar," she said.

Aside from the "pata" or pig's trotter, this recipe can use several cuts of meat including the pork belly ("liempo"), which accounts for more fat, and more skin for the trotter, which can also mean more flavor as it is closer to the bone.

Chef Myrna's version gets its Chinese influence from the salted black beans, and the fermented soybean ("tahure").

Chef Myrna Segismundo's Recipe for "Humba Primiero"

Ingredients:

1 piece "pata" cut into 1-inch thick pieces
2 tablespoons oil
3 cloves garlic
2 to 4 tablespoons rum
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup salted black beans
1/4 cup "tahure" (salted soybean curd), mashed
2 pieces bay leaves
1/2 cup "muscovado" sugar
1/3 cup cashews or peanuts, toasted
1/2 teaspoon cracked black peppercorn
enough water to cover the meat

Procedure:

In a pot, place the pig's trotter ("pata") in water. Boil over high heat for 10 minutes, then simmer over medium heat until tender. Remove meat from the pot and set stock aside.

In a preheated pan with oil, saute garlic over medium heat, then add the boiled pig's trotter and brown all sides. Add the rum (evaporate the alcohol before adding the other ingredients) and toss mixture.

Add the reserved stock, vinegar, soy sauce, salted black beans, soybean curd, bay leaves, "muscovado" sugar and nuts. Stir to blend all ingredients, then simmer over medium heat until a syrupy glaze is achieved. Season with pepper. Serve warm.

Rum gives 'humba' a fuller flavor

Chef Myrna used rum in her "Humba Primiero" recipe to commemorate the 100th year of a rum company, and decided to use it because of rum's affinity to sugar.

While there's barely a hint of the rum in the dish, Chef Myrna said it makes for a fuller flavor.

"It would help add a more rounded flavor to the dish. Whereas sugar would impart a very sweet taste to the dish, the rum would give the sauce more character and body."

Chef Myrna, however, cautioned against using too much rum so as not to overpower the sauce or make it bitter.

She admitted the "muscovado" sugar also calls the difference in this dish.

Chef Myrna recommended a vegetable siding like steamed eggplant on the side to have with the "humba" aside from steamed rice.

The "humba" is just the kind of home-cooked meal Chef Myrna tries to promote in keeping with her efforts with five other chefs to raise the bar for Philippine traditional cuisine through "Kulinarya".

"It's funny that we are strangers to our own cuisine. We have not identified what our cuisine is all about. The "Kulinarya" is a first formal attempt to promote our cuisine. We have to have an identity to have pride of country. As Filipino chefs, this is our contribution to nation building and creating an identity for ourselves through our food."

The "Humba Primiero," a sweet Filipino meat dish, promises to satisfy the taste buds.

The Mornings@ANC gang sampled the Humba Primiero on the show and admitted it's made of good stuff.

Chef Myrna's "Humba Primiero" recipe is in the August issue of ABS-CBN Publishing's Food magazine.